The Illinois General Assembly was busy working again this week. Senators returned in person to the Capitol for floor action and committee work, while representatives held remote committee hearings without convening in person.
Highlights of the action include:
Education pillar of Illinois Legislative Black Caucus agenda signed into law
At a signing ceremony March 8, Governor JB Pritzker signed House Bill 2170 into law. More background can be found here. The bill will help bridge the educational gaps that have existed for Black and Brown children from early childhood to higher education. Resources to close the digital divide, provide Social Emotional Learning (SEL) supports, and strengthen post-secondary transitions will promote equity and help bring real justice to education.
House Revenue Committee discusses state fiscal outlook
On March 11 the House Revenue Committee heard from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) and the legislative Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) about revised revenue estimates for both the current and upcoming fiscal year. Lawmakers will use the estimates to craft the Fiscal Year 2022 state budget. While the state suffered a severe downturn during the first few months of the pandemic, GOMB and COGFA reported that the economy rebounded more quickly than expected and that the revenue losses for this fiscal year were not as bad as initially expected.
While the revenue estimates are better than anticipated, Illinois is still facing a revenue shortfall due to lack of approval of the Fair Tax. One idea being considered to address the problem is “decoupling” from federal tax law changes included as part of the federal economic stimulus created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Specifically, that change involves increasing the tax relief businesses could claim under the existing net operating loss and excess business loss tax breaks. Because the Illinois income tax code is predicated on federal law, whenever Congress increases existing tax relief already received by businesses at the federal level, that tax relief automatically applies under Illinois law, resulting in a simultaneous reduction in tax revenue for the state. If legislative action isn’t taken, Illinois could lose from $500 million to $1 billion in tax revenue this year.
BILLS APPROVED BY COMMITTEES THIS WEEK
Military Dependent Tuition
HB 557 (Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore)
This bill provides that if, at the time of enrollment, a dependent of U.S. military personnel is housed in temporary housing located outside of a school district, but will be living within the district within six months (instead of within 60 days), the dependent must be allowed to enroll and must not be charged tuition. Provides that U.S. military personnel shall provide proof within six months (instead of within 60 days) after the time of enrollment that the dependent will be living within the district. Passed the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Admin, Licensing & Charter Schools Committee by a vote of 8-0-0.
Mental Health Day for Students
HB 576 (Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago)
With respect to the exceptions to the compulsory attendance requirement, this bill provides that absence for cause by illness shall include the mental or behavioral health of a student. Passed the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Admin, Licensing & Charter Schools Committee by a vote of 8-0-0.
Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention
HB 577 (Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago)
This bill amends a section of school code that addresses youth suicide prevention and updates the section touching on emotional-mental health safety plan to identify youth who may be at increased risk. Passed the House Education Curriculum Committee by a vote of 19-3-0.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and for the Crisis Text Line
HB 597 (Rep. Michael Marron, R – Danville)
This bill requires school districts to provide contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and for the Crisis Text Line on the back of each student identification card issued by the school district. It also provides that if the school district does not issue student identification cards to its students or to all of its students, the district must publish this information on its website. Passed the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Admin, Licensing & Charter Schools Committee by a vote of 8-0-0.
A look ahead
During the week of March 15, both chambers will continue remote committee work. The Senate will convene for floor action in Springfield on March 16 and the House will convene on March 18.