The House and Senate were scheduled to adjourn the Spring legislative session, May 19th. However, with remaining legislative and budget work to be done, they have extended their schedule into next week.
IFT funding priorities for the Spring session include requests that funding be sustained or increased for:
K12 schools via an increase of at least $350 million to the EBF Tiers
State universities and community colleges reflective of at least the levels proposed in the Governor’s proposed budget
Grow Your Own
National Board Certified Teachers program
Supporting school meals
Open Educational Resources, and
The Mental Health Early Action on Campus Appropriations Act
The Invest in Kids voucher program is still being discussed as part of the overall budget negotiations and the IFT is lobbying against any extension or expansion of the program.
Please continue making calls and sending emails to your local lawmakers with the message: "The Invest in Kids voucher program needs to end. I urge you to oppose any extension of the Invest in Kids program. The scholarships don't have to end, just the tax credits. Wealthy donors can continue funding scholarships without the tax credit. Public funds should go to public schools that serve everyone."
IFT Initiatives Advance
IFT was successful in passing our Spring 2023 legislative agenda. The following bills have passed the House and Senate and will now be sent to the Governor.
• Testing: Reduce high-stakes standardized testing in schools.
• Evaluation: Reform burdensome and racially biased educator evaluation practices.
• School Supports/Funding
SB 1994 (Loughran-Cappel/Yednock) requires districts to calculate their three-year average operating expenses each year and report their cash on hand. If the district’s cash reserves ever exceed 2.5 times their annual average, the district has to submit a plan to ISBE for how they intend to spend those reserves.
SB 2391 strengthens and expands the Sustainable Community Schools (SCS) model.
• Ensuring Children’s Access to Kindergarten
HB 2396 (Canty/Lightford) creates a Full Day Kindergarten Task Force comprised of a diverse set of stakeholders. The task force will conduct a statewide audit of full day kindergarten including capacity and costs to inform the planning and implementation of full day kindergarten in every district by the 2027-2028 school year.
• Teacher Shortage
SB 1646 (Martwick/Kifowit) allows retired PSRP’s to return to work as substitute teachers in the Chicago Public Schools.
New map for elected Chicago school board
Lawmakers released a second draft map of the 20 representative districts for the Chicago elected school board. The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is part of a broad community coalition that offered its own version of the map. The CTU testified in the House Executive Committee and encouraged lawmakers to consider their proposal that would make sure the school board reflects the racial and socio-economic diversity of the district. More information on the map process can be found here.
House Announces Pension Hearings
HB 4098 (Kifowit) would make significant changes to the state pension systems. Representative Kifowit announced her intention to hold hearings regarding the inadequacies of Tier 2 and the role of pension benefits in the recruitment and retention of educators and public employees. The bill includes a reduction in retirement age, additional options for participants at the time of retirement, and addressing issues related to Social Security compliance. In addition, the proposal strengthens funding for these systems by increasing the funded status goal from 90% to 100%. IFT will be closely monitoring these hearings and providing testimony on this topic that is so important to IFT members.
SR 7 (Fine) urges Congress to repeal the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision. The resolution does not carry the weight of law but is a statement of the will of the General Assembly. The Senate unanimously adopted the resolution.
A Look Ahead
Both chambers will return next week to finish work for the spring session. The Senate is scheduled to return Wednesday and Thursday. The House is scheduled to return Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
Watch IFT's Under the Dome for updates.