Both chambers reconvened this week to begin considering bills that had passed the chamber of origin. The deadline to pass constitutional amendments for consideration on the November ballot was May 5. The constitutional amendments the IEA supported to change the tax structure and increase education revenues will not appear on the ballot this fall. Below is an update of legislative action this week.

1Constitutional Amendments

SJRCA 1 (Harmon, D-Oak Park) and HJRCA 57 (Mitchell, D-Chicago) would allow voters to amend the Illinois Constitution on the November ballot to enable Illinois to move to a graduated income tax. The graduated income tax is estimated to raise $1.9 billion in new revenue while ensuring that 99 percent of Illinois tax filers would see a reduction in the amount of income taxes owed. Neither amendment was called for a vote.

HJRCA 26 (Madigan, D-Chicago), also known as the millionaire’s surcharge amendment, failed to get enough votes to be on the November ballot. The proposal, which would generate nearly $1 billion for education to be allocated on a per pupil basis, would impose a 3 percent surcharge on individual earnings in excess of $1 million. The amendment received 68 votes, three short of the 71 needed for consideration in the Senate.

2Higher Education Funding

The Senate passed SB 2048 (J. Cullerton, D-Chicago), which provides approximately $450 million in additional revenue for community colleges, the Illinois Students Assistance Commission and specific universities for Fiscal Year 2016. This measure, which passed on a bipartisan roll call, would provide $90 million to community colleges for operating expenses, $46 million in MAP funding, and specific grants to the Illinois Math and Science Academy ($4.2M), Northeastern Illinois University ($10M), Southern Illinois University ($53.7M), University of Illinois ($159.4M), Eastern Illinois University ($11.6M), Illinois State University ($19.5M), Northern Illinois University ($24.6M) and Western Illinois University ($13.9M). The bill must now be taken up by the House of Representatives.

3Committee Bill Assignments

HB 5729 (K. Burke, D-Evergreen Park/Biss, D-Evanston) passed the House with unanimous support. The IEA supports the initiative and was involved in the creation of the bill which addresses the concern that approximately half of Illinois high school graduates enrolling as full-time freshmen in Illinois public community colleges require remedial education. The bill passed the House and is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Higher Education Committee next week.

There are four key components of the bill: 1) Student readiness for postsecondary education and careers cannot be reduced to a single metric, but must instead be understood as a multi-faceted set of knowledge, skills, and abilities that allow students to successfully meet the challenges of postsecondary education and career. 2) Enabling high school students to engage in career and postsecondary education development activities and incentivizing achievement in career-oriented education. 3) Create strategies to prepare more students for meaningful career opportunities by supporting postsecondary and career planning, promoting and incentivizing competency-based learning programs, reducing remedial education rates, increasing alignment between K-12 and postsecondary education systems, and implementing college and career pathway systems. 4) Aligning support from state agencies, school districts, postsecondary education providers, employers, and other public and private organizations to develop and implement and more robust and coordinated postsecondary education and career readiness system in Illinois.

HB 5918 (Thapedi, D-Chicago/Martinez, D-Chicago) attempted to change the renewal period for charter schools to a range of five to ten years and capped the initial authorizing period for a new charter school to five years. The IEA negotiated an amendment that would prohibit charter schools authorized by the State Charter School Commission from being renewed for longer than five years. The IEA is neutral with the amendment. The bill passed the House and is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Education Committee next week.

SB 2912 (Luechtefeld, R-Okawville/Rita, D-Blue Island) is an initiative of the State Board of Education that makes various changes concerning educator licensure with respect to requirements for individuals with teaching credentials from other states and creates a provisional in-state endorsement. IEA supported the bill when it was amended to remove the language that would allow individuals with 60 hours of college coursework to substitute teach (current requirement is 120 hours).  The bill passed the Senate and is scheduled to be heard in a House education committee next week.

SB 3304 (Rose, R-Mahomet) would allow a licensed physician to teach one high school class per year in a public school district if the course is approved by the State Board of Education. IEA is opposed to this bill which is scheduled to be heard next week in the Senate Education Committee.

4Floor Bill Action

HB 306 (Guzzardi, D-Chicago/Delgado, D-Chicago) would allow a parent or guardian the ability to opt their student out of any state assessment. The bill passed out of the House a year ago. The bill was given a subject matter hearing in the Senate last year but was never called for a committee vote until this week. After a lengthy discussion in the Senate Executive Committee, the Senate sponsor did not ask for a committee vote and the bill remains in committee. The IEA was neutral on this bill.

SB 2440 (Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood/Pritchard, R-Hinckley) would provide that four years of working in the capacity of a school support personnel shall be counted towards a principal endorsement for a Professional Educator License until June 30, 2021 (previously June 30, 2019). IEA opposed this legislation. It passed the Senate last week. It was voted out of a House committee this week and is scheduled to be voted on by the full House.

5Property Tax Freeze

Last week, the House approved a bill that would place all units of local government, school districts, and community college districts under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) and freeze the property tax rate at the 2015 level. This legislation does not have an expiration on how long the freeze will be in effect.  Thus, the freeze would be permanent.  Additionally, the bill removed the current provision that would allow a county to hold a referendum to be exempt from the scope of PTELL. The PTELL law does allow units of local government to go above the cap with referendum approval. HB 696  (Franks, D-Woodstock/J. Cullerton, D-Chicago) exempts those units of local government that are home rule (including the City of Chicago) from the freeze. IEA opposed this bill which passed the House and was sent to the Senate for consideration.

Because this bill would have a negative impact on a school district’s ability to levy funds, we will be asking you to contact your State Senator if this bill gains traction in the Senate.

6General Assembly Schedule

The Senate and House reconvene Tuesday, May 10. Friday, May 13 is the deadline for bills to pass out of committee before being voted on for final action prior to the May 31 adjournment date.