Beyond the public health impact, COVID-19 has been devastating for the state’s economy and working families. With most business and commerce shut down to prevent spread of the deadly coronavirus, the impact to the state’s finances has been severe and immediate. On April 15, the governor announced a projected $2.7 billion deficit for the rest of Fiscal Year 2020 and a Fiscal Year 2021 deficit that could reach $7.2 billion.
With the projected hit to state finances, the IFT organized and mobilized to advocate for public education (preK-12, colleges, and universities) funding, vital state services, and much-needed economic relief for Illinois residents.
The Illinois House and Senate convened for an abbreviated session May 20-23. This was the first time either chamber had met since early March. May 31 is typically the last day of session, but with a limited agenda and focus on the state’s budget, the House and Senate completed their work in the four-day shortened session.
In February, there was a possibility of continued increases to Evidence-Based Funding for K-12 education and a long-overdue funding increase for higher education. However, the economic picture in the country and the state are much different today. With the economic impact of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of whether there will be federal dollars to replace lost state revenues, The state approved a maintenance budget that includes relief for citizens most-impacted by the fiscal downturn. To maintain spending, the state may borrow up to $5 billion from the Federal Reserve. The borrowing plan was far better than the alternative – a 35% across the board cut in state spending.
The House and Senate also passed legislation dealing with substantive issues related to COVID-19. This included a K-12 package to codify many of the measures enacted in previous executive orders, unemployment changes for non-instructional education employees, and an expansion of the state’s vote by mail program for the 2020 election.
Following is an overview of the FY 2021 budget and other legislative changes:
FY2021 Budget - SB 264 (Harmon, D-Oak Park)
Same appropriation for the evidence-based model (EBM) as prior year
Because funding for the EBM is constant from last year, there will be no changes in the funding tiers, with the intent that each district will receive the same funding as they did the prior year
Generally, the same appropriation for public universities and community colleges
Same appropriation for the Monetary Assistance Program (MAP)
Retiree health insurance programs
Funds the certified payment for TRIP/TRAIL (retired teachers health insurance)
Funds the certified payment to CIP (retired community college health insurance)
Funds the certified payment to the state’s