This past week, the General Assembly continued with a focus on negotiating and preparing bills to be ready to move through the committee process. Next week, there will be a number of subject matter hearings. A subject matter hearing enables members of the General Assembly to be informed about an issue without the pressure of voting on a piece of legislation. Some of the issues we will be involved with discussing include: Career and Technical Education (CTE); the Competency-Based Pilot Program and the Postsecondary Workforce Readiness Act; educator testing for teacher licensing; appropriations for the Illinois Labor Relations Board, Illinois Department of Labor and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. From these hearings will emerge legislation that is likely to be voted on in the next two weeks.

Repeal 3 percent

We need your help in telling our lawmakers to reverse the 3 percent salary threshold and put it back to 6 percent. Click here to sign the 3% repeal petition and email your legislators.

Committee action bills

SB28 (Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood) Provides that for a pupil of legal school age and in kindergarten through grade 12, a day of attendance shall be counted only for sessions of not less than five clock hours of school work per day. There was an amendment that addressed the pupil participation and how the activities shall be counted in the calculation of the clock hours of the school day. These activities include supervised career development, the youth apprenticeship and the blended e-learning program. The IEA supports the Senate Floor Amendment No. 1 that passed out of the Senate Education Committee.

SB1731 (Sen. David Koehler, D-Edwards; Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago; Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood) With regard to the in-service training program on the warning signs of mental illness and suicidal behavior in youth, provides the program must utilize evidence-based training that educates the participants on recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental illness and substance use disorders. Provides that a school district may utilize the Mental Health First Aid training program to provide the training. The IEA supports this bill, and it is on the order of second reading.

House Personnel and Pensions Committee update

The committee held a hearing about retirement preparedness and Tier 2 reform proposals this week. The IEA, through the We Are One coalition, offered testimony outlining the issues with the current structure of the Tier 2 pension benefit structure. The issues highlighted are as follows:

  1. Age 67 should not be a normal retirement age for classroom teachers.
  2. Tier 2 is obviously impacting teacher recruitment and retention.
  3. Members in Tier 2 pay 9 percent of their salary even though the cost to fund their benefit is only 7.53 percent of their salary. This results in a surcharge on Tier 2 members of 1.47 percent of their salary.
  4. Tier 2 likely will fail the Social Security Safe Harbor test. Meaning, since Tier 2 does not provide benefits that are at least equal to Social Security, the participants in the system may need to begin participation in Social Security. If that occurs, school districts and teachers will each be required to pay the 6.2 percent (for a total of 12.4 percent) of salary required to fund Social Security benefits. This issue has never been faced by a state before and Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) stated they believe the issue will come to a head by 2027.

The committee heard testimony from TRS, SURS, and SRS and also heard testimony from employing entities like the City of Chicago and the Illinois Municipal League.

Important dates

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

Next week

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