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GOVERNMENT RELATIONS


Alliance Legislative Report 97-55

Distributed via Email: May 31, 2012

TRS PENSION CHANGES PUT ON HOLD

After more than 12 months of intense pressure to approve legislation to reform the state’s pension systems, the Illinois General Assembly adjourned the spring session Thursday night without passing any such bill. The last two weeks were especially targeted on the issue as dozens of hours of discussions and negotiations took place as legislative leaders looked to reform the Teachers’ Retirement System. No bill to reform TRS was ever called for a vote on the House or Senate chamber floor.

On Tuesday, a bill was approved by a House committee that would have significantly changed the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for both active teachers and administrators and retired TRS members and would have shifted the state’s pension costs onto local school districts. By Thursday morning, the bill was amended to remove the provisions for the cost shift. On Thursday evening, Governor Pat Quinn told legislative leaders to stop action on the bill for now. The Governor is expected to call legislators back into session sometime this summer to address pension reform legislation.

When legislators do take up the issue again, it is likely that they will pick up where they left off: exploring benefit changes for current employees and annuitants and somehow shifting pension costs away from the state.

FISCAL YEAR 2013 BUDGET APPROVED

The legislature sent a budget to Governor Quinn for Fiscal Year 2013. The Senate adopted the House version of a spending plan, even though it contained considerably less spending than many Senators had hoped for. The House did, however, add a little more to the K-12 education budget than had been in its original plan. The portion of the FY ’13 budget containing ISBE funding is in SB 2413.

The initial House budget cut K-12 education $258 million below the FY ’12 funding level, including $212 million less in the General State Aid (GSA) formula. However, a late amendment restored $50 million for GSA. The education budget, which attempts to hold the mandatory categorical grant funds flat, results in an overall budget that is $208 million less than that in FY ’12.

No General Revenue Fund money was allocated for Regional Office of Education salaries as the necessary provisions were amended in the law to allow lawmakers to again fund these offices out of Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax funds.

OTHER LEGISLATIVE ACTION FROM THE WEEK

The following bills were approved and will be sent to the Governor for consideration:

SB 1849 (Link, D-Vernon Hills) will establish a land-based casino in Chicago, provide for four new riverboat casinos, and allow slot machines at horse racetracks. The plan is estimated to generate $1 billion in one time revenues for the gaming licenses, and an additional $700 million to $1 billion in recurring revenues to the state. A portion of all gaming funds is allocated to the Common School Fund.

SB 3374 (Holmes, D-Plainfield) establishes the Enhanced Physical Education Task Force to promote and recommend enhanced physical education programs that can be integrated with a broader wellness strategy and health curriculum in elementary and secondary schools.

HB 3826 (Chapa La Via, D-Aurora) , regarding service animals that must be allowed in schools, provides that "service animal" means a dog or miniature horse trained or being trained as a hearing animal, a guide animal, an assistance animal, a seizure alert animal, a mobility animal, a psychiatric service animal, an autism service animal, or an animal trained for any other physical, mental, or intellectual disability.

HB 4242 (Phelps, D-Norris City) creates the Natural Disaster Homestead Exemption to provide a property tax exemption for homeowners that lost a home in a natural disaster then replaced that home with a new one. The property owner would be eligible to receive a homestead exemption for that portion of the assessed value that is the difference between what the property was assessed at the year previous to the disaster and the newly assessed property after the improvements have been made. Restrictions apply, except that the exemption would only expire after the property was sold or transferred.

HB 5114 (Burke, D., D-Chicago) did r equire all students enrolled in grades 6-8 in the public schools to watch a training video on CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator. The bill was amended to remove the mandate and make the CPR training permissive under the section of the School Code regarding safety education.

HB 5689 (Lilly, C-Chicago) creates the Eradicate Domestic Violence Task Force to develop a statewide effective and feasible prevention course for high school students designed to prevent interpersonal, adolescent violence.

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 Statewide School Management Alliance.

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


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