June 15, 2017

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Governor Bruce Rauner Thursday called for a special session of the Illinois General.  Assembly "for the purpose of considering legislation, new or pending, which addresses a balanced budget and structural reforms". He noted that this would include, but not be limited to, property tax relief, job creation, worker's compensation reform, government consolidation, education, term limits, pension reform, and spending limitations. The special session will convene next Wednesday, June 21.
Though the Governor listed no specific legislation by bill number, Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate this week held a press conference to announce the introduction of a package of bills that addressed these issues. The proposed Republican compromise would, generally, take components of the "grand bargain" budget deal pushed by Senate Democrats earlier this year and re-introduce them with adjustments. The House components of the Republican plan include:
  • Cuts to current State budget spending and future spending caps, but includes a $250 million increase for K-12 schools
  • A four-year property tax freeze with a mechanism for voters to place on the ballot a question on whether the current property tax rates should be reduced (HB 4066)
  • School funding reform which, generally, is SB 1 without the last amendments regarding Chicago Public Schools additional funding (HB 4069)
  • Pension reform which includes two bills. One consists of the "consideration model" which is in SB 16 that requires members of the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) to choose between forgoing future salary increases in the calculation of a pension or forgoing the 3% compounding cost of living adjustment (COLA) upon retirement (HB 4064). The other establishes a Tier III pension plan; an alternate 401(k) retirement plan; allows for lump sum accelerated retirement payments in lieu of the current pension annuity; and shifts the normal costs of pensions from the State to local school districts for any district employee that receives more than $140,000 per year in salary (HB 4065).
  • Government consolidation, which includes school districts, and allows for citizens to place on the ballot a referendum to "dissolve any unit of local government" (HB 4067). The School Code already has provisions for citizen driven petitions which include safeguards for children, staff and communities.
  • Workers' Compensation Act reform (HB 4068)
  • Calls for a constitutional amendment for legislative term limits
Senate Republicans this week introduced budget companion bills SB 2214-2218.

School board members and administrators should call their legislators before next Wednesday and let them know what the proposed property tax freeze would mean to their districts.
This legislative report was written and edited by the lobbyists of the Illinois Association of School Boards to provide information to the members of the organizations that comprise the Statewide School Management Alliance.