In the next five days, we will know whether the General Assembly will pass a state budget. The prospects don’t look favorable, but an effort is being made in both chambers to come up with a plan that satisfies the Senate, House and governor.

The Senate passed a state budget and revenue package last week and sent the bills to the House for consideration. This weekend, the House will debate bills that could result in a balanced budget. If passed, the budget would be sent to the governor for approval.

This is a critical time for IEA members to make their voices heard.

Yesterday, we sent out a request for a Call to Action:

Tell legislators to oppose the pension-cutting bills awaiting votes in the House. HB 4027 (Durkin, R-Burr Ridge), HB 4045 (Currie, D-Chicago) and SB 16 (J. Cullerton, D-Chicago) cut constitutionally-protected pension benefits, and tell them to pass a preK-12 budget and HB 109 which provides a lifeline to higher education. 

 

Please go to the IEA website and send a message to your state representative!

The key budget-related legislative proposals being discussed are:

SB 6 (Steans, D-Chicago/Harris, D-Chicago) which contains supplemental appropriations for some state agencies for FY 17 and a full year budget for FY 18, including Pre-K through 12 and higher education. IEA supports this legislation.

SB 9 (Cullerton, D-Chicago/Ives, R-Wheaton) is a revenue bill designed to raise $5.4 billion by raising tax rates, closing corporate tax loopholes and taxing new services. The bill raises the state income tax rate to 4.95 percent from 3.75 percent and the corporate income tax rate would be hiked to 7 percent from 5.25 percent. The bill passed out of the Senate on a roll call of 32-26, with only Democrats voting in support. Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) is the bill’s House sponsor.  She picked up the bill so it could be changed. An amendment was filed which retains some of the tax credit language but removes other provisions, including those calling for raising income and corporate tax rates. The bill has been assigned to the House revenue committee for Monday. It’s unknown what the Democrats will do and if they will file and pass a similar revenue-generating bill and send it over to the Senate. IEA supports this legislation.

SB 42 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill/Harris, D-Chicago) is the budget implementation bill. It redefines the Common Fund to include the Common School Fund, the General Revenue Common School Special Account Fund, the Education Assistance Fund, the Fund for the Advancement of Education, the Commitment to Human Services Fund and the Budget Stabilization Fund. The impact of this bill may be to give the General Assembly greater latitude in spending. IEA is neutral on this legislation, which passed over from the Senate. We were opposed to an earlier version but those concerns have been removed.

Fiscal year 2018 budget  

SB 6 provides funding for some entities in the current fiscal year, as well as the upcoming fiscal year 2018 budget for state operations.  Pre-K-12 education would see a $330 million increase over fiscal year 2017 under this bill. A majority of these new funds would be distributed through an assumed new single, primary funding formula, with some grants including early childhood education, student assessments and transportation funding, remaining outside the formula.

The single formula (referenced in SB 1 and HB 2808) is the “evidence-based model.” As we have reported in previous Legislative Updates, this model is designed to combine individual grants and disburse the funds through one primary formula.  The majority of the funding distributed to school districts is through the General State Aid (GSA) formula and mandated categorical (services districts are required by law to provide and for which they receive reimbursement). This new model would combine funding from GSA, bilingual education and several of the special education line items into one funding stream (special education and bilingual education services would still be required to be provided to students). Neither SB 1 nor HB 2808 has passed both chambers of the General Assembly at this time.

In this budget, higher education would receive supplemental funding for the current fiscal year to bring institutions up to the funding level they had received in fiscal year 2015. The bill also appropriates fiscal year 2018 funding to higher education, though institutions and community colleges would take a 10 percent cut from what they received in fiscal year 2015. MAP funding is appropriated at the fiscal tear 2015 level. Overall, funding for higher education would be $149.7 million less than it was in fiscal year 2015.

The budget situation is very fluid. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Executive Committee on Monday.

Pension bills – ACTION NEEDED

Three pension bills in the House of Representatives require action by our members. HB 4027 (Durkin, R-Burr Ridge), HB 4045 (Currie, D-Chicago) and SB 16 (J. Cullerton, D-Chicago) cut constitutionally protected pension benefits by unilaterally forcing active educators in the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) and State Universities Retirement System (SURS) to choose between giving up the three percent compounded retirement cost of living adjustment (COLA) to allow for future salary increases to continue to be pensionable, or keeping the COLA in retirement while future salary increases would not be used to calculate their future pension annuity. These bills also include a TRS and SURS pension cost shift that will move pension costs from the state onto downstate/suburban school districts, community colleges and universities statewide. A comprehensive fact sheet on these bills can be found here IEA ESP members should know the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) also opposes this legislation. IEA and the We Are One Illinois Coalition strongly oppose these proposals and consider them to be unconstitutional.

Please contact your state representative and urge him or her to oppose HB 4027, HB 4045 and SB 16. Contact information for your legislators can be found here.

Charter schools – ACTION NEEDED

HB 768 (Welch, D-Hillside) removes a provision allowing the Illinois Charter School Commission to reverse a school board’s decision to deny, revoke or not renew a charter. This bill is an IEA initiative that is currently on third reading in the Senate. Please contact your state senator and ask him or her to SUPPORT House Bill 768 when it comes to the floor for a vote.

Substitute teacher shortage

HB 751 (Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville) allows a retired teacher to substitute in subject shortage areas without impairing his or her retirement status or retirement annuity and changes the ending date of the employment to no later than June 30, 2020. IEA supports the legislation, which passed out of committee.

HB 3080 (Reis, R-Willow Hill) would increase the number of days a retired teacher could substitute in a classroom to 120 days or 600 hours in a school year, but not more than 100 days in the same classroom in a school year. This legislation would not impair his or her retirement status for the period beginning July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019. IEA supports the legislation, which passed out of committee.

Committee action

HB 3052 (Jones, D-Dolton) is special legislation that would require a specific school district to reduce its tax levy to match that of a neighboring district. IEA opposed this legislation, which passed out of the House executive committee on a vote of 6-3.

Important dates                                   

  • May 31 – Adjournment

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

Next week:

The Senate and House are scheduled to remain in session through May 31. To be connected to the latest information, “like” IEA on Facebook, follow IEANEA on Twitter and bookmark the IEA website.