The Illinois Association of School Boards
Alliance Legislative Report 99-59
Distributed via Email: January 10, 2017
99TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY FADES AWAY
The 99 th Illinois General Assembly returned to the Capitol on Monday for a two-day “lame duck” session, with many hoping that a “grand compromise” could be put together for a full-year state budget. The current General Assembly will adjourn today (Tuesday) and the new 100 th Illinois General Assembly will be sworn in at noon on Wednesday.
The “lame duck” label comes from the fact that dozens of legislators that either didn’t run for re-election, or didn’t win their election in November, are still serving out their terms until their successors are sworn in Wednesday. Thus, there may be freer reins for them to take “tough votes” since they will not be facing voters again.
With the two-day window and the vote threshold dropping again to a simple majority for bill passage (from June 1 to December 31 bill passage for most bills requires a 3/5 supermajority), there was one last shot for this legislature to adopt a full fiscal year state budget. The legislative leaders in the Senate, President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Republican Leader Christine Radogno (Lemont) had been meeting in earnest to find a bipartisan agreement on a state budget complete with spending authority, budget cuts, and new revenue sources. They offered a package that included reform measures requested by Governor Bruce Rauner as well.
Time ran out in this brief session as the governor and House SpeakerMichael Madigan (D-Chicago) needed to be brought into the discussions, but amendments to bills were filed Monday that contain the budget compromise components. Components include: a property tax freeze, mandate relief, pension reform, workers’ compensation reform, a minimum wage increase, changes to the K-12 school funding formula, an increase in state income tax rates, a gaming expansion, and borrowing.
Though no action was taken this week, having actual amendments filed for all to see is a significant step in this process. According to the Senate leaders, new bills containing the budget components will be filed soon after the new General Assembly begins, with a plan of calling the bills for a vote early in the new legislative session.
PROVISIONS OF THE PROPOSED BUDGET PACKAGE
The budget compromise proposal is designed to “right the ship” of state fiscal policy. The comprehensive plan is a mix of new revenues, business reform measures, worker benefits, and tax structure changes. Along with the provisions listed here, other components would increase the minimum wage to $11 per hour over a number of years; make changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act; make changes to the state procurement code; and consolidate small units of local government (school districts not included).
These bill numbers will change once the reform measures are re-introduced in the new General Assembly.
PROPERTY TAX FREEZE/MANDATE RELIEF
SB 1110 ( Radogno) would establish a property tax extension limitation of zero percent for all counties in both the 2017 and the 2018 levy years – excluding levies for bonds or debt or pension funds. Counties not under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) would be prohibited from holding a referendum to determine applicability of the “freeze” for the 2017-18 levy years.
Regarding school district mandate relief, the bill would:
SB 523 (Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields) would change the current state tax structure to raise new revenues. It would:
SB 17 ( Cullerton) would make many changes to the various state pension laws. It would:
SCHOOL FUNDING REFORM
Though no bill has yet been introduced on school funding, the provisions of the plan are expected to:
SB 305 (Link, D-Vernon Hills) would expand gaming in the state. It would:
SB 284 (Trotter, D-Chicago) would grant the state borrowing authority with the proceeds earmarked for paying down the state’s massive unpaid bill backlog. The comptroller’s office estimates that the state is $10 billion behind in paying its bills. The bill would allow for the borrowing of $7 billion to help pay down that bill backlog more quickly and take the burden off of school districts, municipalities, and vendors. The new borrowing would allow the state to restructure some of its debt to increase cash flow on a more immediate basis.
OTHER LEGISLATIVE ACTION FROM THIS WEEK
LEAD TESTING MEASURE HEADS TO THE GOVERNOR
After months of negotiations, a bill to require certain schools to test drinking water for lead concentrations will now head to the desk of Governor Rauner. SB 550 ( Steans, D-Chicago) was approved by both the House of Representatives and Senate this week. Though there are new requirements in the legislation, the Alliance was successful in having several onerous provisions of the bill either deleted or amended to help school districts with costs and implementation.
Under the bill, school buildings that contain Pre-K through 5th grade students will be required to test all water fountains, any kitchen sinks used in food preparation, and certain classroom sinks for the presence of lead in drinking water. The requirements vary depending on the age of the school building. Included in the final bill were exemptions for school districts that have already tested for lead, a decrease in the number of sampling requirements, less burdensome notification procedures, and access to additional funding streams.
Members of the new 100 th General Assembly will be sworn in Wednesday at noon. The House of Representatives will hold its ceremony in Sangamon Auditorium at the University of Illinois – Springfield. The Senate will conduct the inauguration on the Senate floor in the Capitol.
Both chambers are scheduled to convene for session January 24-26. Wednesday, January 25, is the day slated for the governor’s State of the State Address.
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.
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Bill Text/Status: Illinois General Assembly www.ilga.gov
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