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GOVERNMENT RELATIONS


Alliance Legislative Report 97-35

Distributed via Email: November 30, 2011

TAX BILL FAILS; BUDGET CHANGED

The Illinois legislature met for one extra day as lawmakers approved several bills on Tuesday. The General Assembly originally only had six legislative days scheduled for the Fall Veto Session, but added the day this week in an attempt to complete its business relating to taxation and the Fiscal Year 2012 state budget. However, legislators were unable to agree on portions of a tax incentives bill and more session days in December could be the result.

Discussions this week focused on plans to offer tax breaks to certain Illinois businesses which had threatened to leave the state because of certain tax law effects. The Sears Corporation and the CME Group (Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade) were at the center of the debate.

An agreement was reached on the FY 2012 budget, with lawmakers generally agreeing to go along with Governor Pat Quinn’s budget vetoes. His cuts, including $89 million in school transportation reimbursements, will stand, with those funds being diverted to other portions of the state budget, including funds necessary to keep open prisons and homes for the developmentally disabled which were on the chopping block.

No action was taken this week on proposals regarding pension reform or expanded gaming.

BUDGET REDISTRIBUTION

SB 2412 (Steans, D-Chicago) is an appropriations bill that redistributes funds among current state budget line items. From funds that resulted in the governor’s budget cuts, $202 million was diverted to allow state facilities to remain open and offer services, such as downstate correctional facilities and mental health centers. Other funds were directed to: alcohol and substance abuse programs ($28 million), community mental health programs ($30 million), funds for burying the indigent ($8 million), homeless services ($4.7 million), and hospital funding and reimbursement ($276 million).

The bill was approved by both chambers and will be sent to the governor.

TAX PROPOSAL

HB 1883 (Bradley, D-Marion) contained approximately $250 million in tax cuts for specific business interests. Generally, it provided about $85 million in incentives for the CME Group and $15 million in breaks for Sears. It also made corporate and individual tax changes regarding operating losses and estate tax deductions and made changes for lower income earners relating to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the standard personal income tax exemption.

The bill was approved by the Senate on a vote of 36-18-1, the bare minimum number of votes needed for passage. It failed on the floor of the House of Representatives with only eight members voting yes and 99 voting no.

Legislative leaders will be meeting in the coming days to gauge support for an amended version of the bill. Lawmakers could be called back to the Capitol in December for another vote on the tax package.

RULES SUBMITTED ON TEACHER/PRINCIPAL EVALUATIONS

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has officially submitted proposed rules on the new

criteria for evaluating teachers and principals. The Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) has been meeting for nearly two years to recommend new evaluation procedures in the wake of the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) of 2010 and the Education Reform Act of 2011 (SB 7).

According to the ISBE, “ The proposed rules provide the structure upon which districts will build performance evaluation systems that incorporate student growth as a significant factor as well as a research based framework for reviewing effective practice.” Some points to remember include:

 

  • Starting September 2012, all teachers and principals/assistant principals must be rated as Excellent, Proficient, Needs Improvement or Unsatisfactory.
  • Starting September 2012, the evaluations of all principals/assistant principals must include student growth as a significant factor.
  • Teacher evaluations incorporating student growth as a significant factor will be phased in, starting with at least 300 schools in Chicago in September 2012 and the remaining Chicago schools in September 2013. All schools in the state must incorporate student growth as a significant factor in teacher evaluations by September 2016.
  • Tenured teachers will be evaluated at least every other year, however, tenured teachers evaluated as “Needs Improvement” or “Unsatisfactory” must be evaluated the following year.
  • Student growth must count for at least 25 percent of the evaluation for the 2012-13 and 2013-14, then at least 30 percent starting in September 2014.
  • Starting in 2012-13, all evaluators must be pre-qualified and then retrained every five years.

The full text of the rule proposal can be found here. School administrators and board members are urged to review the rule proposal and provide comments to the ISBE on any concerns about it. Public comment may be submitted, either via e-mail (addressed to: rules@isbe.net) or via standard mail (addressed to Shelley Helton, Agency Rules Coordinator, ISBE, 100 North First Street - S-493, Springfield, Illinois 62777-0001). 

The comment period for these submitted rules ends January 17, 2012.

RULES ALSO SUBMITTED ON SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER TRAINING

Likewise, ISBE has submitted the proposed rules on the new school board member training requirement that was contained in SB 7. The rule proposal includes who may provide such training. The full text of the rule proposal can be found here.

Comments may also be submitted to the ISBE regarding this proposed rulemaking by using the same procedure as highlighted above. The deadline for comments on this proposal is December 19, 2011

SB 7 GUIDELINES TO BE MADE AVAILABLE BY ISBE

Since its enactment in June, school administrators and board members have been asking many

questions regarding the details of SB 7, important questions that affects how the new law would be implemented. There were requests that legislation be passed this fall, a “trailer bill”, that would have clarified some of the provisions of SB 7 – but that did not happen. However, the ISBE is working on a new document of “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) pertaining to SB 7. This document is designed to be used as a guideline for school districts to follow in the early stages of implementation of the new education reform bill.   The finishing touches are being put on the document today (Wednesday), and the FAQ is due to be posted on the ISBE website later today or Thursday. Though a specific link is not available yet, it will likely be posted on the PEAC webpage here.

Though this new document will provide needed clarity into some of the finer points of the new law, school districts are encouraged to continue to work closely with their legal counsel in implementing SB 7 provisions for the first time.

OTHER BILL ACTION THIS WEEK

SB 1311 (Steans) is the budget implementation bill for the appropriations in the new budget agreement. Specifically for schools, it states that the funds appropriated for the new State Charter School Commission may be used for “personal services, contractual services, and other operational and administrative costs”. The bill was approved by the legislature and will be sent to the Governor for further consideration.

HB 3813 (Cross, R-Oswego) addresses TRS participants’ leaves of absence during which a participant is employed by a labor organization. The bill was approved by the legislature and will be sent to the Governor for further consideration.

SB 1226 (Maloney, D-Chicago) addresses the limits in enrollment for the agricultural science school in Chicago. The bill was approved by the legislature and will be sent to the Governor for further consideration.

SB 1865 (Sandoval, D-Chicago) is a “trailer bill” to SB 965 that was approved in November. It provides that if a safety zone is based upon the property line of any facility, area, or land owned by a school district, an automated speed enforcement system shall be operational and violations shall be recorded only on school days and no earlier than 6:00 a.m. and no later than 8:30 p.m. if the school day is during the period of Monday through Thursday, or 9 p.m. if the school day is a Friday. This applies to the City of Chicago only. The bill was approved by the legislature and will be sent to the Governor for further consideration.

HB 507 (Mitchell, R-Rock Falls) extends the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts in Dixon and Lansing to 35 years (instead of 23 years). The bill was approved by the legislature and will be sent to the Governor for further consideration.

HB 3375 (McCarthy, D-Orland Park) specifies that a provision authorizing TRS annuitants to return to service must not be construed to authorize multiple annuitants, without impairing their retirement status, to accept employment with a school district or other employer in order to fill, as a group, a teaching position that would ordinarily be occupied by an active participant. If a school board or other employer determines there is a subject or administrative shortage, then it must apply for an exemption under a specific provision of the Pension Code. The bill was approved by the Senate and was sent to the House of Representatives for concurrence in the Senate amendment.

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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