Saturday, February 17, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-56


The Illinois General Assembly took a brief timeout to listen to the governor’s budget plans this week, then went back to considering new legislation in committees. After Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his Budget Address on Wednesday, lawmakers took to their partisan corners and opined about the fiscal message. Democrat leaders quickly denounced the budget plan as unbalanced, unfair to school districts and state workers, and generally unworkable. Republicans mostly lauded the calls for a leaner budget, income tax rate reductions, and pension reform. However, even some Republican legislators joined the vast majority of Democrats in casting a wary eye at the idea of shifting the state’s pension obligation onto local school districts.

The Senate returns to the Capitol next Tuesday; the House of Representatives will not reconvene until Feb. 27.

As reported in the last Alliance Legislative Report, the governor proposed to shift the normal costs of active teacher pensions from the state and onto local school district budgets over a four year period. The first year cost of the new unfunded mandate on local school districts is estimated at $490 million. This would certainly eat up most, if not all, of any increase school districts would get through the new funding formula. A press statement on the cost shift can be found here and an earlier blog article on the issue is also available.

For Fiscal Year 2019, the governor proposed an increase of $350 million for the new Evidence-Based Funding Formula – an amount equal to the increase in the current fiscal year. Also in his plan is a $10.5 million increase for Early Childhood Education, and a $2.4 million decrease in the line item for student assessments. With the exception of the special education orphanage tuition budget line, he would fund the mandated categorical grants at the same levels as the current fiscal year, including transportation reimbursements. Funding for the budget line items for After School Programs, Advance Placement, After School Matters, District Intervention, Parent Mentoring, National Board Certified Teachers, School Support Services (lowest performing schools), and Teach for America would be eliminated, allowing $28.9 million to be redirected toward the other education budget items

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 100-56, including information on a number of other education related bills.