NEWS

Legislative update - week of 4/15/16

While FY16 and FY17 budget conversations continue, state universities, community colleges, and human services remain unfunded because of Governor Rauner’s irresponsible political priorities.


The four legislative caucuses met this week to discuss the budget impasse, but details of the meeting were not released and it seems clear that no significant progress was made towards an agreement. While FY16 and FY17 budget conversations continue, state universities, community colleges, and human services remain unfunded because of Governor Rauner’s irresponsible political priorities. Here is an overview of this week's legislative action:

..................................................................................................................................... Budget and Revenue House passes, Senate concurs on $3.8 billion proposal

With the state now 10 months into the fiscal year with no budget, many state responsibilities are being funded only because they have been ordered by the court or a consent decree. This week, SB 2046 (Cullerton, D-Chicago) passed the House and received a concurrence vote in the Senate. The $3.8 billion proposal would appropriate money for items that are not currently funded because they are not covered under a court order or consent decree. Unsurprisingly, the Governor has threatened to veto this bill.

..................................................................................................................................... House to vote on Millionaire’s Tax

HJRCA 26, a constitutional amendment known as the Millionaire's Tax, is expected to be voted on in the House next week. The legislation would provide more than $1 billion in dedicated education funding for Illinois schools simply by asking the wealthiest Illinoisans (who make $1 million or more) to pay their fair share. An overwhelming majority of Illinois voters supported this concept in the 2014 general election, and the measure failed by just three votes in Springfield last session. HJRCA 26 must by approved by both chambers to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November and give voters the chance to make this popular measure law.

..................................................................................................................................... Fair Tax proposal introduced

Details of a Fair Tax proposal were released on Friday in an amendment to HB 689. The measure would tax individuals and businesses at a graduated rate based upon their ability to pay. The Fair Tax would generate over $1.9 billion in new revenue for public education and state services, while cutting taxes for more than 99 percent of Illinois taxpayers. Tax rates would significantly increase only on incomes over $500,000. For the measure to take effect, voters must approve a constitutional amendment. HJRCA 59 would put the necessary constitutional amendment on the ballot if both chambers approve the it with a 3/5 majority by May 10. The IFT supports both these initiatives.

..................................................................................................................................... Education Senate committee approves school funding reform measure

A measure that would change the school funding formula in Illinois gained approval from the Senate Executive committee this week. The plan now moves to the Senate for consideration. Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) sponsored the school formula re-write bill (SB 16) two years ago and has reintroduced a similar measure in SB 231. SB 231 incorporates revisions and feedback from stakeholder groups on the original bill. Like the first bill, SB 231 would collapse special education funding into the General State Aid (GSA) formula so those dollars would also be distributed based on need. New to this bill is a hold harmless provision which guarantees that no school district would lose funding because of formula changes in the first year. The new formula would be phased in over four years, allowing school districts that would eventually receive less state funding the chance to plan accordingly. The proposal also includes provisions to eliminate block grant funding for Chicago Public Schools, while giving the district $200 million per year to support the teachers’ pension fund. The Illinois State Board of Education has been asked to determine how much money each school district will receive under the plan. Those numbers haven’t been released. The IFT is waiting to see how districts will be impacted before taking a position on the bill.

..................................................................................................................................... Dangerous charter bill advances

Rep. Andre Thapedi’s (D- Chicago) HB 5918 was not voted on this week, but we expect the measure to be debated in the full House next week. This bill allows charter schools to be renewed for a 10-year period. Currently they are renewed for only five years. The IFT, CTU, and IEA testified against the bill in committee because it would hinder charter transparency and accountability. Our union will continue to voice our opposition to lawmakers about this dangerous legislation.

..................................................................................................................................... House passes measure to seek clarification on testing gains

HB 5901, sponsored by Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago),  passed the House this week with a vote of 71-41. This IFT-supported bill would provide transparency in statewide testing by requiring every school to report reliable information for every assessment.

..................................................................................................................................... Bill filed to extend the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC)

To ensure that teachers continue to have a state-level voice on evaluation issues, the IFT worked with Sen. Kim Lightford (D-Westchester) to file SB 240, which will extend the expiration date of the statewide Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) from June 2017 to June 2021.

..................................................................................................................................... PSRP recall rights bill passes House

HB 6299, sponsored by Rep. Jaime Andrade (D-Chicago), was approved by the House this week. This IFT initiative would provide that if a paraprofessional or school-related personnel (PSRP) is called back to work within one year of the time they were RIF’ed, they will maintain any rights and benefits accrued. The measure now moves to the Illinois Senate for consideration.

..................................................................................................................................... Charter cap lift bill advances despite opposition HB 6142, a bill to eliminate the cap on the number of charter schools in Illinois, was narrowly approved by the House Executive Committee this week. IFT and the CTU testified in opposition to the bill, reminding legislators that:

  • Eliminating the cap on charter schools provides additional incentives to expand them.

  • A cap on charter schools in Chicago is meaningless because of a loophole in the state’s charter law that allows networks to replicate multi-campus charters at will. (Despite a "cap" of 70, there are actually more than 130 charter campuses in the city.)

  • Lifting the cap raises questions about local control for school districts. As an example, Chicago Public Schools recently tried to close down three under performing charter schools, but the State Charter Commission overturned their action. The school district is suing the commission to close them again.

Instead of lifting the cap, our state needs a tighter cap to protect existing charter schools, as well as adequate resources to ensure that all schools and students get what they need.

..................................................................................................................................... Election of City College Board of Trustees

HB 4312 would establish a 21-member, citywide elected Board of Trustees for the City Colleges of Chicago. The measure would promote greater accountability within the City Colleges system by allowing voters to have a voice in policies pursued by the board. The bill will be heard in the House Higher Education Committee on April 20.

..................................................................................................................................... State and University Employees Committee addresses state and university employee health insurance

The Senate Appropriations I committee held a hearing on the status of the State Employees Group Health Insurance Program. The Commission on Government Forecasting & Accountability (COGFA) recently issued a new report on the program’s liabilities, outlining a $2.9 billion bill backlog that is growing by $200 million a month. The Department of Central Management Services (CMS) testified about their intent to achieve cost savings through massive cuts to employee health insurance benefits. Many unions, including the Illinois Federation of Public Employees, IFT Local 4408, and are still in contract negotiations with the Governor on this issue and others. His demands at the bargaining table could cost state and university employees an estimated $10,000 over three years. The IFT will continue to advocate for our members to protect these important benefits.

................................................................................................................. Dental Hygienists Dental hygienists required hours change passes House

HB 5948, sponsored by Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Chicago), clarifies the role and responsibilities of Public Health Dental Hygienists (PHDHs) and reduces the number of continuing education hours required for a hygienist to become a PHDH. The bill passed the House with unanimous bipartisan support and now moves to the Senate.

..................................................................................................................................... A LOOK AHEAD


The House and Senate will reconvene on Monday, April 18. Both chambers are scheduled to be in all week as the deadline to move bills to the next chamber approaches. Watch Under the Dome for updates.

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