Legislative Update for June 1, 2015

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End of Session – Round One

What’s Next?
While the regular spring session ended Sunday night and a budget was passed, the budget is unbalanced. The governor has indicated the budget would be vetoed if it reaches his desk because it’s unbalanced and because his reform demands have not been met. All this leads to overtime session this summer.

The Speaker announced that the House of Representatives will be back in session on June 4 and told House members to “be prepared to be in continuous session through the summer.” He told members to also be prepared to come back to Springfield within a 48-hour notice and no mileage or per diem would be reimbursed.

The Senate announced they will return to Springfield on Tuesday, June 9.

This update provides the most recent information we have on the FY16 budget and the final action of bills that we have included in the Legislative Updates since January. We will continue to provide Legislative Updates throughout the summer or when the General Assembly adjourns.

FY16 Budget Status
The General Assembly passed $36.3 billion in spending in various budget bills before leaving Springfield on Sunday. However, the estimated revenue for FY16 is only $32.139 billion. Since the legislature passed the budget bills with only Democratic votes and less than a 3/5th majority vote, it is widely predicted that the governor will veto the budget and the legislature will be forced to negotiate a new proposal.  Under normal circumstances, the General Assembly must send bills to the governor within 30 days and the governor has 60 days to act. However, using a parliamentary procedure, each of the budget bills had a “motion to reconsider” filed. This essentially stops the clock so the 30 day timeline does not begin until the motion to reconsider is lifted. It is unknown at this time what the next steps will be for the budget process, but we should begin to learn more as the General Assembly returns to Springfield in the coming weeks. The current fiscal year ends June 30 and some sort of budget will need to be in place by July 1 for non-emergency state services to continue.

HB 3763 and HB 4151, both of which passed the General Assembly and have motion to reconsider holds, fund K-12 education through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) budget. Under these bills, spending on K-12 education in FY16 would increase by $265 million. This includes increased funding for General State Aid (GSA), with an estimated proration of 92 percent. The bill also contains an additional $85 million that will be distributed to school districts most adversely impacted by a per pupil loss as a result of proration. This bill also funds mandated categoricals at the FY16 State Board recommended levels or flat at the FY15 level.  Early childhood education would see a $25 million increase from the final FY15 appropriation.

HB 3763 also contains the full pension contribution for the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) as certified by the TRS Board of Trustees.  This amounts to a $3.7 billion appropriation.  Additionally, the appropriations bill set aside $108 million to be paid to the Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP). This is the full amount required by law for this health insurance program that was set up for retired TRS participants.

The budget for the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Community College Board, Illinois Student Assistance Commission, public universities and community colleges is contained in HB 4146, HB 4147, HB 4148, SB 2029 and SB 2030. Operating grants to individual universities were decreased by 6.5 percent from the final FY15 appropriation but the budget for community college base operating grants remained flat. Funding for the Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) was increased by $32 million.  All five of these bills also passed both chambers and have motion to reconsider holds as well.

At this time, these bills are for informational purposes only. No budget will be finalized until it is signed by the governor.

Budget & Revenue Conversation Begins Anew
Because of the unbalanced nature of the FY16 budget passed by the General Assembly, the motions to reconsider and the anticipation that the governor will veto the budget bills if and when they reach his desk, the General Assembly will essentially begin the summer trying to negotiate a budget proposal which will require revenue increases, budget cuts or a combination of the two.

There was only one legislative measure (HJRCA 26) voted on this session that proposed revenue and it failed. Legislators did not vote on revenue generating legislation such as an income tax increase, sales tax increase or fee increases.

HJRCA 26 (Madigan) was a proposal voted on in May to amend the state constitution to allow a 3 percent tax surcharge on incomes of more than $1 million, which was estimated to generate revenue of around $1 billion that would be dedicated to education. Constitutional amendments are required to get a 3/5th majority vote in each chamber before being put to the voters on the ballot and HJRCA 26 failed to meet this threshold in the House by three votes. If this proposal is ever approved by the House and Senate it would be put to the voters on the November 2016 ballot. IEA supported this measure.

SB 1 Ruled Unconstitutional
On May 8, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously ruled that SB 1 was unconstitutional and struck down the entire bill. This was a huge victory for active and retired IEA members. No other pension bills were voted on that would affect benefits to current members in TRS and SURS.

Cost Shift Still a Threat
Because the ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court reaffirming that pension benefits “shall not be diminished or impaired” there is a renewed effort by some members in the General Assembly to shift pension costs of downstate and suburban teachers onto local school districts.

HR 187 that opposes the cost shift for K-12 education and higher education was strongly supported by the IEA.

HR 187 (McSweeney) illustrates the devastating impact of shifting the State’s pension costs of TRS and SURS participants to suburban and downstate schools, colleges and universities. Currently there are 62 cosponsors on the resolution, which has strong bipartisan support with 20 House Democrats and 42 House Republicans. IEA supports this proposal and we continue to add cosponsors to the resolution. If your state representative is not yet a cosponsor, please ask him or her to cosponsor HR 187. For more information, view the cosponsor list and HR 187 fact sheet.

Property Tax Freeze Bills
IEA is opposed to the property tax freeze amendments on House Bills 677, 695, 696 and 699 because each of these bills would prevent school districts and local governments from collecting revenue that is sufficient to cover their costs. This would affect not only schools, but also counties, townships, municipalities and other units of government. The amendment to HB 695 was debated and adopted, with 37 yes votes, 23 no votes and 38 members voting present (20 members did not vote).  No action was taken on the other amendments. For more information, view the fact sheet for these bills.

We do believe the property tax issue will continue to be debated during the summer by the governor and the legislative leaders.

Charter School Bills

Charter School Local Control
HB 397 (Welch/Holmes) passed the House and only received a subject matter hearing in the Senate Education Committee. This IEA initiative was never called for a vote in the Senate due to the actions of Senate President John Cullerton. Cullerton is not pleased with the bi-partisan fashion in which we serve our members’ interests.

HB 397 would remove the ability of any state entity to overturn the decision of a local school board to deny a charter school application. This bill addresses the appeal process when a charter application is denied by a local board of education.  We encourage you to continue talking to your legislators about this issue, focusing on your state senator. View the HB 397 fact sheet for more detailed information.

Lifting the Cap on Charter Schools
HB 814 (Andrade) was tabled in the House and did not receive a vote. This bill mirrors Governor Rauner’s proposal to eliminate the statutory cap on the number of charter schools in Illinois. Currently, Illinois law limits the number of charter schools to 120, with a maximum of 75 in Chicago and 45 in the remainder of the state. There are currently 67 charter schools open in Illinois; 52 in Chicago and 14 in the remainder of the state. IEA is opposed to this bill. View the HB 814 fact sheet for more information on IEA’s position.

Education Bills

PARCC Assessment Use
HJR 54 (Kay) was adopted by the House and is now in the Senate where it is sponsored by Senator Kyle McCarter. This IEA-supported resolution is the result of action taken by members at the 2014 IEA Representative Assembly through New Business Item #1. HJR 54 encourages school districts to not use the results of the PARCC exam as a determining factor for making decisions about students’ educational opportunities, the evaluation of educators and the allocation of resources based on education achievement for the 2014-2015 school year through the 2017-2018 school year. For more information, please see the fact sheet.

Testing Opt-Out
HB 306 (Guzzardi) passed out of the House and was given a subject matter hearing in the Senate but was never given a committee hearing or a vote. This bill would allow a parent or guardian the ability to opt their student out of any state assessment. The IEA was neutral on this bill.

Higher Education – Tuition Waivers
HB 403 (Franks) passed out of the House State Government and Administration Committee but the sponsor did not call the bill for a vote on the House floor. HB 403 eliminates the provision allowing 50 percent university tuition waivers for children of university staff and faculty.  University employees must work a minimum of seven years to qualify for this benefit. The bill was amended early in the legislative session to provide for a gradual phase-out of the program. IEA remains opposed to the elimination of tuition waivers. These waivers actually save the university money because they act as an incentive to retain staff and faculty. Waivers are used by a wide variety of children of university employees, including children of cooks, physical plant workers, secretaries and university faculty.

School Discipline
SB 100 (Lightford) passed both chambers and will be sent to the governor for action. The bill as amended makes changes to school discipline requirements for school districts. Some of the changes include encouraging districts to have a memorandum of understanding with local law enforcement that clearly defines law enforcement’s role in school districts and requiring school districts provide, in writing, the reasoning why a student is being expelled. It also limits out-of-school suspensions and expulsions only when other appropriate and available disciplinary interventions have been exercised and the student’s continued presence poses a threat to other students and staff or interrupts and impedes the operations of the school. After late session negotiating, the bill was amended in the House and the final opposition by the School Management Alliance was removed. IEA was neutral on SB 100.

Student Course Access
SB 1679 (Lightford) passed both chambers and will be sent to the governor for action. As introduced, this bill created the Course Access Act to provide a mechanism for providers to be approved to offer courses to students in a setting different than the traditional school district. As a result of a number of questions concerning funding and a lack of requirement that the teachers be licensed, IEA was opposed to the bill as introduced. However, the bill was amended in the House and the IEA is neutral on the final legislation. House Committee Amendment 1 changed the bill to require the State Superintendent of Education to establish a committee to review virtual education and other course choice opportunities and to look at issues like funding, access to technology and best practices.

Governor’s Turnaround Agenda
The governor’s Turnaround Agenda only received votes on the Senate bills in Senate committees and all the measures failed. The Senate constitutional amendments did not receive a committee vote. The House bills and constitutional amendments remain in the House Rules Committee. Here is a summary of the bills introduced.

  • HB 4222 (Durkin) – Lawsuit Reform
  • HB 4223 (Durkin) – Workers Compensation Reform
  • HB 4224 (Durkin) – Property Tax Freeze and Collective Bargaining Limitations
  • HJRCA 39 (Durkin) – Term Limits
  • HJRCA 40 (Durkin) – Redistricting Reform
  • SB 884 (Radogno) – Lawsuit Reform
  • SB 994 (Radogno) – Workers’ Comp Reform
  • SB 1046 (Radogno) – Property Tax Freeze and Collective Bargaining Limitations
  • SJRCA 14 (Radogno) – Term Limits
  • SJRCA 15 (Radogno) – Redistricting Reform

HB 4224 and SB 1046 limit collective bargaining issues by allowing school boards or voters in a school district to approve these limits. The restrictions to what could be collectively bargained include but are not limited to wages, health insurance, working conditions, staffing levels, layoffs and subcontracting. The legislation also freezes property taxes. The IEA opposes both of these bills.

Other Session Education Issues

School Funding Formula
School funding continued to be a major discussion topic throughout the spring session, but the regular session has concluded without any major movement on this topic. SB 1, Senator Manar’s modified school funding proposal from last year (SB 16), was assigned to the Senate Executive Committee early in the spring but no action was taken.  The House Education Funding Task Force continued meeting throughout the month of May to hear testimony from various interested parties regarding school funding, however, no legislative initiatives were put forward. We believe these discussions will continue on through the summer and fall.

Unfunded Mandates
Earlier this session we reported on several bills that were filed to remove mandates from school districts. HB 1330, HB 1448, HB 2536 and SB 114 included language that would eliminate or change requirements for daily physical education. SB 1507 allowed school districts to not comply with many statutory mandates or administrative rule mandates that are unfunded, with limited exceptions, by holding a public hearing and submitting the question to referendum. None of these bill were called for a hearing or vote in committee. IEA opposed all these initiatives.

In the March 27 Legislative Update, we discussed the creation of the Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force that was created by Executive Order 15-15.  Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti is acting as chairwoman of the task force. The May 20 meeting agenda included nine recommendations for action, including three specific to school districts. These recommendations included relief from third-party contracting, physical education and driver’s education mandates. The agenda also included a recommendation to repeal or reform prevailing wage. The task force did not have a sufficient number of members present to constitute a quorum so no action was taken. The Task Force is scheduled to meet again in June. The IEA will continue to monitor the group’s actions and recommendations.

ISBE Proration to General State Aid
In the May 15 Legislative Update, we reported that the State Board of Education spent time at their May board meeting discussing potential changes to the current policy to prorate shortfalls to GSA when the General Assembly underfunds the statutory foundation level and instead, apply a per pupil reduction. The topic was for discussion purposes only and Board Chair James Meeks stated that the board would reconsider the topic at the June 17 meeting.  It is unknown at this time what actions the board may take at that meeting, particularly because we may not have a final education budget at that time.

Vision 20/20
In March, we updated readers on Vision 20/20, an initiative of the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA). This school management effort produced several legislative initiatives for the spring legislative session in an attempt to “unite the education community and to develop a long-range blueprint for improving public education in Illinois.” The IEA was not invited to participate in this effort or in the creation of the legislation. As we reported, some of the Vision 20/20 concepts are aligned with IEA’s legislative platform and some are not. The following are the major areas addressed by the Vision 20/20 proposal, the bill numbers and status of the legislation:

Highly Effective Educators

  • HB 2657 (Winger/Bertino-Tarrant) – Passed both chambers. IEA supported.

Shared Accountability

  • SB 1506 (Bertino-Tarrant/Bradley) – Passed the Senate and then was amended to remove the underlying language and did not move.
  • HB 2683 (W. Davis/Delgado) – Passed both chambers. IEA was neutral.
  • HB 3535 (Golar) – Assigned to the House Elementary & Secondary Education Committee but was never called for a vote.

Equitable and Adequate Funding

  • SB 1403 (Barickman) – Assigned to the Executive Subcommittee on Special Issues and was never called for a hearing.
  • HB 4022 (Welch) – Remains in the House Rules Committee.
  • HB 2637 (Crespo) – Passed unanimously out of the Judiciary-Criminal Committee and was held on 2nd reading in the House.

Thank you!
Thank you for your efforts in contacting your legislators during session. We appreciate your voice in communicating the IEA position on bills and issues that affect you, your profession and your students. Your back-home meetings, phone calls, letters and emails help to deliver our message, support our lobbying efforts and influence lawmakers. We couldn’t do it without you.