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GOVERNMENT RELATIONS


Alliance Legislative Report 97-39

Distributed via Email: February 1, 2012

GOVERNOR GIVES STATE ADDRESS

Governor Pat Quinn delivered his State of the State address today (Wednesday) before a joint session of the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate. In the 35 minute speech, he spelled out the accomplishments in his tenure as governor, mostly as they related to economic growth, jobs, and legislative reform measures. Several new initiatives were unveiled, but with few details and without addressing the fiscal impact of those proposals.

Education was a common theme throughout the address as he mentioned the new education reform act, Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) grants for college students, the revised school district report cards, and the new report on community colleges.

EDUCATION INITIATIVES

Consolidation:   The governor made no mention of school district consolidation. Last year he pushed for a plan for mandatory school district consolidation without local input. The result of that proposal was the formation of the School District Realignment and Consolidation Commission, since renamed by Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon as the “Classrooms First” Commission. The Commission is working currently and will submit its report this summer.

Pensions: Earlier this week the governor’s office indicated that he would advocate for shifting hundreds of millions of dollars of the cost of the teacher pensions from the state to local school districts. The governor made no mention of this in his remarks. He did state that “we must have Medicaid reform and public pension reform in the coming year”; and that “we must do it together in a way that is meaningful, constitutional, and fair to the employees”.

He pledged to address the issue more specifically in his Budget Message scheduled for February 22. Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan have both suggested that teacher pension costs be shifted to the local school district.

Early Childhood Education: The governor pledged to push for a “major investment in early childhood education this year”. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), in its Fiscal Year 2013 budget request, is asking for a $20 million increase in pre-school funding. It is unclear at this time if that figure is in line with what Governor Quinn has in mind.

Compulsory School Attendance Age: The governor, following the lead of President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address, pledged support to increase the age that requires a high school student to remain in school. He stated that “we must raise the minimum school attendance age to 18 and we must work together this session to do it”. The current compulsory school attendance age is 17 years old.

Upgraded Classrooms: The governor called for an investment to create jobs as “we upgrade classrooms with modern labs, smart technology, digital books, high-speed internet access, and 21 st century efficiency”. No details were provided on how such a program would be implemented.

OTHER INITIATIVES

The governor proposed the “Illinois Jobs Agenda for 2012” which would have the following components:

  • Permanently abolish the natural gas utility tax. The tax is currently applied to all consumers and businesses.
  • Establish a “Child Tax Credit” for parents raising children. It would “provide $100 of direct tax relief every year to the typical family of four”.
  • Establish a “Hiring Veterans Tax Credit” to provide “a significant tax credit for every unemployed veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan that a company hires”.

There was no mention on what the cost of these programs would be to the state treasury. The plans will likely be fleshed out in the upcoming Budget Message.

Governor Quinn also announced plans to: launch the “Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network” to connect struggling homeowners with resources and counseling; start a major housing initiative that will help return vacant properties in Cook County to good use; and to “put thousands of people to work replacing broken water mains, building treatment plants, upgrading sewers, and cleaning up environmental threats”.

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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