This week, the Illinois Senate began work on passing bills contained within the package of legislation intended to address the statewide budget impasse. As expected, three of the bills passed: SB 3 (Local government consolidation), on a vote of 36-14-7, SB 8 (procurement reform) 34-14-11 and SB 10 (local governments assign receipts) 36-13-10. No Republican Senators voted for bills, which now move to the House for committee consideration.

Many thanks to IEA members who took the time to call their state Senators and express opposition to the bill. As the vote shows, your voice was heard.

Committee Action

House Education Committee bills
HB 213 (Ford, D-Chicago) creates a state lottery voucher scheme. The IEA opposes this legislation. It failed in committee by a vote of 4-14 and will remain in committee.

Labor Committee bills
HB 447 (Ives, R-Wheaton) was defeated on a 12-17 roll call in the House Labor & Commerce Committee. IEA and IFT slipped in opposition to the bill that was introduced for the fifth time. The proposal would have mandated that once an agreement is reached between a public or educational employer and its employees, the agreement’s terms would be published on the website of the public or educational employer. We argued that those contracts are bargained in confidence, generally require mutual compromise and that removing confidentiality lessens the chance of reaching compromise agreements that are good for students, school districts, our members and taxpayers.

Pension Legislation

Pension-cutting bill fails
SB 11, sponsored by Senate President Cullerton, D-Chicago, failed in the Illinois Senate by a vote of 18-29-10.  The legislation would force current active employees in the Teachers’ Retirement System and the State Universities Retirement System to choose between either giving up their 3% compounded retirement cost of living adjustment (COLA) to allow for future salary increases to continue to be pensionable, or keeping their COLA while future salary increases would not be used to calculate their future pension annuity.

The IEA, along with the We Are One Illinois Coalition, are firmly opposed to this proposal and consider as unconstitutional as was the 2013 pension cutting bill, SB 1.

Action is needed
TRS and SURS pension cost-shifting is still being considered. Contained within the amended  SB 11, was a provision that would have shifted pension costs from the state onto suburban/downstate school districts and to universities and community colleges statewide. IEA is opposes this idea since it will further erode educational opportunities for students by diverting local dollars away from classrooms.

Use the following link to lookup your Representatives phone number and help the IEA defeat this proposal by simply asking your state representative to co-sponsor HR 27 (McSweeney-R) and HR 38 (Skillicorn-R). View a fact sheet for these resolutions. We will soon have a senate resolution opposing the pension cost-shift to be introduced next week.

Pension bill of note
HB 315 (Batnick, R-Plainfield) would allow inactive members of the five state retirement systems to take a lump sum buyout. The buyout would be equal to 70 percent of today’s value of one’s vested pension benefits. Anyone taking this buyout would not be able to reestablish service credit for years payments were taken. However, if one resumed employment, that individual could only earn pensionable service credit prospectively. IEA is monitoring this legislation and commend the sponsor for being mindful of the Pension Protection Clause within the Illinois Constitution while drafting this bill.

Bills introduced but not assigned to committee

SB1239 (McCann, R-Jacksonville) mandates teachers be provided with in-service training. Twenty hours of training must be completed annually, 10 hours of which may be completed through online learning, if the online learning requires proof of proficiency.

SB863 (Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield) requires ISBE appointments made after the effective date of the Amendatory Act must represent the educator community.

SB865 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) requires a school district report card to include the total and per pupil normal cost amount the state contributed to the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois in the prior fiscal year for the district’s employees.

SB926 (Jones III, D-Chicago) provides that a public university or community college district may not prohibit a student from registering for classes or refuse to issue a student transcript solely because the student owes the university or district money.

HB 2442 (Bennett, D-Pontiac) provides that the state assessments in high schools, administered by the State Board of Education for the purpose of student application for admissions consideration by institutions of higher education, must be administered on a school day during regular student attendance hours.

HB2443 (Bennett, D-Pontiac) provides that a school district may offer a driver education course in a school by contracting with a commercial driver training school to provide both the classroom instruction part and the practice driving part, or either one, without having to request a modification or waiver of administrative rules of the state board of education.

HB2444 (Bennett, D-Pontiac) amends the school code with respect to a provision concerning third party non-instructional services to allow a board of education to enter into a contract with a third party for non-instructional services currently performed by any employee or bargaining unit member or from laying off those educational support personnel employees upon 30 days written notice to the affected.

HB2470 (Walsh Jr., D-Joliet) provides that a career and technical educator or a part-time provisional career and technical educator endorsement may be issued to an applicant who, among other requires, has a minimum of 60 semester hours of coursework from a regionally accredited institution of higher education or an accredited trade and technical institution.

HB2405 (Ives, R-Wheaton) requires each pension system to implement a Tier 3 plan by July 1, 2018, that aggregates state and employee contributions in individual participant accounts which are used for payouts after retirement. Provides that a person who becomes a participant of a pension system on or after July 1, 2018, shall participate in the Tier 3 plan instead of the defined benefit plan. Authorizes a Tier 1 or Tier 2 participant to elect to participate in the Tier 3 plan instead of the defined benefit plan, elect to terminate all participation in the defined benefit plan and to have a specified amount credited to his or her account.

HB2374 (DeLuca, Chicago Heights) provides that each school bus manufactured on or after the effective date of this bill and purchased for use in this state by a school district or a school bus company under contract with a school district shall be equipped with a lap belt or any other federally approved restraint system in a number sufficient to allow each passenger being transported to use a separate belt or restraint system.

HB2397 (Crespo, D-Streamwood) amends the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law in the Property Tax Code. Provides that, if, at the end of any levy year, a taxing district has reserves of 50 percent or more of its operating budget for that levy year, then, for the next levy year, “extension limitation” means 0 percent or the rate of increase approved by the voters. Preempts the power of home rule units to tax.

Updates

Illinois School Funding Reform Commission (ISFRC)
Gov. Rauner created the ISFRC on July 12, 2016 with the stated purpose of making recommendations to the General Assembly on revisions to the current school funding formula. In addition to appointments made by the governor, both Democratic and Republican leaders from both chambers made five appointments each for a total of twenty-five members.

Beginning in August, the full commission met eighteen times, in addition to establishing several working groups to discuss specific topics. Commission members heard from various experts on a broad spectrum of topics, including adequacy vs. equity, low-income students, pensions, distribution of funds, special education funding, funding for English Language Learners, mandates, accountability and transparency, school choice, property taxes, transportation, etc. For more information on the Commission, including all materials, go to ISBE.net.

The Commission was tasked with submitting a report to the Governor and General Assembly by Feb.1, 2017. While the members did not put forward specific legislative language proposals, they did try to include areas in which they’d reached consensus with the goal of providing a framework for legislative change to the General Assembly. The full report card be found at ISBE.net. While there are several areas of agreement expressed in the report, there are still several items on which the commission members were unable to reach consensus. The major provisions of the proposed funding framework expressed in the report include:

  • Creation of an integrated formula that would combine many, but not all, the existing sources of funding into a single distribution formula.
  • Creation of individual district adequacy targets based on the needs of the district student population.
  • An adequacy target which would be calculated based on poverty concentration, the English Language Learner population, student count, etc. of individual districts
  • When new money is added, districts farthest away from adequacy would receive increased funding first.
  • Any distribution model should continue to take into consideration local contributions.
  • The integrated formula would include a “hold harmless” provision so that districts per pupil funding level will not change (no consensus on permanent or temporary hold harmless).
  • Certain existing sources of funding like early childhood education and transportation should be left out of the integrated formula.
  • Creation of a Commission to continuously review and suggest updates or changes to the formula model.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plan
The State Board of Education has finished the third draft of the Illinois’ ESSA state plan. The plan was sent to the governor for comment on Feb. 1, and is also still out for public comment through the end of the month. The draft report is available at ISBE.net. The state plan includes provisions on accountability, assessments, and a statewide system of support, as well as other topics, for Illinois schools. ISBE intends to submit the final plan to the U.S. Department of Education by the first submission deadline on April 3. For more information on the Every Student Succeeds Act, visit ISBE.net.

Important Dates
Feb. 10 – Deadline for the Introduction of House and Senate Bills
Feb. 15 – Governor’s Budget address
Mar. 17 – Bills out of Senate Committee
Mar. 31 – Bills out of House Committee
Apr. 28 – 3rd Reading deadline (both chambers)
May 12 – Deadline for House bills to get out of Senate Committee
May 19 – Deadline for Senate bills to get out of House Committee
May 26 – Final 3rd Reading deadline (both chambers)
May 31 – Adjournment

A schedule for each chamber can be found on the General Assembly website.

Legislative Committees
IEA Government Relations staff track education, revenue, pension and labor bills through a variety of committees in the General Assembly. A list of the House and Senate committees and members can be found on the General Assembly website.

Next week

The Senate and House return Wednesday, Feb. 15. We anticipate legislative hearings to begin in earnest and we will keep you informed.

Gov. Rauner will deliver his budget address on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 12:00 noon.