With three weeks remaining in the scheduled legislative session, proposals to address the budget impasse continue to surface. The focus so far has been on the Senate package of bills, called by some the “Grand Bargain”. Less contentious parts of the package have passed the Senate and await House votes, while more controversial bills have yet to be voted on in either chamber.

Most recently, the Senate has been working off of a “5-5-5 concept” proposal. Introduced by Senator Bill Brady (Brady, R-Bloomington), the legislation proposes an income tax raised to near five percent, $5 billion in spending cuts and a five year freeze on property taxes.

The proposal is being monitored as it moves through the Senate. IEA supports the proposal  for more revenue and opposes the property tax freeze and all parts of the governor’s “Turnaround Agenda” that are reflected in the cuts.

School Funding Legislation

The Senate and the House continue to have discussions on school funding and proposals to  restructure the school funding formula.  Three bills reported on in previous updates, SB 1 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill), SB 1124 (Barickman, R-Bloomington) and HB 2808 (Davis, D-Homewood), are similar in that they combine many of the current streams of funding (General State Aid, most special education, bilingual, etc.) into one source of funds and use research into best practices to determine what a school district needs to provide a quality education to all students.

However, the bills differ in the way funds will be distributed.  Some of these bills have been  tied to other pieces of legislation that eliminate requirements like physical education, driver’s education, etc. There has been no financial analysis published about the impact. Until an analysis is released, IEA will be unable to take a position on the legislation.

Last Thursday, the Senate Education Committee held a subject matter hearing on SB 1 and SB 1124. Senator Manar and Senator Barickman described their specific bills and some of the differences between the two. Senator Manar also filed an amendment decoupling SB 1 from the rest of the “grand bargain” bills, which would have required all bills in the grand bargain to become law and if any one does not, none of them become law.

IEA opposes several of the bills in the Senate package, including the property tax freeze, and changing some school mandate requirements and pension reform. We are encouraged by the decoupling of the Manar bill and are looking forward to a full analysis of the bill’s fiscal implications.

Senator Barickman has coupled his evidence-based funding legislation (SB 1124) with two other pieces of legislation – SB 1125 and SB 2172.

SB 1125 contains “mandate relief” that removes requirements to provide daily physical education, driver’s education and third party contracting protections. SB 2172 makes changes to the pension systems. IEA is opposed to both of these bills, and is, therefore, opposed to Senator Barickman’s entire school funding package.

HB 2808 is the only bill to have passed out of a legislative committee. This week, the sponsor of the bill told the House Education Funding Task Force that an amendment will be filed that will make substantive changes to the “hold harmless” provisions, calculation of local capacity and distribution of funds. There are no other bills tied to HB 2808 at this time and no mandate changes or pension changes in the current bill.

Pension Legislation

HB 4045 (Currie, D-Chicago) inserts the “consideration model” that would require members of TRS, SURS, SERS, GARS, and CTPF to exchange their Tier 1 COLA for the right to have future raises to be counted as pensionable, or keep their COLA and sacrifice future raises as pensionable. It also allocates a one-time normal cost payment to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund of $215.2 million for FY17. The bill opens up the option for Tier 1 TRS, SURS, SERS and GARS employees to participate in a defined contribution (DC) plan. Lastly, it creates a voluntary Tier 3 Hybrid defined benefit/defined contribution plan for new Tier 2 employees under TRS, SURS, and certain SERS members who do not participate in Social Security.

This legislation is assigned to the Personnel and Pensions Committee. IEA opposes the legislation.

Important Dates       

  • May 26 – Final 3rd Reading deadline (both chambers)
  • May 31 – Adjournment

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

Next Week:

All legislators have been invited to a screening of Resilience, being held Wed., May 17 at the Hoogland Center in Springfield. Resilience explores how treating those suffering from stress caused by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can improve kids’ lives, especially in poorer communities. Resilience Screening Invitation

Advance Illinois Fair School Funding Rally is Wed., May 17 at the Capital from 1:00pm to 3:00pm. Advance Illinois Rally

The Senate and House will be in session Monday, May 15. To be connected to the latest information, “like” IEA on Facebook, follow IEANEA on Twitter and bookmark the IEA website.