NEWS

End of Session Legislative Highlights

After an anything but normal spring legislative session comprised of remote legislating and zoom committee hearings, the Illinois General Assembly (GA) wrapped up its business for the first half of the 102nd GA. Before the Memorial Day holiday, a long list of issues remained unresolved, including ethics reform, property tax changes, and passage of the state budget. Both the House and Senate worked into the wee hours of June 1, and the Senate returned for session later that day.


Highlights of the action:


Fiscal Year 2022 Budget

Better-than-expected state revenue projections helped shrink the FY22 budget deficit from $3 billion in February to less than $1 billion at the end of May. Facing a much smaller deficit, and with the certainty of federal dollars coming from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the governor and lawmakers were able to craft a $42 billion budget (SB 2800) with the scheduled $350 million increase to the Evidence Based Model for K-12 education. The budget also closes three corporate loopholes that will generate about $650 million in state revenue each year going forward.


The IFT legislative team spoke at several committee hearings and advocated for our collective funding priorities . See below for additional budget details.


*$300M for tier funding, $50M for property tax relief, and $12M for integration of District Intervention funds (North Chicago and East St. Louis)


Budget Implementation Bill (SB 2017)

The budget implementation bill included several provisions of interest to IFT members including:


Pensions

  • TRS Tier 1 – for those who retire after June 1, 2021, uses either their 4 highest consecutive years of the last ten years of service (current FAS) or the highest four years of the last ten, whichever is higher.

  • TRS Tier 2 – for those who retire after June 1, 2021, uses either their highest 96 consecutive months of service of the last 120 months of service (current FAS) or the highest 96 months of service of the last 120 months of service, whichever is higher.

  • TRS – creates a 6% exemption for returning to work in an overload or stipend capacity following any emergency declaration during which the overload and stipend work could not be offered. This is a permanent exemption.

  • TRS – creates a 6% exemption for an increase in the number of instructional days beyond the 2019-2020 school year. This is a permanent exemption.

  • SURS – creates a 6% exemption for returning to work in an overload capacity following any emergency declaration during which the overload work could not be offered. This is a permanent exemption.

Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship

This bill also expanded the Invest in Kids tax credit scholarship program to allow a “technical academy” that provides a “jointly administered CTE program” to participate. These programs provided by non-public schools must be approved by ISBE and are limited to receiving no more that 15% of the total amount of the Invest in Kids program. The legislation also extended the sunset of the scholarship program by a year to 2025. The IFT opposed this expansion that was put forward by other labor unions including those in the building trades.


Mental Health in the School Setting

This expands the scope of the Children’s Mental Health Partnership to include making recommendations for ensuring all Illinois youth receive mental health education and have access to mental health care in the school setting. It requires consultation with educators and school support personnel.


The budget implementation bill passed both chambers.


Redistricting and Primary Election Moved to June 28, 2022

After each census, legislative district boundaries are redrawn. The timeline for this process is set forth in the Illinois Constitution. The pandemic-related delay in the delivery of census data needed to draw the maps complicated the redistricting process. To meet the Constitutional timeline, House and Senate democrats used American Community Survey (ACS) data to draw maps and approved their redistricting plan (HB 2777) the final weekend of session.


The General Assembly also approved a redistricting plan for Illinois judicial districts (SB 642) - the first change in judicial districts since 1963. They also approved a plan for reorganizing judicial circuits (SB 2406) that will impact probation officers in the Metro East.


To deal with the delay in redrawing congressional districts, the General Assembly approved moving the 2022 primary election to June 28, 2022 (SB 825). Election day for the general election (November 8, 2022) will again be a legal school holiday.


IFT Initiatives

House Bill 18 extends the time between evaluations for teachers previously rated “proficient” or “excellent” from two to three years and applies to all school districts in the state. It also extends the work of Performance Evaluation Advisory Committee (PEAC) to June 30, 2024 (PEAC was scheduled to end June 30 of this year). The bill passed both chambers.


House Bill 375 will provide university and community college adjuncts with a notice of the status of the class(es) they were hired to teach. The employer will give the notice once at least 30 days before the start of the semester or term and then again 14 days before the start of the semester or term. The bill passed both the House and Senate.


House Bill 2908 creates a 21-member elected school board for the City of Chicago. Passed the Senate, requires concurrence in the House.


Labor Initiatives

Workers’ Rights Constitutional Amendment

Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 11 would amend the Bill of Rights of the Illinois Constitution to explicitly state that employees have a fundamental right to organize and collectively bargain through a representative of their choosing to negotiate wages, hours, and working conditions. It would also prohibit any state law from being passed that interferes with that right such as so-called “right to work” laws. Passed by both the House and Senate, the proposed Constitutional amendment will be on the November 2022 ballot and needs to be approved by 60% of the voters.


Organizing Improvements – Electronic Signatures and Elections

House Bill 2521 allows electronic signatures to be used in organizing drives and extends the time those signatures are valid to 12 months, allows secret ballot elections to select a labor organization as the representative of the employees in a bargaining unit to be conducted electronically, and makes any retaliatory action from an employer against employees who are on engaged in a lawful strike an unfair labor practice. The bill passed both chambers.


Union Rights for Chicago Principals

House Bill 3496 changes the legal definition of a supervisor in Chicago to allow principals to be considered educational employees with collective bargaining rights. This bill was an initiative of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association and was supported by the IFT and CTU. HB 3496 passed the House but was not called for a vote in the Senate.


Union Rights for More State Employees

Senate Bill 525 makes determinations of confidential employee, managerial employee, and supervisor status dependent upon actual job duties and not the job description. This will expand the number of state employees that can join a union and have collective bargaining rights, and it will reverse the Rauner-era practice of using an outdated job description to misclassify workers. The bill passed the House and Senate.


COVID-Related Measures

Metrics for Reopening Schools

House Bill 2789 requires the Department of Public Health (IDPH) to establish metrics for school districts to determine if the district may safely conduct in-person or remote instruction. The bill applies to public and private schools and establishes a complaint process. An individual can make a complaint that a school is not in compliance with the IDPH metrics to the regional superintendent of schools, who must investigate. The ROE findings can be appealed to ISBE. The bill did not pass.


Urges Extended School Year

Senate Resolution 232 urges Illinois school districts to add additional time to the school day and/or school year, beginning in the 2021-22 school year and for the next three years, to address disrupted learning because of the pandemic. This resolution was adopted by the Senate.


Pensions

Retirement Savings for Tier 2 Participants

Senate Bill 2103 provides for automatic enrollment into a supplemental defined contribution plan for new participants in SURS and TRS (those hired after July 1, 2023). New members will automatically have three percent of their pay distributed to the plan and they can change that amount or opt out completely at any time. The legislation will enable new participants in Tier II to save additional assets for retirement and does not impact the employee’s defined benefit under SURS or TRS. This passed both chambers.


Exempting Summer School from Pension Penalties

Senate Bill 1646 excludes salary increases from teaching summer school between May 1, 2021 and September 15, 2022, from the calculation used to determine if an individual’s salary increased more than 6% and, as a result, requires a corresponding employer pension contribution. This passed both chambers.


Private School Service Credit

House Bill 1966 allows for the purchase of up to two years of private school credit under TRS. The member must pay the employee and employer cost plus interest for the service credit. This passed both chambers.


Contract School Educators in CTPF

Senate Bill 2093 allows educators working in CPS contract schools to access a defined benefit pension via CTPF. The bill passed both chambers.


Return to Work

House Bill 2569 extends the provision allowing retired teachers to return to teaching without penalty until June 30, 2024. It also requires schools to post vacancies on the district’s website and in an online database. This passed both chambers.


Senate Bill 1989 also extends the provision and allows retired teachers to return to teaching without penalty, but only until June 30, 2023. This bill passed both chambers.


Employee Benefits

Family Leave For Part-time Educational Employees

House Bill 12 would grant Family and Medical Leave to an employee of a school district, public university, or community college district who has been employed for at least 12 months and who has worked at least 1,000 hours in the previous 12-month period. This passed both chambers.


Expanded Use of Sick Leave

House Bill 816 broadens the ability to use sick leave. The legislation would allow teachers and other employees to use up to 30 days of paid sick leave for adoption or placement for adoption or fostering children. This passed both chambers.


Curriculum/School Day

‘Sexting’ Education

House Bill 24 requires sex education course material for grades 6-12 to include an age-appropriate discussion on sexting. The discussion shall include consequences of sexting, bullying and harassment, internet safety, and the identification of appropriate school personnel who may be contacted for help if a student is concerned about something occurring in this area. Appropriate personnel may include a principal, teacher, school social worker, counselor, or trusted community leader. This passed both chambers.


Social Studies and American History – Inclusion of the Asian American Experience

House Bill 376 requires public schools to include in their curriculum a unit of instruction studying the events of Asian American history. The bill passed both chambers.


Driver Education – How to Interact with Police During a Traffic Stop

House Bill 3097 requires school driver education course instruction to include procedures for interacting with law enforcement during