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Key Takeaways from This Week's Budget Address and Legislation to Watch

The Illinois General Assembly returned to Springfield this week to take committee action on bills, while Governor JB Pritzker outlined his Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) budget proposal on Wednesday, February 21.


The proposed spending plan is $52.7B, which is a 2% increase in state spending from FY24. With a projected FY25 deficit of nearly $900 million, the spending plan includes $1 billion in increased revenue from various sources.


The proposed budget includes continued, increased investments in early childhood, the K-12 Evidence Based Funding (EBF) model, and higher education. It also includes the full payment to the state’s pension systems and proposes changes to the pension payment ramp that would save an estimated $5 billion by 2045.


The governor’s proposal is the starting point for budget negotiations, with a final budget due to be passed in late May. IFT will advocate for our union’s budget priorities throughout the spring in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Below is a more detailed explanation of what the governor’s proposal includes.


  • Makes the full payment to the state’s pension systems, including TRS, SURS, and SERS.

    • The total pension payment is $10.1 billion, or 18.9% of the state budget.

    • Governor Pritzker dedicated an additional $700 million in pension funding during FY22 and FY23 – the first times the state paid beyond the certified, required payment since the funding ramp was enacted in 1994.

  • Increases the target funding level from 90% (by 2045) to 100% (by 2048).

  • Proposes to increase pension payments by devoting one-half of the current debt payments from the bill backlog bonds and pension obligation bonds when those bonds expire in FY30 and FY33, respectively.

  • Asks the pension systems with members who are not in Social Security to propose changes that will bring Tier 2 into compliance with the Social Security Safe Harbor provision.



Early Childhood

  • Smart Start Illinois — Continues investment in this initiative for a second year to eliminate preschool deserts, stabilize the childcare workforce, expand the Early Intervention Program and Home Visiting programs, plus funding to begin the overhaul of the childcare payment management system.

    • Funding for the Smart Start Illinois program led to the creation of nearly 6,000 publicly funded preschool seats in FY24.

  • Creation of the Department of Early Childhood - $13 million.



  • Evidence Based Funding – $350 million increase.

  • Teacher Vacancy Grant Pilot Program - $45 million for year two of the 3-year pilot. 

  • State Literacy Plan implementation - $3 million.

  • Career Technical Education programs - $10 million additional state investment beyond the required federal match.

  • Dolly Parton Imagination Library - $3.5 million in continued funding. The program was launched in Illinois in FY24 and sends free books to children from birth to age 5.

  • Special Education transportation - $30 million to account for increased claims by districts.

  • National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) – level funded at FY24 level of $4.5 million

  • Freedom Schools - $17 million (same as FY24)


Higher Education

  • Public colleges’ and universities’ operating funds - $30.6 million in additional funding ($24.6 million for universities and $6 million for community colleges). This is a 2.2% increase over FY24.

    • Note that the framework for higher education funding may change once the Higher Education Equitable Funding Commission issues its report in March.

  • Monetary Award Program (MAP) - $10 million increase.

    • This is a smaller increase than prior years, but still represents a 77% increase in MAP funding since Governor Pritzker took office.

  • Grow Your Own (GYO) Teachers – funded at the FY24 level of $6 million.

  • Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) – Level funded from FY 24 at $8 million.

  • MTI is an effort to increase the number of teachers from underrepresented communities. It is estimated that over 950 students will be served in FY25.

  • Golden Apple Scholars and Golden Apple Accelerators – level funded at $10.75 million and $5 million, respectively.

  • Mental Health Early Action on Campus Act grants to colleges and universities - $1 million, which is a reduction from the $3.3 million budgeted in FY24.

  • AIM High – level funded at $50 million.

  • Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) – level funded from FY24.


Health Insurance and Retiree Health Insurance
  • Teacher’s Retirement Insurance Program fully funded.

  • College Insurance Program (CIP) fully funded.

  • State employee group health insurance fully funded.


In addition to the governor’s budget address, several committees convened and took important action on bills. The highlights include:


HB 3286 (Ness, D-Carpentersville) is an Illinois Manufacturers Association initiative that provides stipends for teachers who participate in externships with a manufacturing company in this state. The externships experience is designed to give teachers the opportunity to spend time outside of the classroom and in manufacturing facilities. The proposal is subject to appropriation and will be amended on the floor for a technical change requested by the State Board of Education. The House Elementary & Secondary Education Licensing Committee unanimously approved HB 3286. The bill will now move to the House floor.


SB 3110 (Edly-Allen, D-Grayslake) provides that if a vacancy on a regional board of school trustees occurs in a single county educational service region, then the vacancy may be filled by a person who is a resident of a congressional township not represented on the board. The Senate Education Committee unanimously approved SB 3110. The bill will now be heard by the full Senate.


SB 3164 (Edly-Allen, D-Grayslake) would modify restrictions on pre-Kindergarten through grade 2 assessments to allow their use in determining students’ eligibility for advanced academic programs. The bill passed out of the Senate Education committee and goes to the full Senate for consideration.

SB 3166 (Koehler, D-Peoria Heights) makes a change to what documents are retained in a student’s permanent record. The bill is an initiative of the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, which hopes to facilitate continuity of information between K12 schools and community placements for certain individuals. The Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Principals Association are working with the sponsor on an amendment to clarify the scope of the retained information. SB 3166 passed the Senate Education Committee. Once an amendment is filed and adopted, it will go before the full Senate.

SB 3237 (Belt, D-East St Louis) makes changes to the school construction program to accommodate districts that applied for school construction funding in 2004, 2005 and 2006 and already built a new school building. The bill is contingent on funding from the Illinois General Assembly and would require those districts to submit a new application. The Senate Education Committee approved the measure. It now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Tier II hearing

The House Personnel and Pensions Committee held a subject matter hearing on the effects of Tier II pensions on recruitment and retention on Thursday, February 22. IFT member Jason Marmolstein, an English teacher at Niles North High School, shared his experience as a Tier II member and detailed the financial challenges he and fellow Tier II members face. The committee plans additional hearings later this spring to further highlight the inequities of Illinois’ Tier II pension plan. Discussions are focused on changes to Tier II pensions, including retirement age, financial security in retirement, and the fact that teachers in Illinois do not participate in Social Security.   


A look ahead

Legislators are back in their districts next week and will return to Springfield on March 5. Legislative action will likely pick up speed as the deadlines to move bills out of House and Senate Committees approach and both chambers begin to deliberate on components of the FY25 budget.


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