NEWS

Legislative update - week of 5/31/15

The legislature finished its first regular session under Governor Rauner on Sunday, May 31 with many key items - including the budget - unresolved. The House is expected to return to Springfield on June 4, and the Senate plans to return on June 9 to continue their work.

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IFT Initiatives Update

During the spring 2015 legislative session, IFT proposed the following measures:


KINDERGARTEN FOR ALL STUDENTS HB 3337, sponsored by Rep. Welch (D-Westchester), provides that all Illinois schools offer full-day kindergarten by the 2017-18 school year. Parents would not be required to enroll their children in full-day kindergarten, nor does it limit the district’s ability continue to offer half-day kindergarten. STUDENT & EDUCATOR DATA PRIVACY The IFT has been negotiating for nearly two years with education stakeholders and vendors to craft, HB 810, sponsored by Rep. Drury (D-Highwood). The measure would protect student and educator digital privacy. K-2 UNNECESSARY TESTING SB 1247, IFT-proposed legislation sponsored by Sen. Biss (D-Skokie), would prohibit the administration of any tests on K-2 students that is not diagnostic in nature or to identify academic needs. TIER 2 PENSION RESOLUTIONS SR 317, sponsored by Sen. Biss (D-Skokie), and HR 358, sponsored by Rep. Nekritz (D-Buffalo Grove), were introduced at the IFT’s request. These bills question whether the Tier 2 pension plans complies with Social Security requirements. ASSESMENT REVIEW TASK FORCE EXTENSION IFT drafted an amendment to extend the reporting deadline of the Assessment Review Task Force from May 31, 2015 to January 1, 2016. ISBE agreed to the new deadline in writing, so the legislation was tabled.   DISTRICT INTERVENTION TRAILER BILL SB 665, sponsored by Sen. Steans (D-Chicago), is headed to the Governor after it passed both chambers. The bill requires a school district to notify the exclusive bargaining agent of employees in that district if ISBE has named that district a ‘Priority District,’ requiring the district to conduct an internal review and needs assessment. Notice to the exclusive bargaining agent must be given within five days. ........................................................................................................................................................ Other key legislation

IFT members beat back bill to restrict collective bargaining


Following calls from IFT members urging a “no” vote on SB 1046, SA 1, sponsored by Sen. Radogno (R-Lemont), the Senate Executive Committee soundly rejected legislation that would have severely restricted collective bargaining rights. The vote on the bill was 6-11 and ensures the measure will not be addressed again this session. IFT Vice President Jane Russell testified in opposition to the bill.

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RTW proposal is off the table – for now


In the final days of the regular session, Governor Rauner dropped his push for several components of his “turnaround” agenda, including “right-to-work.” Counties and municipalities around the state have overwhelmingly rejected the Governor’s agenda and its harmful proposals.

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FY16 budget on hold, revenue still a question


The FY16 budget package - a compilation of 18 appropriations bills totaling roughly $33 billion - was crafted and passed this week by House and Senate Democrats, but changes are expected. The bills were put on a hold called “motion to reconsider,” allowing the legislature to stop the bills from moving to the governor until the hold is lifted.


The critical subject of revenue has not been addressed. Most of the nearly $4 billion budget deficit stems from the roll back of state income tax rates that took effect on Jan. 1. Various revenue ideas, including an income tax increase, closing corporate loopholes, and others have gotten little traction this session. The IFT will continue to advocate for much-needed revenue.

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Education Appropriations


Appropriations for K-12 education are included in HB 4151 and HB 3763, sponsored by Rep. Madigan (D-Chicago). The bills provide for a funding increase over FY 15 levels of about $240 million for elementary and secondary education. About $206 million would be allocated for General State Aid (GSA), which would result in a 92% proration level. An additional $85 million would be available for the neediest school districts to limit funding lost due to the proration.

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Public employee arbitration passes


SB 1229, sponsored by Sen. Harmon (D-Oak Park), would require public employees in state agencies or the Governor to choose binding arbitration in the event that ongoing contract negotiations with the state reach an impasse and cannot be arbitrated. The union’s right-to-strike would be waived, and a lockout would be prohibited. The legislation would only impact state agency contracts through 2019. The bill passed both chambers and now goes to the Governor.

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Pension legislation post ruling


The state will make its full pension payment for fiscal year 2016, but lawmakers are struggling with solving pension challenges after the Illinois Supreme Court ruled Senate Bill 1 unconstitutional.  Sen. Cullerton has proposed a concept similar to that outlined in SB 2404, our union-negotiated pension reform legislation. Other ideas include re-amortizing state pension debt and offering choices for current Tier 1 members. None of these ideas has been formalized into bill language.        

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Charter cap bill tabled


HB 814, sponsored by Rep. Andrade (D - Chicago), would lift the cap on charter schools. The bill was approved in House committee and moved to the floor. HB 814 mirrors Gov. Rauner’s proposal for charter school expansion. The bill has been tabled.


HB 494removes barriers to school employment HB 494, sponsored by Rep. Cassidy (D-Chicago), removes non-violent offenses from being permanent or long-term bans to school employment. The bill also changes the grounds for revocation of licenses and disqualification for employment and licensure.

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Educator licensure trailer approved


HB 2657, sponsored by Rep. Pritchard (R-Hinckley), is an omnibus ISBE licensure trailer bill to PA 97-607. The bill amends sections of the school code concerning teacher preparation, out-of-state educator and administrator reciprocity, license fees, and educator misconduct.

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Museums approved to provide PD


HB 2807, sponsored by Rep. C. Mitchell (D-Chicago) and Sen. Connelly (R-Wheaton), returns museums to the list of acceptable PD providers for the purpose of educator license renewal. Under the bill, the list of approved providers would now be: ISBE, ROEs, unions, colleges and universities, school districts, and non-profits that provide PD for ELL instructors.

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Advance placement credit


HB 3428, sponsored by Rep. Sente (D-Vernon Hills), provides that beginning with the 2016-17 academic year, scores of 3, 4, and 5 on the College Board Advanced Placement examinations shall be accepted for credit to satisfy degree requirements by all public institutions of higher education. The legislation passed both chambers and heads to the Governor for consideration.  

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Student teacher background checks


SB 706, sponsored by Sen. Cunningham (D-Chicago), requires non-public schools to perform criminal background checks on student teachers.

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Parents’ decision – opt out of PARCC


HB 306, sponsored by Rep. Guzzardi (D-Chicago), creates a structure for parents who wish to opt their children out of PARCC testing. HB 306 also requires schools to notify parents annually about their right to opt their children out of testing. The measure passed the House with bi-partisan support but remains in the Senate Committee on Assignments.

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Lengthy discussion on charter commission bill


HB 397, sponsored by Rep. Welch (D – Westchester) and Sen. Holmes (D - Aurora), would change the appeal process for charter school applications that are rejected by a local school board. Currently, appeals are made to the state Charter School Commission. Under HB 397, the appeal process would involve a referendum by local voters and would remove the ability of any state entity to overturn the decision of a local school board to deny a charter school application. The Senate Education Committee held a lengthy hearing on the bill, but no vote is scheduled.

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Charter accountability law passes


SB 1591, sponsored by Rep. Martwick (D-Chicago) and Sen. Collins (D-Chicago), requires disclosure of criminal and civil investigations for any group submitting a charter school proposal. The bill passed both chambers.

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Financial fee reduction resolution


HR 531, sponsored by Rep. Madigan (D-Chicago), urges the state not to reduce assistance to cities unless those cuts are related to reductions in fees paid by the state to the financial services industry. The resolution was approved in the House.

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