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GOVERNMENT RELATIONS


Alliance Legislative Report 97-28

Distributed via Email: October 11, 2011

LEGISLATURE RETURNS IN TWO WEEKS

The Illinois General Assembly will return to the Capitol for the fall veto session October 25-27 and November 8-10. Lawmakers have not convened for a legislative session since their adjournment of the spring legislative session on May 31. Upon its return, the legislature will consider vetoes issued by the governor, including budgetary vetoes, and any other issues deemed appropriate by the legislative leadership. These issues could include: pension reform, revenue sources for Regional Superintendents of Schools salaries, and tweaks to the new education reform bill (SB 7) which was enacted this summer.

BILL INTRODUCED ON ROE SALARIES

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago) introduced a bill last week that would require that the Regional Superintendents of Schools (and their assistants) have their salaries paid out of Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax (CPPRT) funds instead of from State General Revenue Funds appropriated through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Governor Pat Quinn issued a line-item veto of the ISBE budget bill this summer, eliminating $9.1 million of state funding that was earmarked for paying the salaries of the regional superintendents and their assistants. This has left the duly elected regional superintendents without paychecks since July 1.

HB 3828 has been assigned to the House Revenue and Finance Committee. The bill will likely be scheduled for a hearing in the committee upon the legislature’s return to Springfield later this month.

Under the bill, funding for Regional Office of Education (ROE) superintendents would still be appropriated through the ISBE, but the origin of the funds would now be the CPPRT instead of the state general coffers. The governor initially stated that he was “reducing bureaucracy” with the salary cut, but later clarified that he believed that the regional superintendents were local officials and should be paid by local taxpayers instead of by the state.

The issue is more complicated, however. The state school aid formula, in calculating the amount of financial assistance a school district will receive, first determines a district’s Available Local Resources. The CPPRT is a key factor in the ascertainment of a school districts Available Local Resources. The state then makes up the difference between what the school district can generate locally and the State’s per pupil foundation level (currently set at $6,119).

If there are less local resources available – i.e. a reduction in the CPPRT – the state must pick up this additional share of funding for school districts. This equation makes it questionable whether the Governor’s plan to shift the funding for ROE salaries is really a savings to the state. Further, CPPRT revenues are local revenues and raiding these funds in order to bail out the state in one of its fiscal responsibilities seems imprudent.

Remember, the budget implementation bill this spring also contained a provision to use a portion of CPPRT funds for stipends for local government officials. Though bill sponsors at the time stated that the bill would be “revenue neutral” and there would be no loss of funds for school districts, it diverted $31 million from CPPRT payments to local governments of which school districts receive 60%.

The bill text of HB 3828 can be found here.

CONSOLIDATION COMMISSION UPDATE

The School District Realignment and Consolidation Commission, now known as the “Classrooms First Commission”, has begun its work. Members convened for the first time on September 29 th in Springfield. The next meeting of the commission is October 21 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the ISBE offices in Springfield. The public is welcome to attend. Doors open a half-hour before the meeting and a public comment period is scheduled for the last 30 minutes of the meeting.

The first public hearing of the commission is scheduled this Thursday, October 13, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at John A. Logan College in Carterville. Doors will open at 11:00. Anyone wishing to give public comment will need to sign in and are encouraged to bring written testimony. Each speaker will be given five minutes to speak.

School board members, administrators, and others are encouraged to participate in these public hearings and explain your views on school district consolidation, realignment, and efficiencies.

More information on the commission can be found here.

DRIVER’S EDUCATION TOPIC OF HEARING

The Senate Education Committee will meet on October 18 in Chicago to discuss “Oversight of Driver’s Education Programs”. The hearing is scheduled in Room C-600 of the Michael Bilandic Building at 160 N. LaSalle Street at 10:00 a.m.

Much of the focus is expected to be on behind-the-wheel driver’s instruction provided by private contractors. However, discussions could cover the cost of driver’s education courses in public high schools, criteria for private driver’s education contractors, and prohibiting school districts from requesting mandate waivers for driver’s education.

School administrators are encouraged to attend this important Education Committee hearing.

MANDATE WAIVER REPORT

The ISBE’s Fall 2011 Mandate Waiver Summary Report has been filed. There are 47 mandate waiver requests that have been submitted to the General Assembly for review. Of those, 15 address the daily physical education requirement, 13 address non-resident student tuition, and 9 address driver’s education.

School districts that have a waiver request that has been transmitted to the legislature are encouraged to contact their State Representative and State Senator and ask for support for your waiver request. The education committees in the House and Senate are likely to convene during the upcoming Veto Session and take testimony from school districts on mandate waiver requests.

This legislative report is written and edited by the lobbyists of the Illinois Association of School Boards to provide information to the members of the organizations that comprise the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance.

Bill Text/Status: Illinois General Assembly www.ilga.gov


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