The Illinois General Assembly continues to work toward its May 31 scheduled adjournment, though many of the key issues remain unsettled. Hundreds of bills are making their way through the legislative process, but a Fiscal Year 2022 state budget and accompanying revenue sources are still being discussed.
Climate Jobs Virtual Lobby Day – May 12th
The labor coalition, Climate Jobs Illinois, has authored the Climate Union Jobs Act (CUJA) that would put thousands of union tradespeople to work building a 100 percent clean energy economy in Illinois and provide a new pathway to the middle class, especially for historically underinvested communities. It includes a provision that would increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions at Illinois schools, saving districts millions in annual expenditures. Grassroots lobbying is key to putting Illinois on a path to a fair and equitable clean energy future. Sign up to join the Climate Jobs Illinois Virtual Lobby day on Weds. May 12 .
Governor Announces Better Than Expected Revenues, Support For $350M New Evidence-Based Funding
On Thursday, Governor JB Pritzker announced that state revenues have outpaced expectations and that he supports increasing evidence-based funding by $350 million. The governor’s spring budget proposal flat funded education spending due to both the pandemic and the failure of the Fair Tax constitutional amendment. While legislators are still working to craft the FY22 state budget, the increased revenue projections come as welcome news to parents, students, and educators.
HB 18 (Scherer, D-Decatur/Morrison, D-Highwood) will stretch out the evaluations for tenured teachers with excellent and proficient ratings to once every three years (rather than every other year) but leaves in the flexibility for more frequent administrative observations to ensure meaningful feedback to teachers and if determined to be necessary (current law).
Senator Julie Morrison (D-Highwood) filed an amendment this week that makes three changes:
clarifies evaluation/observation language in the bill,
extends the sunset of the Performance Evaluation Advisory Committee by three years (to 2024) to allow continued work on teacher evaluation training, and
provides parity by making the change applicable to educators in CPS.
The amendment is anticipated to be heard next week in Senate Education Committee.
Notable Legislative Action this Week:
Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act
SB818 (Villivalam, D-Chicago) requires the Illinois State Board of Education to adopt new learning standards on personal health and safety standards for grades K-5. New sexual health standards would also be adopted for students in grades 6-12. The bill requires these standards to be medically accurate, culturally appropriate, inclusive, trauma informed, developmentally and age appropriate. The new standards would not go into effect until 2023. The bill passed out of the Senate Executive Committee by a vote of 11-6.
Absenteeism and Truancy Policies Required
SB 605 (Collins, D-Chicago/Hernandez, D-Aurora) requires school districts to develop policies on absenteeism and truancy and requires annual notification to students and parents. Passed out the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Administration, Licensing & Charter committee unanimously (7-0-0).
Financial Literacy as Part of Mathematics
SB 1830 (Rep. Hirschauer, D-West Chicago) allows coursework on financial literacy to be included in math classes and counted as fulfilment of math requirements for a high school diploma. Passed the House Curriculum committee, 18-0. The bill now advances to the House floor.
House Passes Resolution Urging Testing Waiver
HR 170 (Rep. Scherer, D-Decatur) passed the House on a vote of 68 Yes – 37 No and 2 voting present. It requests the U.S. Department of Education exempt Illinois schools from taking the state mandated standardized tests in the spring of 2021.
Expanded Use of Sick Time for Adoption and Care of Foster Challenge
HB 816 (Mussman, D-Schaumburg/Feigenholtz, D-Chicago) provides that, in addition to birth, adoption, or placement for adoption, sick leave shall also be interpreted to mean the acceptance of a child in need of foster care. The bill and the amendment are scheduled to be heard in the Senate Labor Committee next week.
A look ahead
The Senate returns to Springfield Monday, May 10 at 4pm and the House returns Tuesday May 11 at noon. Next Friday, May 14 is the deadline for cross chamber bills to advance from committee.