As we approach the final few weeks of the scheduled spring legislative session, much of the discussion has shifted to the budget and whether the legislative leaders will reach an agreement before the end of May.

IEA leaders and staff have been in conversations with the various caucuses to articulate our desired outcome for the Fiscal Year 2019 budget. We are requesting the following:

  • Full education funding for K-12 education, including an increase for the evidence-based model;
  • An increase or level funding for higher education;
  • Payment of the full certified pension contribution to TRS and SURS;
  • Continued funding for the Teachers Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP)/College Insurance Program (CIP).

We have also conveyed our strong opposition to any proposal that would include a shift of the normal pension costs from the state to local school districts and institutions of higher education.

In addition to advocating for the budget, we were focused on passing a bill in the Senate that would provide much needed financial stability to members who are drastically undercompensated. On Thursday, the Illinois Senate passed IEA’s initiative, SB 2892 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill). This bill adjusts the minimum teacher salary that was set in the early 1980s. Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, the minimum salary shall be no less than $32,076 and will increase incrementally until the minimum salary is $40,000 in the 2022-23 school year. After that, the state’s minimum salary would increase by the equivalent of the consumer price index each year moving forward.  The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

IEA-initiated bills

SB 2838 (Link, D-Waukegan) empowers the Illinois State Board of Education to implement a program and adopt rules to allow school districts to supplement their substitute teacher recruitment for elementary and secondary schools with the use of recruiting firms. The legislation prohibits school districts from using recruiting firms to circumvent collective bargaining agreements or laws. This bill passed the Senate Elementary and Secondary Education Licensing, Administration and Oversight committee unanimously.

HB 4768 (Wheeler, R-Chrystal Lake) amends the school board member oath to include a commitment to be responsible for the quality of education of every student in the school district, and not just assume fiscal responsibility. This bill passed the Senate Education committee unanimously.

Committee action bills

HB 5137 (Martwick, D-Chicago) creates an optional and supplemental 403b-like deferred compensation savings plan option for active participants in the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS). This bill passed the License Activities and Pensions committee unanimously. The IEA supports this legislation.

HB 5696 (Welch, D-Hillsdale) creates the Bridge Program for Under-represented Students Act which provides that each public university in this state may establish a bridge program for under-represented students. The program is designed to support under-represented students at public universities. This bill passed the Senate Higher Education committee unanimously. The IEA supports this legislation.

SB 2546 (Biss, D-Skokie) amends the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act to provide that the term “student” within the definition of “educational employee” or “employee” as used in the act excludes (rather than includes) graduate students who are research assistants primarily performing duties that involve research, graduate assistants primarily performing duties that are pre-professional, graduate students who are teaching assistants primarily performing duties that involve the delivery and support of instruction, or any other graduate assistants. This bill passed the House Labor and Commerce committee on a vote of 15-10 on May 16. The IEA supports this legislation.

Important dates

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

Next week:

  • The Senate and the House are in session next week.
  • The Senate and House are scheduled to remain in session through May 31.