February 16, 2018

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The Illinois General Assembly took a brief timeout to listen to the Governor's budget plans this week, then went back to considering new legislation in committees. After Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his Budget Address Wednesday, lawmakers took to their partisan corners and opined about the fiscal message. Democrat leaders quickly denounced the budget plan as unbalanced, unfair to school districts and State workers, and generally unworkable. Republicans mostly lauded the calls for a leaner budget, income tax rate reductions, and pension reform. However, even some Republican legislators joined the vast majority of Democrats in casting a wary eye at the idea of shifting the State's pension obligation onto local school districts.
The Senate returns to the Capitol next Tuesday; the House of Representatives will not reconvene until February 27 th.
As reported in the last Alliance Legislative Report, the Governor proposed to shift the normal costs of active teacher pensions from the State and onto local school district budgets over a four year period. The first year cost of the new unfunded mandate on local school districts is estimated at $490 million. This would certainly eat up most, if not all, of any increase school districts would get through the new funding formula. A press statement on the cost shift can be found here. There is also a blog article on the matter.
For Fiscal Year 2019, the Governor proposed an increase of $350 million for the new Evidence-Based Funding Formula - an amount equal to the increase in the current fiscal year. Also in his plan is a $10.5 million increase for Early Childhood Education, and a $2.4 million decrease in the line item for student assessments. With the exception of the special education orphanage tuition budget line, he would fund the mandated categorical grants at the same levels as the current fiscal year, including transportation reimbursements. Funding for the budget line items for After School Programs, Advance Placement, After School Matters, District Intervention, Parent Mentoring, National Board Certified Teachers, School Support Services (Lowest Performing Schools), and Teach for America would be eliminated, allowing $28.9 million to be redirected toward the other education budget items.
HB 4193 (Parkhurst, R-Kankakee), for special education impartial due process hearings, changes when the hearing officer must issue his or her written decision from within 10 days to within 10 business days after the hearing. Initially opposed by the Alliance, the bill will be amended to address Alliance concerns. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education: Curriculum and Policies Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.
HB 4208 (Welch, D-Westchester), opposed by the Alliance,requires certain school districts to develop a school discipline improvement plan and establishes the Safe Schools and Healthy Learning Environments Program. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education:  Curriculum and Policies Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.
HB 4237 (Carroll, D-Buffalo Grove), as amended, establishes the Illinois Excellence Fund in the State treasury which can accept contribution funds for exclusively public educational purposes including, early childhood, elementary and secondary, higher education, adult education and teachers' employment benefits. It allows the public to make monetary contributions to the fund and receive certification for a 100% income tax credit for the donation.  The bill was approved by the House Revenue and Finance Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.
Tuesday, February 20, 1:00 p.m., Room 212, State Capitol
SB 2468 (Koehler, D-Peoria) provides that if a child's individualized education program (IEP) team determines that the child does not require assistive technology services or devices, the team shall include a statement in the child's program that informs the child's parent or guardian of the decision and the basis for the decision.
SB 2527 (Weaver, R-Peoria) prohibits a school board from limiting the number of dual credit courses a student may enroll in or the number of credits a student may receive from dual credit courses. 
SB 2542 (Lightford, D-Westchester)  provides that a "school psychologist" means a person who holds a valid Nationally Certified School Psychologist credential (rather than certificate).
SB 2648 (Bennett, D-Champaign) p rovides that the Agriculture Education Shortage Task Force shall report its findings to the Governor and General Assembly on or before January 1, 2021.
Tuesday, February 20, 1:00 p.m., Room 400, State Capitol
SB 2541 (Lightford) requires the Department of Public Health to develop rules and appropriate revisions to the Child Health Examination form to address School Code requirements regarding social and emotional screening of students.
Tuesday, February 20, 4:00 p.m., Room 212, State Capitol
SB 2482 (Morrison, D-Deerfield) allows school bus transportation of children 18 years and younger for activities outside of school or connected with a community-based rehabilitation facility.