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GOVERNMENT RELATIONS


Alliance Legislative Report 98-19

Distributed via Email: May 31, 2013

LEGISLATURE CLOSE TO WRAPPING UP

The Illinois General Assembly is set to close the 2013 spring legislative session. Though a few loose ends are left, many of the issues seem to have been settled. A State Fiscal Year 2014 budget was approved and sent to Governor Pat Quinn. It, generally, spared elementary and secondary education from further cuts and held spending levels to the FY 2013 amounts. Governor Quinn will have an opportunity to adjust spending levels through the veto process.

Of course, some undesirable legislation did work its way through the legislature. But thanks to the involvement and participation of school board members, superintendents, principals, and business officials, many of the more detrimental proposals were held at bay this spring. Phone calls, e-mails, and letters to legislators by school management representatives were instrumental in slowing down proposals to shift the pension costs onto local school districts, to allow for the removal of school board members based on vague standards, to restrict school district access to local property taxes, and to mandate several new programs in public schools.

While most of the budget pieces have been approved, many of the issues which have received the most attention this spring are still pending a final vote. Votes on a concealed carry of firearms bill and gay marriage seem likely today, but final votes on pension reform and expanded gaming may still be elusive. It is expected that the General Assembly will adjourn late tonight to close the spring session.

FISCAL YEAR 2014 STATE BUDGET

Legislators rejected the Governor’s proposal to cut K-12 education by an additional $300 million below current year funding levels. K-12 funding for Fiscal Year 2014 will be held flat – funded at current levels (FY 2013). General State Aid will be prorated at 89%, mandated categorical grants, including regular transportation, will be funded at the same levels as FY ‘13 as well. The effective foundation level is estimated to be $5,720 per pupil. The elementary and secondary education appropriations are contained in SB 2555 ( Cullerton, D-Chicago).

If the Governor’s proposed cuts were included, the GSA proration would have fallen to 82% and the regular transportation reimbursement would have been decimated.

Some other adjustments to budget line items for the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) include:

  • ISBE Learning Standards and Assessments Materials cut $2 million
  • Arts and Foreign Language cut $500,000
  • Advanced Placement cut $27,000
  • ISBE State Tech Support cut $500,000
  • Teach for America cut $225,000
  • Alternative Schools cut $239,000
  • Truant Alternative and Optional Education cut $500,000
  • Driver’s Education cut $2.5 million
  • After School Matters cut $500,000

The Budget Implementation Bill (BIMP) contains provisions to continue to pay the salaries of Regional Superintendents of Schools out of Corporate Personnel Property Replacement Tax (CPPRT) funds. In fact, it removes any expiration dates on the provision so that this is a permanent adjustment. The bill also allows CPPRT funds to be spent for stipends, salary, and additional compensation for chief election clerks, county clerks, and county recorders.

FOR NOW: PENSION REFORM STALLS; COST SHIFT DELAYED

The Senate defeated the House pension reform bill, SB 1 ( Cullerton), on a vote of 16-42 Thursday night. The bill would have made pension benefit changes (salary cap, COLA adjustment, increase in retirement age) with no participant or annuitant input. A complete summary of the bill can be found here. The Senate pension reform version,SB 2404 ( Cullerton), is a union-backed proposal that requires participants and annuitants to “elect” to alter pension benefits or make concessions to keep current benefits. SB 2404 is pending in the House of Representatives and has yet to be called for a vote. A summary of these pension choices can be found here.

At this time it seems that no bill will be approved by both the House and Senate and the pension reform movement may be stalled again – similar to the end of session last year. If that happens summer sessions are likely in a quest to break the pension gridlock. Then again, there are still nine hours left in this session . . . . . . .

House Speaker Michael Madigan(D-Chicago) pushed through a bill in his chamber to shift the pension costs from the State onto community colleges and State universities, but discussions will continue before any such shift is placed on local school districts. The institutions of higher education will be contributing an additional ½% of their payrolls each year until all “normal costs” of their employees’ retirement programs are assumed by the institution. This total cost could be as high as 11% of their payrolls. “Normal costs” are defined as those necessary to cover the cost of retirement benefits for current employees; it does not include the “legacy” costs that occur because of the past liability that has built up because the State did not make the proper pension payments over the years.

The Senate has yet to approve the higher education cost shift, SB 1687 ( Biss, D-Evanston), but it is expected to receive a vote by the full Senate before the day is over.

House leadership pushed for a similar cost shift plan for elementary and secondary school districts, but when no compromise could be reached the plan is seemingly being put off until later in the year. Summer discussions will likely occur here as well if nothing happens in the next few hours. The Alliance opposed the cost shift proposal but did participate in many discussions with top House leadership on the issue.

The current “normal cost” of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) is estimated to be just over 6% of a school district’s TRS payroll. Assuming that a similar annual ½% ramp would be used if costs were shifted onto local K-12 school districts, the normal costs would be assumed in about 12 years. If legislation is approved that would reform current pension benefits, the “normal costs” would decrease depending on what type of savings would occur from the pension benefit adjustments.

SCHOOL BOARD REMOVAL BILL STALLS

The bill that would have allowed the Illinois State Board of Education to remove school board members was held in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was never called for a vote. Though the Alliance was able to make many revisions to the legislation in the Senate (go here for details), there were still concerns expressed by the House sponsor and committee members. Further amendments were filed in the House that would have:

  1. limited the number of districts that must go through the accreditation process to five
  2. included Chicago Public Schools under the scope of the legislation; and
  3. prohibited school districts operating under the Independent Authority to approved Charter Schools

The House sponsor and the ISBE did not iron out their differences before session end.

HOT BILL ACTION

SB 1307 ( Lightford, D-Maywood) , beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, lowers the compulsory school age from 7 years to 6 years (on or before September 1). The Senate concurred in the House amendment and the bill will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

SB 1625 (Collins, D-Chicago) requires school districts to hold at least one drill per year in each school that specifically addresses a shooting incident. Local law enforcement must be invited to participate in the drill. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives and will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

HB 1225 (Burke, D., D-Chicago) r equires the Illinois High School Association to post a training video on cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillators on the its website, but only if it is provided to the association free of charge and is no more than 15 minutes in length. It also requires school districts to notify parents and staff in newsletters, bulletins, calendars, or other correspondence currently published by the school district of the posted video and encourage parents and staff to view it. The House concurred in the Senate amendmentand the bill will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

HB 1443 ( Moylan, D-Des Plaines)  states that if employees of a school district whose duties including reporting crime fails to report acts of hazing, the employee himself/herself can be charged with the crime of hazing. The House concurred in the Senate amendment and the bill will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.  

HB 2213 (Ford, D-Chicago) would require school districts to adopt burdensome new policies and grant special rights to certain students who are parents or expectant parents. The bill was defeated in the Senate Education Committee.

HB 2418 (Currie, D-Chicago) includes numerous election law changes including a provision that will require school board candidates to file nominating petitions with the County Clerk instead of their local school district. In addition the bill provides that objections to school board member petitions would be heard and acted upon by the county officers’ electoral board that is made up of the county clerk, the State’s attorney, and the clerk of the circuit court. In counties where there is a county board of election commissioners this body would hear and act upon the objections. The House concurred in the Senate amendment and the bill will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

HB 2869 (Harris, G., D-Chicago) authorizes the State of Illinois to issue an additional $2.2 billion in General Obligation Bonds and an additional $542 million in Build Illinois Bonds for several capital projects including $1.6 billion for the Illinois School Construction program. The House concurred in the Senate amendment and the bill will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

OTHER BILL ACTION FROM THIS WEEK

SB 1221 ( Martinez, D-Chicago) establishes a voluntary program creating a State Seal of Biliteracy program to recognize public high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in one or more languages in addition to English. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives and will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

SB 1550 ( Radogno, R-Lemont) amends the Children with Disabilities Article of the School Code with respect to transition services. It provides that the first individualized education plan for a student turning age 14 1/2 must include measurable post-secondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments and other information including independent living skills (instead of independent living skills where appropriate). The bill was approved by the House of Representatives and will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

SB 1931 ( Bivins, R-Dixon) creates the School Security and Standards Task Force to study the security of schools. The Senate concurred in the House amendment and the bill will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

SB 2199 ( Frerichs, D-Champaign) removes a provision that prohibits a candidate for licensure from beginning an internship or residency required for licensure until he or she has passed the applicable content area test. The Senate concurred in the House amendment and the bill will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

HB 129 (Welch, D-Westchester) p ermits a school board to designate the first Monday in October of each year "Bring Your Parents to School Day" when parents are allowed to attend class with their children and meet with teachers and administrators during the school day. The bill was approved by the Senate and will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

HB 490 (Davis, M., D-Chicago) requires applicants seeking a Professional Educator License or an Educator License with Stipulations to pass a basic skills test, if required, before the license is issued (instead of before they may be admitted to an education preparation program). The House concurred in the Senate amendment and the bill will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

HB 922 (Hurley, D-Chicago), as amended, increases record keeping requirements for contractors and subcontractors performing Prevailing Wage work. The House concurred in the Senate amendment and the bill will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

HB 946 ( Yingling, D- Hainesville) creates the Young Adults Heroin Use Task Force to address the growing problem of heroin use in high schools across this State. The House concurred in the Senateamendmentand the bill will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

HB 983 ( McSweeney, R-Cary) would require 45 days instead of 30 days for petitions to be filed causing a backdoor referendum to approve use of alternate bonds. The bill also lowers the petition signature requirement. Finally the legislation would require an entity not involved in the project to report on the sufficiency of revenues for the project. The House concurred in the Senate amendment and the bill will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

HB 2947 (Drury, D-Highwood) regarding the State budget, makes certain requirements that indicate whether there is a projected budget surplus or deficit for general funds in the current fiscal year and whether it would be balanced. It also requires that the budget reflect actual figures available on the date the budget is submitted. The House concurred in the Senate amendment and the bill will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

HB 3112 ( McAsey, D- Lockport) provides that any charter school located in a school district that contains all or part of a federal military base may set aside up to 33% of its current charter enrollment to students with parents assigned to the federal military base, with the remaining 67% subject to the general enrollment and lottery requirements. The House concurred in the Senate amendmentand the bill will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

HB 3125 ( Mautino, D-Spring Valley) exempts school districts from the requirement that certain employers must post job openings on the IllinoisJobLink.com site, but encourages school districts to do so. It also adds penalties (Class 3 or 4 Felony) for the willful filing of fraudulent quarterly wage reports regarding the Department of Employment Security. The House concurred in the Senate amendmentand the bill will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

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 Statewide School Management Alliance.

Bill Text/Status: Illinois General Assembly www.ilga.gov


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