Friday, February 15, 2019

Alliance Legislative Report 101-04

MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE
PASSES HOUSE

In an unusual flurry of activity for early February, the House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 1 (Lightford, D-Maywood) which increases the minimum wage across the State of Illinois to $15 dollars per hour by 2025. For more information on SB 1, click here. Governor JB Pritzker made it clear during his campaign that raising the minimum wage is a top priority. The Governor was on the House floor as members voted 69-47-1 to send the bill to his desk. SB 1 is expected to be signed into law before the Governor gives his budget speech next week.

GOVERNOR TO DELIVER BUDGET ADDRESS
As required in the Illinois Constitution, the Governor of the State of Illinois must present a budget that details the financial outlook for Illinois. The Governor's Budget Address is scheduled for February 20, at noon. Unfortunately, as it has been in many recent years, the financial outlook at this point is negative. By most reports, the Governor is expected to describe a state looking at a $3 billion deficit with an additional backlog of bills that is nearly $15 billion. It is expected that Governor Pritzker will suggest ways for the General Assembly to change laws to increase revenues. Many of those changes could revolve around taxing items that are currently untaxed or "under" taxed, and taxing items that are currently illicit in Illinois such as sports gambling and recreational marijuana.

One of the biggest policy issues Governor Pritzker campaigned on was the need for Illinois to adopt a graduated income tax. However, the Illinois Constitution states that the income tax must be at a "non-graduated rate". Even if the Constitution is successfully amended, and a graduated income tax becomes law, additional revenues from a graduated income tax would not be realized in Fiscal Year 2020. The groundwork is being laid to move Illinois in that direction for the future.

Another clear message from the Governor's office in the lead up to the budget address is that they will present a transparent budget that will not rely on revenues that have been unrealized in the past. One of the main tactics used by previous administrations to present what appeared to be a balanced budget, was the sale of the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. While the sale of the Thompson Center is still a desire of Governor Pritzker, he said he would not count the projected sale towards overall revenues.

In the education transition report release by the Governor's office earlier this month, a clear emphasis was made on equitable and adequate funding. The report calls for Illinois to "aggressively" fund K-12 education with a goal of full funding by 2027. It is expected that during the Budget Address, Governor Pritzker will highlight those same issues and push for additional funding to go into the Evidence-Based Funding Model. You can watch the budget address at www.ilga.gov. After the speech, Alliance lobbyists will be reacting to the speech and taking questions on www.facebook.com/ilprincipals/.

Click here to read the complete Alliance Legislative Report (101-04), including other bill action from the past week and bills scheduled for committee next week.


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Schools observe one-year anniversary
of Parkland tragedy

February 14, 2019 marks one year since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.  Events designed to remember the victims are planned throughout the country, including memorials, moments of silence, and other peaceful demonstrations.

IASB recommends that districts consult with their board attorneys when planning appropriate responses to such tragic events.

Listed below are a few additional resources, all developed by NSBA’s Legal Advocacy Department, school leaders may wish to examine in regard to the related school safety concerns, preparations for possible memorials, and considerations about the regulation of student and employee speech.



Note: This Blog post is solely for information purposes, not legal advice; IASB recommends that school boards consult their board attorneys on this topic.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Calendar deadlines and legal dates ahead

A quick look at IASB’s Annual School Calendar of legal dates and deadlines shows several important dates just ahead, most of them related to the April 2 school board election.

One not related to the election is the upcoming Annual Conference of the National School Boards Association, set for March 30 through April 1 in Philadelphia. Click here to view the latest NSBA Conference information and the 2019 registration form.

Key dates related to the school board election include the deadline for the board secretary to transmit election results received from election officials to the school board (April 23), last day for the school board to reorganize by seating new members, electing officers, and setting a time and place for regular meetings (April 30), and the last day for board candidates to file a required Statement of Economic Interests with the county clerk (May 1).

IASB offers more election information and candidate guidance on its public website.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Four counties set to vote
on sales tax for schools

Four counties in Illinois will be voting on countywide sales tax questions to benefit school facilities in the April 2 general election. A total of 54 counties in the state already have adopted a countywide sales tax benefitting school facilities. Set to decide on such proposals for schools are voters in the counties of Effingham, Fayette, Tazewell, and Union.



The sales tax referendum, when adopted, imposes up to a 1 percent sales tax on everything the county taxes, but does not impose any tax on goods or services that are not already subject to sales taxes.

Goods and services that are not subject to the additional tax include cars, trucks, ATVs, boats and RVs; mobile homes, unprepared food, drugs, farm equipment and parts.

For many school districts, the funding provided by the county school sales tax for school facilities may be the best way to raise funds for school construction, repair, and maintenance.

Such a referendum qualifies for the ballot when school boards representing more than 50 percent of the resident student enrollment in the county adopt a resolution to certify the question. But timing is important because it takes about a year for districts to receive any funds as the state revenue department only changes the tax rates for counties twice a year, on January 1 and July 1.

It takes about four months after the county tax goes into effect for funds to be distributed from the state through the regional office of education to local schools. A simple majority of votes cast in the county is needed to approve the referendum.

Results of the April referendum will be reported in this blog.

Alliance Legislative Report 101-03

EVENTFUL WEEK
IN LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Significant legislation was moved on the fast track this week in the state Capitol. The Illinois Senate approved legislation to increase the minimum wage and sent the bill over to the House of Representatives. A Senate committee approved a mandatory statewide increase in the minimum teacher salary and sent the bill to the full Senate for consideration. The bill pending in the Senate to reinstate the five clock-hour provision for school funding remained unchanged this week, though discussions were ongoing about possible revisions.

The Alliance opposes each of these three initiatives. For many school districts, the combination of statutory increases in the minimum wage for all workers and the minimum teacher salary will create a new fiscal constraint that will consume large percentages of any financial gain the district would have realized from the new Evidence-Based Funding Formula – and move them even farther away from their adequacy targets. Instead of being allowed to use this new funding on its intended purpose – lower class sizes, summer school, reading specialists, and other proven resources that increase student achievement – school districts will be required to increase current teacher salaries instead. The actual result could be cuts in services and programs to schools and larger class sizes.

Click here to read more about these initiatives and the complete Alliance Legislative Report 101-03.