The Illinois General Assembly is poised to adjourn for the summer today upon approval of a Fiscal Year 2019 State Budget. The Senate passed the budget package Wednesday night; the House of Representatives approved the bills today (Thursday). In a scenario that has not been witnessed for years in the State Capitol, a full year budget was approved on overwhelmingly bi-partisan votes. The Governor and the legislative leaders set partisan differences aside this spring and agreed on revenue estimates and a spending plan for the State.
Both the House and Senate are still currently working through some remaining bills but are expected to adjourn later today.
After receiving revenue estimates from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget and the Legislative Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability that were never too far apart, the Governor and leaders agreed on a revenue prediction of $38.5 billion. For elementary and secondary education, the appropriations bill (HB 109) increases the amount for the funding formula by $350 million. Of this, $50 million is earmarked for the Property Tax Relief Fund that was created in SB 1947, the bill enacted last year that established the evidence-based funding formula. Mandated categorical grants would be funded at the current levels and early childhood education would see an increase of $50 million. HB 109 was approved by the Senate on a vote of 56-2; the House passed the bill on a 97-18 vote.
The Budget Implementation Bill (BIMP), HB 3342, includes substantive components necessary to put the budget into place. It was approved by the Senate 54-2-2 and by the House 100-14.
Designed to make sure the budget is balanced, several “cost savings” provisions for the State are embedded in the BIMP bill. For the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), the bill would:
- reduce the amount of end of service salary increases without additional contribution of employers to 3% from 6%. Under this provision, a school district would have to pay the calculated normal retirement costs for a TRS employee for any salary increase above 3% if the salary for that year of service is to be calculated for the pension purposes of the employee.
- create an optional buyout provision for Tier I TRS employees who are no longer active participants in TRS but who have yet received any TRS pension benefits. The individual would have the option of collecting 60% of the estimated present value of the pension amount in a lump sum up front payment in exchange for forfeiting the future pension amounts and leaving the system.
- create an optional buyout provision for Tier I TRS employees of future compounded cost of living adjustments (COLA). The individual would have the option of collecting 70% of the estimated present value of future compounded COLA amounts in a lump sum up front payment in exchange for limiting future COLA payments at a non-compounding rate of 1.5%.
Also included in the BIMP, for the Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax (CPPRT), the bill extends an additional FY 2018 ONLY diversion of the funds to FY 2019 for public community college base operating grants and local health protection grants to certified local health departments. For school districts having CPPRT receipts totaling 13% or more of total district revenues during FY 17, the BIMP provides that during FY 2019 these districts will receive, in addition to the annual CPPRT distribution, 16% of the total amount distributed to the school district in 2017, with a cap not to exceed $4.3 million. If the distribution exceeds $4.3 million, the distribution shall be calculated on a pro rata basis related to all others receiving distribution.
Bill Approved to Mandate Statewide Teacher Salary Increases
The House passed SB 2892 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) which contains a burdensome, unfunded mandate that usurps a school district’s local authority and the collective bargaining system. It requires all school boards to increase the minimum rate of salary for teachers in the district phased in as follows:
- not less than $32,076 for the 2019-2020 school year
- not less than $34,576 for the 2020-2021 school year
- not less than $37,076 for the 2021-2022 school year
- not less than $40,000 for the 2022-2023 school year
Each year thereafter, the minimum teacher salary must increase from year to year by the rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
The bill will be sent to the Governor for his consideration. School board members, superintendents, business officials, and principals are encouraged to contact the Governor and urge a veto of SB 2892. Including data from individual school districts on the exact effects of this provision on their budgets make for a very strong argument.
Teacher Shortage Bill Approved
Legislation designed to ease the shortage of regular classroom teachers and substitute teachers was passed by the House of Representatives this week and will be sent to the Governor. HB 5627 (Bennett, R-Pontiac) would:
- for a two-year period, allow a retired teacher to teach in a school district for up to 120 days (currently 100 days)
- allow for the establishment of a short-term substitute teaching license for applicants who hold an associate’s degree or have completed at least 60 hours of credit from a regionally accredited institution of higher education
- allow school boards, in collaboration with the teachers’ union, to jointly develop a short-term substitute teacher training program that provides individuals with short-term substitute teaching license information on curriculum, classroom management techniques, school safety, and district building operations
- allow for licensure reciprocity for individuals holding a comparable and valid educator license or certificate from another state
Other Bills Approved This Week
SB 2428 (Stadelman, D-Rockford) allows students, regardless of ability to pay, to accumulate a minimum school lunch debt of $500 dollars. Once the $500 dollar threshold has been passed, schools would have to go through a State reimbursement and withholding process to attempt to recoup the money owed.
SB 3236 (Manar) requires that a school report card include the most current data possessed by ISBE relating to a school district's administrative costs.
SB 3466 (Lightford, D-Maywood) requires a school district to make reasonable efforts to provide ongoing professional development on the appropriate and available supportive services for the promotion of student attendance and engagement. The bill disallows a school district from referring truant students to any local public entity for the issuance of fines unless various entities have been notified and supportive services have been offered and documented. It also requires appropriate and available services be offered/provided for homeless children, students needing special education or a 504 plan.
HB 5136 (Slaughter, D-Chicago) provides that the Performance Evaluation Review Act (PERA) committee meet annually and also includes language exempting the Reduction In Force (RIF) and PERA committees from the Open Meetings Act (OMA). It also allows collective bargaining strategy sessions to be exempt from the provisions of the OMA.