April 23 was the deadline for bills to cross from the House to the Senate and vice versa. The past two weeks in Springfield have been bustling with new amendments filed and sent to committee with one hour notice as well as long days of legislative action on the floor. Legislative efforts will now shift to readying bills for final passage and crafting the FY22 State Budget. At this time, the General Assembly continues to be on track to adjourn by the May 31 deadline. A recap of the action:
FY22 State Budget Discussion
Members of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee held a joint hearing Friday April 23 on tax changes proposed by the governor to balance the state’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year. In his budget proposal released in February, Gov. Pritzker outlined nine changes to the corporate tax code meant to generate $932 million in revenue for the state to maintain a balanced budget while keeping income taxes and government spending flat for FY 22, which begins July 1. According to the governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), the state’s short-term fiscal situation looked positive due to loans and an influx of funds from the federal government as part of several coronavirus relief packages passed in the last year. But for long-term stability, there are hard choices to be made regarding the tax code. IFT supports changes to the Invest in Kids Tax Credit. The governor also proposed a reduction (from 75% to 40%) of the tax credit for individuals and businesses that contribute to private school scholarships.
Forced Consolidation Bill Stopped
HB 7 (Mayfield, D-Waukegan) as amended by House Amendment #3 creates the Efficient School District Commission. Its purpose is to provide recommendations to the governor, the General Assembly, and the electorate regarding the number of school districts in this state and where the reorganization and realignment of school districts would be beneficial. The 13-member commission would be charged with making recommendations to regional superintendents on school consolidation. The question of whether to consolidate districts would be put on the ballot in communities without their input. The IFT and other education stakeholders opposed this bill and it failed to gain enough support to pass the House. The bill will be returned to the House Rules Committee, though similar efforts could still come up before the end of the 2021 spring legislative session.
Elected School Board Efforts Continue
IFT, CTU, and parent and community allies continue pushing to create an elected representative school board for Chicago.
Chicago Board of Education Elected School Board
HB 2908 (Rep. Ramirez, D-Chicago) brings the Chicago Public Schools in line with the rest of Illinois’ school district governance structures. The bill provides for a 20-member school board representing districts in the city of Chicago to first be elected in the consolidated election of 2023. Candidate qualifications for board members are the same as candidates in the rest of the state, and the board’s duties would be equivalent to those of other Illinois school boards. Districts will be drawn to ensure equal representation and meet all tests required by the Federal Voting Rights Act. HB 2908 passed the House last week by a vote of 71 YES – 39 NO – 3 PRESENT.