Wednesday, July 19, 2017

New Board Member Workshops conclude

Training sessions concluded on July 7-8 with a workshop in
Naperville, and anotheer at the Hilton Garden Inn, Springfield.
IASB’s New Board Member Workshops recently concluded over a series of four weekends in June
and July for school board members elected in April. Workshop participants completed their mandatory board training on Friday, and gained vital information to understand and fulfill their governance role on Saturday.

Workshops kicked off on the weekend of June 2-3, and ended July 7-8, at nine locations throughout Illinois. A total of 644 people attended training sessions held in DeKalb, Effingham, Peoria, Glenview, Marion, Collinsville, Tinley Park, Springfield, and Naperville.

“The partnership with school attorneys and business officials across the state, in addition to our own expertise in school board governance, allows IASB to be the premier provider for school board member training. With IASB, school board members receive all the mandated topics as well as the important governance training needed for success,” stated Dean Langdon, Associate Executive Director for Board Development.

Experienced school board attorneys presented on state-mandated topics.
IASB’s new board member training combines mandatory and elective courses in a Friday-Saturday schedule. Friday’s training included presentations from a variety of experienced school board attorneys on the state’s mandated training for Professional Development Leadership Training (PDLT) and Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA). In addition, IASB staff also presented a session on the mandatory Open Meetings Act (OMA) training. Board members who attended these sessions received certificates that they can present to their board secretaries to show their compliance with the state law.

Basics of Governance was covered on Saturday.
Friday’s workshop also included a session with experienced school business officials in an overview
of school finance. Many board members also stayed for Saturday’s elective course, the Basics of Governance, an overview of school board governance and the first course in IASB’s LeaderShop Academy program. IASB staff explained the roles and responsibilities of school board members, and how they can become part of a high-performing board/superintendent team.

The next opportunity for Professional Development Leadership Training (PDLT/PERA) or the Basics of Governance will be in a Pre-Conference workshop at the Joint Annual Conference, scheduled for Nov. 17-19 in Chicago.

Board members can also complete the requirements by taking the PDLT, PERA, or OMA courses at IASB’s Online Learning Center. More information about all of IASB’s professional development opportunities is available online.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Round Lake school district
requests flood assistance

Round Lake CUSD 116 is seeking assistance due to flooding from recent storms in northern Illinois. This area of Lake County received over seven inches of rain last week.

Two schools, Murphy Elementary School and Ellis Elementary School, have been affected by flooding. Murphy’s school library was destroyed in the flood. School officials will determine at a later date if the buildings can be opened for students.

The Round Lake Area Schools Education Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization accepting monetary donations on behalf of the District. Funds donated will be applied directly to flood recovery efforts within the district. Donations can be made online or can be mailed to P.O. Box 1881 Round Lake, IL 60073.

The district is also accepting donations of books at the district administrative office, 884 W. Nippersink Rd., Round Lake, IL 60073.

For district information and updates on the situation, click here to visit the news page on the Round Lake CUSD 116 website. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

NSBA Summer Leadership Seminar returns to Chicago

The 2017 NSBA Summer Leadership Seminar for IASB officers and executives and other state’s school board association leaders will be held Aug. 17-20 in Chicago.

The program will kick off with a day-long “Strategic Governance Symposium” designed to focus on association management issues from a team perspective. Other highlights include: opportunities for regional and peer-to-peer networking, a look at trends in state legislation, as well as an exploration of collaboration, shared vision, innovation, and leadership development, with examples of each.

Attending from IASB will be: Executive Director Roger Eddy, and Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm, as well as Association officers, including: President Phil Pritzker, Vice President Joanne Osmond, Immediate Past President Karen Fisher, and Treasurer Tom Neeley.

“The great value of this seminar is that it provides sessions and exercises to assist participants in understanding their role as change agents, and motivators,” said IASB’s top executive, Roger Eddy.

This is the third time that the seminar has been held in Chicago. The agenda for this year’s event includes a session on sharing state association perspectives on recent legislation, together with strategies to counter or partner in new laws in the interest of member school districts.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Service Associates membership expands

IASB’s Service Associates has added five firms to its membership ranks in 2017.

IASB Service Associates are businesses that offer school-related products and services and which have earned favorable reputations for quality and integrity. Only after screening by the Service Associates executive committee is a business firm invited by the IASB Board of Directors to become a Service Associate.

The firms that have joined IASB in 2017 include the following:

  • Edmentum, Bloomington, Minnesota; web-based learning solutions
  • F.H. Paschen, Chicago; general contractor
  • The Concord Group, Chicago; construction management
  • The Garland Company, Cleveland, Ohio; commercial roofing
  • Sonitrol Great Lakes, Northbrook; integrated security solutions

IASB currently has 72 Service Associates members. A complete database listing of these members can be found here.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Stay on Top of the Headlines with Leading News

To help readers stay informed, IASB offers news headlines, featuring daily news about issues of importance to school board members.

Leading News, a collection of public education-related headlines from across the state and nation, helps readers understand what the media is covering, and allows school board members to stay on top of the issues they face, or may face, in their leadership roles.

Leading News is updated most weekdays, and some weekends, throughout the year. IASB members and the public can access this resource by clicking on the Leading News icon above or in the right column of the News Blog. An archive of Leading News is available there as well.

Friday, July 7, 2017

New Board Member Workshops continue this weekend

IASB’s New Board Member Workshops continue in Springfield and Naperville on Friday and Saturday, July 7 and 8.

New Board Member Workshops are designed to meet the needs of school board members elected in 2017. Participants will be able to complete their mandatory board training on Friday. The Saturday sessions will provide board members with essential information to understand and fulfill their governance role.

Click here for additional information regarding New Board Member Workshops.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-32

OVERRIDES SUCCESSFUL – BUDGET IN PLACE

The Illinois House of Representatives approved motions to override the governor’s vetoes on the three budget bills passed earlier this week. The motion to override SB 9, the bill that would increase income tax rates, passed on a vote of 71-42. The override motion on SB 42, the budget implementation bill (BIMP), passed on a vote of 71-41. The final motion, to override SB 6, the appropriations bill, was successful on a vote of 74-37. 71 votes are necessary to override a veto in the House. The bills become effective immediately.

This will be the first time the state has operated under a full budget in over two years. But, obviously, in the end, it was not an agreement or bipartisan compromise between the governor and legislative leaders. The governor worked hard to convince legislators, specifically Republican House members, to vote against the veto overrides. Ultimately, 10 House Republicans voted for the override motions.

The House adjourned until the call of the Speaker; the Senate adjourned Tuesday until the call of the President. Lawmakers will likely be back in the Capitol before summer is over to discuss the other outlying issues that have been under discussion.

SB 9 will increase the individual income tax rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent and the corporate rate from 5.25 percent to 7 percent. It is expected to generate more than $5 billion in revenue to the state.

SB 6 appropriates $350 million for a new, evidence-based funding formula for K-12 education, includes $65 million for regular transportation reimbursements to school districts which will set the proration level to over 80 percent, and increases Early Childhood Education funding by $50 million and Bilingual Education funding by $29 million. The other mandated categorical grant line items will be funded at least at Fiscal Year 2017 levels.

SB 42 contains the substantive language necessary to implement the budget items. The BIMP bill also includes pension language that would affect school districts. It authorizes state retirement systems, including the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), to offer a Tier III defined contribution plan. In such a plan, the employee would contribute 6.2 percent of his/her creditable earnings while the employer would contribute 2 percent. SB 42 also would shift the normal pension costs from the state to the local school district for the amount of salary for any employee whose creditable earnings are higher than the salary of the governor ($180,000).

U.S. Department of Education
seeks mandate relief input

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) is seeking opinions from members of the public regarding what federal regulations they would like to see changed or eliminated. The request was published in the Federal Register on June 22. It states that the administration is "particularly interested in regulatory provisions that you find unduly costly or unnecessarily burdensome." These include, but are not limited to, programs under the DOE Offices of Elementary and Secondary Education, English Language Acquisition, Special Education Programs, and Career, Technical, and Adult Education; as well as the DOE’s General Administrative Regulations.

The Illinois Association of School Boards plans to compile a list and submit it to the DOE. To contribute your opinions on any mandates, as described above, which you would like changed or repealed, please send them to Susan Hilton at shilton@iasb.com by August 1.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Still work to be done to finalize state budget

IASB Deputy Director Ben Schwarm
IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm details the final steps needed to enact a state budget for Illinois schools.

The Illinois legislature worked through most of the weekend and the Fourth of July holiday in a bid to bring closure to a state budget. Through flurries of frenetic activity and periods of inactivity, budget bills were approved and sent to the governor. However, there are still several steps to take before a Fiscal Year 2018 budget will be in place for schools and all of state government.

A package of three bills were approved by both chambers: SB 6 containing appropriations for a full FY 2018 budget; SB 9 containing increases in the individual and corporate income tax rates; and SB 42, the Budget Implementation Bill (BIMP). The bills were sent to the governor Tuesday, and he immediately vetoed all three and sent them back to the Senate. The Senate, also on Tuesday, voted to override each of the vetoes and sent the bills over to the House of Representatives.

The House has yet to take up the override motions, but that action is expected to happen on Thursday. SB 9 passed the House by a very slim margin and it will require all House members who originally voted for the bill to be in attendance in order to override the veto of the governor. Since a couple of House members were unavailable Tuesday and today (Wednesday), the override motions were not called for a vote. Once word spread that there would be no votes on those two days, many members returned to their districts. The House did not conduct business Tuesday or Wednesday for lack of a quorum.

Though the bill received the 3/5 vote necessary when it passed the House, there is no guarantee that everyone who voted for it originally will vote to override the veto.

Other issues remain as well. Both the Senate President and the House Speaker continue to state that they are working toward an agreement with Republicans on the governor’s other requests, like property tax relief, workers’ compensation reform, and school funding reform. SB 6 and SB 42 are crafted in a way that if there is not a new evidence-based funding formula signed into law, no formula funding will be available for K-12 schools in FY ’18. SB 1, which contains language for a new formula, has been approved by both chambers but the governor has vowed to veto the bill unless there are further changes.

ISBE website upgrade offers improved navigation for users

Navigation within the ISBE website has been totally changed.
Launched late last year, the Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) updated website offers a number of improvements for users and a noticeably modern look. The navigation within the website has been totally transformed. Materials are now categorized by audience and topic, with content that is easily discernible for administrators, teachers, students, and members of the community.

Technology upgrades are also noticeably present. The News and Media page showcases live social media updates from the board. The Innovation and Ideas tab allows districts and other outlets to share ideas, unique projects, and creative technology uses. And live audio of state board meetings is now available.

The Data and Analysis section can be particularly helpful for boards of education and local districts. Up-to-date state report card statistics, as well as multi-year trends are available in both PDF and spreadsheet form. PARCC results also are broken down via easy-to-read documents that can be beneficial when explaining scores to the community.

Also in the data section are numerous education-related reports. From the teacher salary study to ISBE’s annual report, all provide a breakdown of important information for board members, administrators, and families.

One area that will likely receive an influx of web-viewers in the near future is the ESSA page. It provides details of the revised Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plan, as well as state and federal resources regarding implementation.  An ESSA webinar, power point presentation, and one-page brief are also available.

Two videos to assist with navigating the website are provided here

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-31

NO HOUSE ACTION DUE TO LACK OF QUORUM

The Illinois House of Representatives, scheduled for legislative session today at 4:30 p.m. to take up budgetary matters, could not convene for lack of a quorum. Only 54 representatives were in attendance for the roll call. There are 118 members of the House of Representatives. Apparently, when House Speaker Michael Madigan indicated earlier today that there would not be a vote to override the budget bills, lawmakers headed for home.

After the Senate approved the package of budget bills (SB 6, SB 9, and SB 42) earlier today, it immediately sent the bills to the governor for consideration. Likewise, the governor acted immediately, and vetoed all three of the bills. The Senate, then, promptly overrode all three of the bills.

The legislation was sent to the House of Representatives, giving State Representatives the opportunity to override the bills. If motions to override are successful in the House, SB 6, SB 9, and SB 42 will become law and the state will have a budget in place. If the override motions fail, or if no override motion is called for a vote, the bills will be considered dead and the state would limp into another fiscal year without a budget in place.

The House is now scheduled to reconvene Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. The Senate left open a day and time to convene and will do so “at the call of the President.”

Items expected to be considered before lawmakers conclude their “spring” legislative session are: veto override motions on SB 6, SB 9, and SB 42; property tax relief legislation; workers’ compensation law reforms; and school funding reforms.



Alliance Legislative Report 100-30

SENATE APPROVES REVENUE/APPROPRIATIONS BILLS

Today, the Illinois Senate approved the budget package that the House of Representatives sent over on Sunday. SB 9, which contains provisions for a permanent increase in the State’s income tax rates, was approved on a mostly partisan roll call vote of 36-18. 35 of the 37 Democrats in the chamber voted for the measure while Representative Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) was the lone Republican supporter. Here are the roll call vote results.

SB 6, which makes the appropriations necessary for the budget, was approved by the Senate on a vote of 39-14. This time, four Republicans joined the Democrat majority in passing the bill. Here are those roll call vote results.

Alliance members are urged to call and thank those legislators who voted for SB 6 and SB 9 today.

The final bill in the package is SB 42, the budget implementation bill (BIMP). The BIMP, which makes the substantive changes necessary to operate the budget, was approved on a 36-17 vote.

CORRECTION: Please be advised that there was an error in the last Alliance Legislative Report regarding the BIMP bill analysis. The partial pension cost shift for school districts will be effective on salaries above $180,000. The report mistakenly listed the salary at $140,000. Sorry for any inconvenience this error caused.

Governor Bruce Rauner has indicated that he will veto the bills in the budget package because no legislation on reforms has been approved. Generally, the General Assembly has 30 days to send a bill to the governor and the governor has 60 days to take action. However, the process on these bills will likely be expedited. Whether that means it will happen in days – or weeks – remains to be seen.

The Senate has been in recess since the passage of the bills this morning. The House is set to return this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. To this point, no new legislation has surfaced regarding the remaining sticking points: workers’ compensation reform, school funding reform, and a property tax freeze.

The Alliance will continue to provide updates throughout the day via legislative reports, Twitter reports, and blog articles.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-29

LEGISLATURE ADJOURNS – RECONVENES TOMORROW

There will be no end to the legislative session today (Monday). The House of Representatives, a day after approving a state spending bill and legislation to add revenues to sustain a budget, adjourned early and will reconvene on Tuesday, July 4, at 4:30 p.m. The Senate also adjourned to return Tuesday morning.

Representatives did approve the budget implementation bill (BIMP), SB 42, which contains the substantive language necessary to implement the budget items. Now all of the budgetary items have been sent to the Senate for consideration. However, after hours of leadership meetings and party caucuses Monday, no action was taken up on the floor.

The BIMP bill also includes pension language that would affect school districts. It authorizes state retirement systems, including the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), to offer a Tier III defined contribution plan. In such a plan, the employee would contribute 6.2 percent of his/her creditable earnings while the employer would contribute 2 percent. SB 42 also would shift the normal pension costs from the state to the local school district for the amount of salary for any employee whose creditable earnings is higher than the salary of the governor ($140,000).

Other things are still very fluid in the Capitol. Though the budget bills have been approved by the House, bills that represent the other parts of the “agreement” have yet to be finalized. 15 House Republicans supported SB 6 and SB 9 Sunday with the understanding that reform bills (pensions, workers’ compensation, property tax caps, school funding reform) would follow. The issues are still works in progress and no bills or amendments were filed Monday on these issues.

In the Senate, without these additional issues being addressed, Republican votes for a budget may be more difficult to count on. Though Democrats have enough votes in their caucus to approve the budget and revenue bills without the other party’s support, there may be some reluctance for them to do so. Thus, the slowdown in the Capitol today.

The Alliance will continue updating on these issues through reports, tweets, and blog articles.

State Superintendent highlights LGBTQ resources

State Supt. Tony Smith
Students identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ), and those perceived as LGBTQ, are bullied more often than most students, according to State Superintendent Tony Smith. This means such students are more likely to disengage, skip school, and struggle with mental health issues, he said in his “Weekly Message” newsletter on June 6.

“ISBE believes that quality education nurtures each student as a whole child, recognizing and strengthening their connections between social, emotional, physical, and cognitive health,” he said. To that end, ISBE provides a variety of resources supporting the health and safety of LGBTQ students and all students on the state agency’s Climate and Culture web pages, including resources developed by Illinois districts and schools.

These resources include:

  • Anti-Bias and Anti-Hate 
  • Bullying Prevention
  • School Climate 
  • School Health Issues 
  • Social and Emotional Learning  
  • Student and Family Resources 
  • Homeless Education 

“The work to ensure that all students and staff feel safe, valued, and well cared for is an ongoing process,” he continued. “Making safe and healthy schools a priority is a leadership opportunity for all of us. Empathy and compassion can help us create schools that nurture all students, help all students thrive, strengthen our communities, and maximize the potential of everyone who lives in our state.”

Sunday, July 2, 2017

News Release: School Management Alliance applauds vote to keep schools open

SPRINGFIELD - After 732 days without a state budget, the Illinois House of Representatives took a significant step toward ending the longest impasse of any state in the country by approving a revenue bill Sunday. Amendment 3 to Senate Bill 9, which includes a state income tax hike, passed by a 72-45 vote that included 15 Republican votes. The vote total was one more than the super-majority necessary.

The House then immediately moved to Senate Bill 6, a balanced budget bill, which passed by an 81-34 vote. That bill included $350 million additional education funding for the evidence-based school funding model as well as increased funding for regular transportation for schools.

"It is very difficult for anyone of either party to vote for a tax increase, but it had become clear that the state did not have enough revenue to even cover the schools budget it passed last year, let alone higher education, social services and the many other state services that people all over the state depend on. We want to thank those legislators that took this tough vote," said Roger Eddy, executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB).

The income tax increase from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent returns that tax almost to the temporary 5 percent income tax that was rolled back two years ago. At the time the income tax increase expired on January 1, 2015, the state's backlog of bills was $4.36 million. Today, according to the State Comptroller's website, that backlog stands at more than $14.7 billion. The lack of revenue resulted in the state making only two of four payments to schools for items such as transportation and special education, resulting in the state owing schools more than $1 billion for last year alone.

"School administrators all over the state have been making tough decisions and cuts because of the lack of state revenue. Providing educational opportunities for our students is the best investment the state can make in its future and we thank those legislators who stepped up for our schools," said Dr. Brent Clark, executive director of the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA).

"We are grateful to legislators from both parties that stepped up and voted vote to save our schools and our state," said Dr. Michael Jacoby, executive director of the Illinois Association of School Business Officials (IASBO).

"We appreciate those state representatives that had the political courage to be a champion for our school children. Thanks to them, our schools will be able to open on time this fall," said Jason Leahy, executive director of the Illinois Principals Association (IPA).

The amended revenue and budget bills now move to the Senate, which is expected to consider the measures when it reconvenes Monday. Other proposals, including a property tax freeze, pension reform and worker's compensation reform, also are expected to be called for a vote in the House and Senate in the next few days.

The Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance includes the IASB, IASA, IASBO and IPA.

Alliance Legislative Report (100-28)

HOUSE APPROVES REVENUE/APPROPRIATIONS BILLS

SUPPORTERS SHOULD BE COMMENDED

The Illinois House of Representatives approved a bill today that will provide an estimated $5 billion to the state via a permanent increase in the state’s income tax rates. SB 9, handled on the House floor by Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago), passed on a bipartisan vote of 72-45.

SB 9 would increase the individual income tax rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent and the corporate rate from 5.25 percent to 7 percent. Provisions in an earlier version of the bill to broaden the sales tax to cover certain services and increase rates on utilities such as cable, satellite, and digital streaming services, were eliminated from the bill by the adoption of House Amendment 3.

The new revenue stream will allow the state to fund all of state government – including social services and institutions of higher education – and fund a new evidence-based funding formula for schools if SB 1 is signed into law.

As SB 9 provides revenue for the state, SB 6 makes the appropriations necessary to set a spending plan. The House approved the bulk of the plan in an amendment on Friday. Tonight, Representative Greg Harris presented two other amendments which were intended to address items brought forth in recent negotiations. The bill, as amended, was approved on a bipartisan vote of 81-34 and will now be sent to the Senate.

As stated in Alliance Legislative Report 100-26, SB 6 appropriates $350 million for a new, evidence-based funding formula for K-12 education, includes $65 million for regular transportation reimbursements to school districts which will set the proration level to over 80 percent, and increases Early Childhood Education funding by $50 million and Bilingual Education funding by $29 million. The other mandated categorical grant line items would be funded at least at Fiscal Year 2017 levels.

Both the House and Senate will reconvene Monday. The House will likely take up bills on a property tax freeze, pension reform, Workers’ Compensation Act reform, and a budget implementation act. The Senate, of course, will also have to consider the budget bills, SB 6 and SB 9.

RECOGNITION OF LEGISLATORS


School superintendents, board members, business officials, and principals have been very active in urging legislators to approve a balanced state budget for Fiscal Year 2018. It is equally important now for Alliance members to thank those legislators who voted for SB 6 and SB 9 today. Here are the roll calls for SB 6 and SB 9.


Alliance Legislative Report (100-27)

NO BUDGET MOVEMENT TODAY

WILL BE AT LEAST MONDAY FOR FINAL ACTION

No official action was taken on a state budget on Saturday. While optimism was higher Friday after the House adopted an amendment that contained a spending plan for all of state government, it is taking much more time to piece together the rest of a final budget agreement.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives convened session Saturday, but both chambers adjourned without passing any budget-related bills. The House will reconvene tomorrow (Sunday) at 2:00 p.m.; the Senate will not start up again until Monday.

Legislative leaders were in meetings most of the day and both parties are working to bring an end to the stalemate. However, there were reports that some meetings did get contentious. As highlighted in the last Alliance Legislative Report, the sticking points are: enhanced revenues, a property tax freeze, pension reform, school funding reform, and reform of the state law on workers’ compensation.

Little action was taken up on the floor Saturday by the House. The Senate did approve dozens of bills on the regular session calendar.

Here are the potential sticking points to the major budget-related items:

Enhanced Revenues

As approved by the Senate, SB 9 would have increased the State income tax rates for individuals and corporations, increased taxes on cable, satellite, and digital services, and expanded the sales tax to some services. It seems that the digital tax and the expanded sales tax are out. This will then require a new revenue source to make up that difference or cuts in spending to balance the budget.

There is also a push by the governor to make the increase in income tax rates temporary. The reasoning is that it is unfair to taxpayers for the income tax increase to be permanent and the property tax relief provision to be temporary.

Property Tax Freeze

The governor has been pushing for a freeze of property tax extensions by local governments and school districts. Many legislators have been resistant to the concept for fear of the funding loss to school districts. However, the House did craft a bill (SB 484) that had a four-year property tax extension freeze, with some exceptions for school districts on the financial watch list. The plan also left property taxes levied for pension purposes outside of the cap. There are objections to the exceptions.

And, again, the governor wants the property tax freeze to be permanent if the income tax increase is permanent.

School Funding Formula

Both chambers have approved SB 1 which contains a new evidence-based funding formula to distribute funds to K-12 schools.  Late amendments to the bill in the House made changes to the formula that resulted in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) receiving more funding than they would have received under the Senate version. Downstate legislators, mostly Republican, objected to the funding formula changes. Discussions continue as lawmakers try to find common ground. There is still a push by some members to include mandate relief for school districts.

Pension Reform

With pension debt demanding a greater share of state resources each year, there have been numerous attempts over the years to reform the retirement systems. The Senate has focused on the “consideration model” in which current pension-eligible employees would have to make the choice between having future salary increases count towards pensionable salary, and receiving the current compounded cost of living adjustment upon retirement.

The House, however, approved a less stringent bill (HB 4045) last week. It would make this consideration model optional but would add other provisions. The bill would offer a pension buyout for Tier I vested but inactive members; create a new Tier III formula for new employees which is a hybrid between a defined benefit plan and a defined contribution plan, and would allow Tier I and Tier II employees to opt into a defined contribution 401 (k) plan.


Also being discussed is a partial shift of the normal costs of an employee’s pension costs from the state to local school districts. Generally, the shift would be triggered by a specific salary amount. In the last version filed publicly, a school district would be responsible for the normal pension costs of any employee with a salary of $140,000 or greater.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report (100-26)

POSITIVE MOVEMENT TODAY ON BUDGET
LEGISLATURE WILL RECONVENE TOMORROW

Earlier today, the Illinois House of Representatives approved an amendment, on a bipartisan basis, that would make appropriations for a comprehensive, full-year budget for all of state government. SB 6 (Steans, D-Chicago) is still pending on the House floor for a final passage vote, likely to keep the bill in a posture that could be further amended if warranted by the ongoing budget talks.

After passage of the bill, the legislative leaders met, which then sent each party caucus into their respective private meetings. At approximately 2:30 p.m., the House adjourned and announced it will reconvene Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. The next 12-24 hours will be filled with intense negotiations on the rest of the initiatives to be included in any budget agreement.

SB 9 (Hutchison, D-Olympia Fields), the bill that would raise billions of dollars for the state via changes in the tax structure, including an increase in the state income tax rates, will be at the forefront of those discussions. Without new revenues, the appropriations tentatively agreed to cannot be sustained, and the budget bill will likely not be called for a vote on final passage.

Other “non-budget” issues that are still being pushed by some to be part of the final budget agreement will also be negotiated. These include a property tax freeze, pension reform, school funding reform, and reform of the state law on workers’ compensation.

K-12 Education Funding

SB 6 would appropriate $350 million for a new, evidence-based funding formula for K-12 education. An appropriation of this size should sufficiently fund SB 1, the funding reform bill that has been approved by both chambers. But, no doubt, there is still lively discussions between the political parties about the final form of a school funding reform initiative.

SB 6 also includes $65 million for regular transportation reimbursements to school districts, and would increase Early Childhood Education funding by $50 million and Bilingual Education funding by $29 million. The other mandated categorical grant line items would be funded at least at Fiscal Year 2017 levels.

What is Next?

Though there is a long way to go before a final, comprehensive, balanced state budget is approved, this is the most positive momentum there has been in over two years. The legislature will return Saturday in a bid to wrap everything up. Since the bills are beginning in the House through amendments, that is where the action will start. Anything approved by the House will then be sent to the Senate for consideration. The governor will have the ultimate decision once the bills reach his desk. But since we have passed the May 31 st constitutional deadline, any bill with an immediate effective date (like an FY 18 appropriations bill) needs a 3/5 vote for passage – this will require Republican votes and would be the same number of votes necessary to override a veto by the governor.

Even though, technically, the state will begin a new fiscal year without a budget, July 1 is a Saturday which could provide a buffer before the real effects of entering another fiscal year without spending authority occur. Those very real possibilities include the national bond houses downgrading Illinois’ bond rating to the lowest level possible, stopping in mid-work all of the road construction projects in the state, and the multi-state lotteries disallowing Illinois’s participation in the games.

Keep Up the Pressure


The participation and engagement by school superintendents, board members, and other Alliance members over the past few weeks has been impressive – and there are results to prove it. The needle has been moved in large part to that advocacy work.

But now, more than ever, the pressure needs to remain. Not only should Alliance members continue calling their legislators to demand a balanced, statewide budget – they should be urging their teachers, parents of the students, and the entire community to do the same in the next 12-24 hours.