IEA Member Colleagues,
It is my hope that this message finds you and your loved ones in good health. All of you, education support professional staff who continue to provide lunches for the neediest of students; to the teachers working through the new world of remote learning; to our higher ed members, finishing the last days of the semester with your students at a distance, I thank you so very much. Your expertise, professionalism and caring hearts continue to have a positive impact on your students and their families. Each of you are keeping public education strong and I am confident you will do everything possible to make sure all our students continue to make progress during these most difficult times.
The Illinois General Assembly will be returning to Springfield this week to resume the legislative session that was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to make sure you are aware of what we anticipate will take place during the next two weeks.
On Wednesday, the Illinois General Assembly will resume its legislative session and will most likely conclude on, or before, its May 31 deadline. The remaining days of this session will move very quickly and the topics that will be addressed will be limited to the state budget, COVID-19, capital infrastructure, the 2020 election and planning for an economic recovery.
As you are aware, in 2019, the IEA had one of the most successful legislative sessions in our collective history. We repealed the 3 percent salary threshold, passed a minimum teacher salary, increased the minimum wage, fully funded the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), the Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP/TRAIL), the State Universities Retirement Systems (SURS), and were successful in securing significant increases in preK-12 and higher education funding. Earlier this year, the IEA was shepherding additional legislative measures though the General Assembly that would have furthered the cause of public education. When the world changed in March, it forced us to delay those legislative measures until the 2021 legislative session.
Now, because the legislative session is short and the issues are few, we have one target: the state budget. We understand state revenues have dramatically declined, and the General Assembly will have to make significant cuts within the state budget in order to make ends meet. We are supporting the more equitable Fair Tax Amendment in November and believe the money generated by it will help the state stabilize the budget and find the revenue necessary to repair the damage that’s been caused by this economic downturn. The Fair Tax is a long-term fix, but it won’t go into effect until after this fiscal year (July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021).
Understanding that time is of the essence, our priorities for the next 15 days will be:
- Protecting and maintaining state support for public education at all levels so our students will receive the education they need and deserve.
- Ensuring TRS and SURS receive the proper funding needed to maintain stability during turbulent economic times.
- Maintaining state support for TRIP and TRAIL for our retired members.
If we are successful with these three priorities, we will have achieved a legislative victory during some of our darkest times. Our country and our state are hurting, and the IEA must continue to advocate that public education in Illinois continues to respect educators and prioritizes the importance of success for all our children.
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.