Unfair "Invest in Kids" voucher program to sunset on December 31!
The fall veto session adjourned last week without legislative action to extend the Invest in Kids voucher program that diverted state resources to support for students attending private and religious schools.
The Invest in Kids program will sunset as scheduled on December 31, meaning donors to six state-approved private school scholarship funds will no longer be able to claim a 75% tax credit for their donations. The program has been capped at $75 million annually since its implementation in 2018.
Lawmakers passed the Invest in Kids Act in 2017 as part of a bipartisan package that also included an overhaul of the way Illinois funds public preK-12 education. The scholarship program was considered necessary in order to get then-Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, to sign the public-school funding overhaul.
IFT applauded the Illinois General Assembly for “choosing to put our public schools first and end the state program that subsidized private, mostly religious schools, many of which have discriminatory policies.”
The second week of the fall veto session meant action on several other bills, including:
HB 351 (Tarver/Harmon) created the Task Force to Review Eligibility to Hold Public Office to review what criminal conduct precludes a person from holding public office in the State and to make recommendations as to what criminal conduct should preclude an individual from holding public office. It removes the requirement that a notary public is required for electoral documents including nominating petitions and petitions of candidacy. HB 351 passed the House and Senate and will now be sent to the governor.
HB 1358 (Burke/Glowiak-Hilton) was an omnibus bill that included a provision to change the effective date of PA 103-542 from January 1, 2024 to July 1, 2024. PA 103-542 created flexibility around employee mandated training as well as reducing the frequency and number of trainings. HB 1358 passed the House and Senate and will now be sent to the governor.
HB 2104 (Delgado/Villivalam) requires water safety instruction for students enrolled in prekindergarten through grade six that incorporates evidence-based water safety instructional materials and resources.
HB 2104 passed the House and Senate and will now be sent to the governor.
HB 3641 (Burke/Cunningham) was an omnibus bill that included three changes impacting education:
Restoration of provisional CTE educator language in statute. The provisional CTE license was mistakenly deleted in PA 102-894, a bill passed and signed into law in 2022.
Clean-up of PA 103-46 that provided that, when hiring K-6 physical education, music, and visual arts educators, school districts must prioritize the hiring of educators who hold a teaching license and/or endorsement in those content areas. If a school district is unable to hire a qualified candidate, the district may hire a candidate who holds a valid professional educator license on a temporary basis.
Shortens the time that instructional materials relating to the Native American genocide in North America shall be prepared and made available on the State Board of Education's website to no later than July 1, 2024 (instead of January 1, 2025).
HB 3641 passed the House and Senate and will now be sent to the governor.
SB 696 (Aquino/Huynh) extends the estimated dates of completion of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for the Village of Bourbonnais, City of Chicago, and other local governments. SB 696 passed the House and Senate and will now be sent to the governor.
SB 1699 (Cunningham/Walsh) made changes to the Adjustable Block program to require at least 15% from distributed renewable generation devices or photovoltaic community renewable generation projects installed on public school land (rather than at public schools). Provides that qualifying projects must be located on property owned, leased, or subleased by the school or school district and the school or school district must benefit from the project. SB 1699 passed the House and Senate and will now be sent to the governor. Illinois Shines (statutorily known as the Adjustable Block Grant Program) makes “going solar” more affordable for people across Illinois. With valuable incentives, step-by-step guidance, important consumer protections, and an emphasis on equity, Illinois Shines ensures everyone in Illinois can play a role in our clean energy future.
Update on an Elected School Board in Chicago
Lawmakers in the House and Senate could not agree before adjourning their fall veto session on how elections would happen in 2024 and 2026 to transition to a fully elected school board.
According to a 2021 law and its subsequent trailer bill, 10 school board members are to be elected on Nov. 5, 2024, from 10 geographic districts. The mayor would appoint a school board president and 10 members from those same districts. In November 2026, the appointed seats would be elected, and a school board president would be chosen by all Chicago voters.
The House version of the school board maps and election process language was included in SB 689 (Harmon/Williams) and the Senate version was included in HB 2233 (Hoffman/Harmon). Neither bill saw action by both chambers and it’s likely this issue will resurface when the legislature convenes in January.
A look ahead
Legislators will return to Springfield for the spring session on January 16, 2024.