Monday, May 9, 2016

Alliance Legislative Report 99-44

Alliance Legislative Report 99-44SIGNS OF PROGRESS

May 6, 2016

With the scheduled adjournment deadline getting closer and closer, the first week of May in the Illinois General Assembly might be more notable for what didn’t happen than what did. We previously previewed multiple Constitutional Amendments that were put forward that would have a serious impact on Illinois state government. However, none of them moved forward this week, passing a legislative deadline that effectively killed the amendments. For more on those amendments, see our last Alliance Legislative Report.

An expected vote on SB 231 was delayed as the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released its projections for funding under the plan. The numbers showed the Chicago Public School system to be the main benefactor of the new funding system. However, Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), the bill’s sponsor quickly claimed that the numbers were inaccurate.  Regardless of whether or not ISBE’s numbers or the Senate Democrats yet to be released numbers are more accurate, the conversation on school funding reform is far from over.

Signs of bi-partisan cooperation were evident again as the Senate passed two bills to help further fund higher education. The first piece of legislation, HB 580, forgives a loan that is owed to special funds that were swept previously. Forgiving this loan allows the Illinois General Assembly to access about $450 million in General Revenue Funds. A subsequent bill, SB 2048, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), would send that “new” money to higher education institutions that have been operating this fiscal year without help from the state of Illinois. Both bills now head to the House of Representatives for approval.