The Illinois General Assembly watched the May 31 session adjournment deadline come and
go--again--without taking any action on a State budget. It was evident in mid-afternoon
Wednesday that there would be no budget votes. However, both the House of Representatives and the Senate continued to work for hours moving a plethora of bills that were pending on their respective calendars.
Illinois will be moving into the third consecutive year without a full State budget in place if no accord is reached by the end of June. Both chambers announced that they would be in "continuous session" in June. If last year was any indication, though, it will be more sporadic than continuous. The House plans to hold budget hearings beginning next week. There has been no word yet whether the Governor and the legislative leaders have plans to meet.
The Senate earlier this month approved a spending package and new revenue sources for FY '18. However, the House never took up the measures and did not offer any budget alternatives of its own. The Governor stood by his position that he would not entertain the idea of tax increases without some business reforms and a permanent property tax freeze. The Senate did approve a two-year property tax freeze but, again, the House did not take up the measure. A Workers' Compensation Act reform bill was approved by both chambers and will be sent to the Governor.
A full year K-12 education budget was approved last year so public schools have funding through the end of June. Beginning July 1, if there is no action taken, there would be no budget or appropriations for K-12 schools or for anything else in State government. The Alliance will be making information available soon about the considerations school districts will have to contemplate in the absence of a budget
SCHOOL FUNDING FORMULA BILL GOES TO GOVERNOR
Wednesday evening both the House and Senate approved SB 1, the bill that would replace the current school funding formula with an evidence-based model of school funding distribution. A key component of one of the pillars of the Vision 20/20 education plan unveiled by the Alliance organizations and others, the initiative was the result of years of work by legislators, school administrators, and school reform advocates. Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) shepherded the bill through the Senate while Representative Will Davis (D-Hazel Crest) took the lead in the House of Representatives.
The bill was approved in the House by the bare minimum number of votes needed--60. The measure fared better in the Senate as it garnered 35 votes--30 votes were required for passage. It is unclear at this point what action the Governor may take once it reaches his desk.
The model uses a unique formula for each district based on the demographics and characteristics of the district enrollment. The criteria used is based on years of evidence of best practices in student achievement and, in some cases, statewide averages. The formula, then, will drive State funding dollars to those school districts in the most need based on their financial situation.
The new funding formula will be a much needed improvement as it places a premium on equity and adequacy of school funding. But, as with any distribution formula, the ultimate effectiveness will be dependent on the formula being properly funded. That makes it imperative that a comprehensive, balanced State budget be approved by
KEY LEGISLATION AS PART OF BUDGET DISCUSSIONS
In the final days of the legislative session, several significant bills were considered with varied degrees of success. Here are a few of those:
SB 6 (Steans, D-Chicago) contained appropriations for a comprehensive FY 2018 State budget, including a $286 million increase for the school funding formula. The bill was approved by the Senate but not considered in the House.
SB 9 (Hutchison, D-Olympia Fields) would increase the individual income tax rate from 3.75% to 4.95% and the corporate income tax rate from 4.8% to 7% beginning January 1, 2017. It would also broaden the state sales tax to cover certain services, close certain corporate tax credits and exemptions, and means test Illinois taxpayer's eligibility for the standard deduction and the property tax credit. The bill was approved by the Senate but not considered in the House.
SB 81 (Lightford, D-Maywood) would increase the State minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022. The bill was approved by both chambers and will be sent to the Governor for consideration.
SB 484 (Cullerton, J., D-Chicago) would freeze property tax extensions for school districts for two years. The bill was approved by the Senate but not considered in the House.
HB 2525 (Hoffman, D-Collinsville) contains provisions to reform the Workers' Compensation Act. The bill was approved by both chambers and will be sent to the Governor.
OTHER LEGISLATIVE ACTION
The following bills were approved by the legislature and will be sent to the Governor for consideration:
HB 106 (Batnick, R- Plainfield) provides that the holder of a master's degree in public administration who completes an additional six semester hours of internship in school business management from a regionally accredited institution of higher education and passes applicable State tests is eligible for a chief school business official endorsement.
HB 261 (Mussman, D-Schaumburg) allows school districts to use transportation funds, in certain circumstances, to assist parents of a child at risk of homelessness with rent, mortgage, and assistance to pay unpaid bills.
HB 656 (Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria) changes the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) federal funds rate from the unfunded liability rate to the normal cost rate for school staff paid with federal program dollars.
HB 768 (Welch, D-Westchester) removes provisions allowing the State Charter School Commission to reverse a school board's decision to deny, revoke, or not renew a charter.
HB 826 (Lilly, D-Chicago) codifies in statute licensure requirements for school social workers and prohibits school social workers from providing services outside their employment to any student in the district. It makes a recommendation for a student to social worker ratio of 250 to 1.
HB 2461 (McAsey, D-Lockport) adds new requirements to be included on the school report card regarding gifted education and advanced academic programs.
HB 2612 (Pritchard, R-Hinckley) provides greater flexibility and efficiency in the detachment and
dissolution of school districts, including creation of a local hearing panel and a process for petitioning for
HB 2618 (Gabel, D-Evanston), for parties who agree not to use mediation during a challenge in a special education hearing process, gives the parent 10 days after a party declines to use mediation to file a request for a due process hearing to allow the student to remain in their current placement.
HB 2898 (Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates) r
emoves the date (of June 30, 2021) until which a principal endorsement may be affixed to the Professional Educator License of a person who has, among other qualifications, at least four total years of experience working in the capacity of school support personnel.
HB 3044 (Hoffman) requires the Department of Labor (DOL) to publish on their website the prevailing wage schedule for each county based upon the rate of wages in June, by August 15 of each year.
HB 3293 (Scherer, D-Decatur) requires the recipient of a school bus to paint it a different color and remove the insignia, stop arms, and flashing signal system.
HB 3298 (Scherer) allows, under certain circumstances, the application fee for a substitute teacher license to be refunded.
HB 3394 (Walsh, D-Joliet) allows the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to recommend removal of a school employee that is subject of an investigation, pending the outcome, but allows all employment decisions to be the sole responsibility of the school district or employer. It prohibits DCFS from requiring a district to remove the employee or limit their duties pending the outcome of an investigation.
HB 3507 (Greenwood, D-E. St. Louis) allows a student to be granted up to 5 days of excused absence if his/her parent is active duty military and has been called to duty for, on leave from, or has immediately returned from deployment.
HB 3820 (Crespo) allows individuals with a valid Career and Technical Education (CTE) endorsement, but that do not hold a bachelor's degree, to substitute teach in CTE classes.
HB 3903 (Stratton, D-Chicago)
prohibits student booking stations on school grounds. The bill allows a place operated by law enforcement to perform their duties within schools and use of temporary detention spaces under certain circumstances.
SB 764 (Morrison, D-Deerfield) permits DCFS, in cooperation with school officials, to distribute appropriate materials in school buildings listing the toll-free telephone number established in the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act to be displayed in a clearly visible location in each school building.
SB 865 (Manar) requires a school district report card to include the total and per pupil normal cost amount the State contributed to TRS in the prior fiscal year for the district's employees.
SB 1223 (Lightford) requires each school district to have a policy, which includes a panel of decision-makers including the student's parents, that allows for accelerated placement including reporting of certain data to the ISBE.
SB 1692 (Raoul, D-Chicago) expands who can be on the concussion oversight team and evaluate a student who has been removed from practice or competition.
SB 1796 (Hastings, D-Frankfort) creates the Students Online Personal Protection Act containing provisions to safeguard student data.