Alliance Legislative Report 97-33
Distributed via Email: November 10, 2011
DONE FOR THE WEEK; SESSION EXTENDED
The Illinois General Assembly adjourned Thursday for the week, what was supposed to have been the final week of Veto Session. However, with legislative issues still pending, House Speaker Michael Madigan has scheduled the House of Representatives to return to the Capitol on November 29 for an extended Veto Session. The Senate has left open the option of returning to session before the end of the year.
Lawmakers addressed Regional Superintendent of Schools salaries (legislation passed), and gaming expansion (legislation failed), but did not resolve other significant issues like the governor’s new taxation plan and the state budget.
ROE SALARIES TO BE PAID
Legislators finally agreed on a way to pay the salaries of the Regional Superintendents of Schools for the current fiscal year. SB 2147 (Sullivan, D-Rushville), with an amendment sponsored by Representative Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley) in the House of Representatives, contains provisions to require that the salaries for regional superintendents and assistant regional assistants be paid out of Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax (CPPRT) funds – for the current fiscal year only. The bill would allow for the Regional Superintendents to receive their paychecks, retroactively, this school year, and to revisit the larger issue of the role of the Regional Offices of Education (ROE) next year.
The intent is that over the next year lawmakers will study the role of each Regional Office of Education and make changes accordingly. The bill creates the “Streamlining Illinois’ Regional Offices of Education Commission” to “explore and examine all duties of the State Board of Education and all regional offices of education and intermediate service centers”. The commission is also instructed to examine, in order to more appropriately and efficiently deliver services, the boundaries of the educational service regions in order to determine which duties and responsibilities should be provided regionally and whether the boundaries of the education service regions should be expanded to streamline the regional offices of education.
SB 2147 was approved by the House on a vote of 74-36; the Senate passed the bill 38-16-1.
An accompanying appropriations bill, SB 2458, was also approved by both chambers. The bills will be sent to the governor for action, presumably for his signature, as his office officially signed in as a supporter of the legislation in committee.
PTELL LEGISLATION DEFEATED
The House of Representatives resoundingly defeated the proposal to freeze property tax extensions. HB 3793 (Franks, D-Woodstock) would have limited taxing districts who are in counties under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) to zero revenue growth if property values are declining overall. The bill was defeated on the House floor on a vote of 34-73-5.
The Alliance worked with a coalition of other education and local government groups in opposition to the legislation. Grassroots legislative action makes a difference. Calls to legislators from school administrators and board members were instrumental in the bill’s defeat.
PENSION REFORM BILL STILL PENDING
SB 512 (Cullerton, D-Chicago) was approved by the House Personnel and Pensions Committee this week on a 5-4 vote, but it has not been called for a vote before the full House of Representatives. It would make pension changes that would affect employees who currently participate in the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS). Under the proposal, TRS-participating employees would have to select a pension plan from three options: remain in the plan with the current TRS benefits but pay a higher contribution rate; change to the “Tier II” plan and pay a lower contribution rate; or participate in a 401(k) type plan.
Some minor changes were made to the bill via amendment. First, it would set the election deadline for choosing the pension option to July 1, 2013. Secondly, the contribution rate to stay in the “Tier I” formula was still increased – but capped. Under the amended bill, in Fiscal Years 2014, 2015, and 2016, it would cost a current TRS participant 13.77% of salary as a contribution to TRS to remain in the “Tier I” formula which provides the maximum pension benefits as were in place prior to January 1, 2011. In Fiscal Year 2017 there would be a one-time adjustment in the contribution rate, based on actuarial data, which could not increase the contribution rate to more than a 15.77% of salary. The original bill left open endless opportunities for the state to increase the contribution rate with no cap. Third, the amended bill attempts to provide additional state funding for TRS.
Apparently the House bill sponsors do not believe they have lined up the necessary number of votes needed for the bill’s passage. If approved by the House, SB 512 would still need approval of the Senate before being sent to the governor.
FISCAL YEAR 2012 BUDGET
No vote was taken this week on a motion regarding Governor Pat Quinn’s Reduction Veto of the FY 2012 state budget, so his $89 million cut to student transportation is final. Legislative discussions will be continuing over the next few weeks regarding the governor’s attempt at passing a budget/tax package which could redistribute funds throughout the state budget. The Alliance will continue to push for restoring the $89 million in transportation funds for school districts.
GAMING EXPANSION BILL FAILS
Another attempt to pass a gaming expansion bill failed in the House of Representatives this week. Trying to appease the governor, House bill sponsors re-crafted a gambling bill which scaled back slightly from SB 744 which was approved by both legislative chambers in the spring but shunned by the Governor. SB 1849 (Link, D-Vernon Hills) would have still established a casino in Chicago, added four more riverboat casinos, and allowed slot machines at horse racetracks, but overall would have added fewer new gaming positions than the earlier legislation. The governor, however, worked in opposition to the bill and it came up a few votes short of passage. A new gaming law could potentially bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to the Common School Fund.
OTHER LEGISLATIVE ACTION THIS WEEK
HB 605 (Chapa La Via, D-Aurora) contains the language for the newly revamped school district report card. The bill was approved by the Senate and will be sent to the governor for consideration.
HB 3813 (Cross, R-Oswego) and HB 3815 (May, D-Highland Park) address TRS participants’ leaves of absence during which a participant is employed by a labor organization. The bills were amended and approved by the Senate and will be sent to the House for concurrence in the Senate amendments.
HB 3865 (Franks) requires an individual to be a member of TRS before the effective date of the
amendatory Act in order for specified service as an officer or employee of a statewide teacher organization or as an officer of a national teacher organization to qualify as service as a teacher under the Code. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives and is pending in the Senate.
SB 634 (Crotty, D-Oak Forest) makes changes for certain school districts in South Cook County regarding the use of the township trustees and school treasurer. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives and will be sent to the governor for consideration.
SB 965 (Cullerton) allows governmental agencies in Chicago to use automated speed enforcement (ASE) systems in designated safety zones, including school safety zones. The bill was approved by both legislative chambers and will be sent to the governor for consideration.
SB 1226 (Maloney, D-Chicago) addresses the limits in enrollment for the agricultural science school in Chicago. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives and is pending in the Senate.
SB 1865 (Sandoval, D-Chicago) is a “trailer bill” to SB 965. It provides that if a safety zone is based upon the property line of any facility, area, or land owned by a school district, an automated speed enforcement system shall be operational and violations shall be recorded only on school days and no earlier than 6:00 a.m. and no later than 8:30 p.m. if the school day is during the period of Monday through Thursday, or 9 p.m. if the school day is a Friday. Again, this applies to the City of Chicago only. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives and is pending in the Senate.
HJR 44 (Chapa La Via) addresses school district requests for mandate waivers. It disapproves the Stockton CUSD #206 driver’s education fee request; limits the Ridgewood HSD #234 request for an increase in the driver’s education fee to $300 (instead of the $500 requested); and approves the Keeneyville ESD #20 request regarding content evaluations for one year (instead of five years as requested). The resolution was adopted by both chambers.
This legislative report is 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 Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance.
Bill Text/Status: Illinois General Assembly www.ilga.gov
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