Friday, May 24, 2019

Alliance Legislative Report 101-18

LEGISLATURE HEADS DOWN HOMESTRETCH

The Illinois General Assembly is fast approaching the scheduled May 31st deadline for adjournment. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are working today (Friday). The Senate does not have session scheduled for Saturday or Sunday, but will return to the Capitol Monday. The House had scheduled session days straight through the weekend, but cancelled session for Saturday.

Lawmakers have huddled in various groups to negotiate key pending issues over the past week. Leaders and bill sponsors are meeting to find agreements on legislation regarding legalization of recreational marijuana, expanded gaming, capital projects, tax increase, and a property tax freeze. Each of these are important pieces necessary to meet the revenue requests of Governor JB Pritzker’s proposed Fiscal Year 2020 state budget.

Other education-related legislation is still awaiting final votes as well. The bills to increase the minimum salary for teachers – SB 10 and HB 2078 – are on the Senate floor and House floor, respectively. Since nothing is ever really “dead” in the Capitol, the Alliance is still watching closely for any movement of legislation regarding P.E. (SB 1189 and HB 2234) and school consolidation (HB 3053).

 
LATE DEVELOPMENTS

PROPERTY TAX CAPS

The House Revenue and Finance Committee is scheduled to meet Monday morning at 8:30 to consider the bill that will extend property tax caps to school districts in all counties. SB 690 (Zalewski, D-Riverside) would, beginning in levy year 2022, place school districts in every county under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL). PTELL sets an “extension limitation” at the lesser of 5 percent or the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Under the proposal, school districts would have their “extension limitation” set at 0 percent if they are not “qualified school districts.” A “qualified school district” is one that received less than 97 percent reimbursement for certain mandated categorical grants or “did not receive the minimum funding required for that school district under the evidence-based funding formula” in the previous school fiscal year.

The Alliance opposes the bill and school board members and administrators are urged to file a witness slip to register official opposition to the proposal. The link to file a witness slip can be found here.

SB 689 (Zalewski), which would repeal the estate tax that is currently imposed in Illinois, is also scheduled for hearing in the committee.

FAFSA REQUIRED FOR GRADUATION

An amendment was filed to HB 2719 (Ammons, D-Champaign) that would require each high school student to complete the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as a prerequisite to receive a graduation diploma. There is a provision for a waiver form to be completed by the student declaring that he/she is aware of the FAFSA application but chooses not to file one. Also, the school district “must provide to each high school student any support or assistance necessary” if a student needs assistance in completing the FAFSA.

HB 2719 was approved by the Senate Education Committee and is awaiting action on the Senate floor. Here is the text of the amendment.

INTER-DISTRICT TRANSFERS OF STUDENTS

SB 449 (Lightford, D-Maywood) allows a student who is a victim of gender-based violence to transfer schools (even to another school district) immediately if the student’s continued attendance at the original school poses a risk to the student’s mental or physical well-being or safety. It also provides that a student’s disclosure of his/her status as a parent, expectant parent, or victim of gender-based violence be a mitigating circumstance in any suspension or expulsion proceeding. Many other requirements for school districts are also included affecting homebound instruction, student absences/truancy, staff training, review/revision of policies and procedures, complaint procedures, confidentiality, and student accommodations and services.

The Alliance continues to participate in discussions with the bill’s proponents to eliminate some of the school district mandates and add flexibility to schools. However, a second House amendment filed late this week still falls short and the Alliance remains opposed.

Click here to read the full Alliance Legislative Report 101-18, including a number of bills approved by both chambers and sent to the governor.