The Illinois General Assembly has been working overtime to get a budget passed and sent to the desk of Governor JB Pritzker ahead of its self-imposed adjournment deadline of April 8. While the General Assembly looks to clear that bar by passing a budget later today (April 8) or even in the early hours of April 9, it has not been the only issue the General Assembly has been focused on. Hundreds of bills impacting education, elections, public safety, and a variety of other topics will be heading the governor when the House and Senate adjourn.
General Assembly Set to Pass Budget on Final Day of Spring Session
Budget, Revenues, and SpendingThe budget is always the biggest hurdle for the legislature every year. The budget-making process got publicly jumpstarted earlier than usual this year when House Bill 969 (Harris, G. D-Chicago) was introduced on April 5. While this will not be the final budget bill, it set a framework for negotiations for the final budget. Illinois is expected to bring in around $46 billion in total revenue this year. The revenue will allow the state to meet its $350 million obligation to the Evidence-Based Funding model. The budget proposal also includes significant investments in pensions, mandated categoricals, and early childhood education.
While the General Assembly is funding vital functions of state government, it is also proposing a tax cut program of $1.8 billion with a six-month gas tax relief plan, suspending the 1% tax on groceries, additional investment in the Earned Income Tax Credit, and direct checks to individuals and families. Education-specific incentives include a sales tax holiday for school supplies and an additional tax credit for teachers to purchase classroom supplies.
The budget is expected to be introduced, voted on, and signed into law in very short order, but as of this report, has not yet been passed. However, many other important bills impacting local school districts were passed in the final week of spring session. Below are a few of those highlighted bills.
Bills Passed Both Houses April 4 – April 7HB 3296 (Ness, D-Carpentersville) requires a school district that enrolls students in grades 6-12 to adopt and implement a postsecondary and career expectations framework.
HB 4126 (Tarver, D-Chicago) for "Invest in Kids" schools, allows students of “Invest in Kids” schools who have been deemed eligible to attend a school to continue to attend that school if the student's eligibility status has not changed. It also allows schools to establish a maximum scholarship amount for admittance and requires any qualified school to report costs, fees, and maximum scholarships to the scholarship granting organization.
HB 4173 (Zalewski, D-Riverside) creates a process to appoint local school board members to serve on the Lyons Township Trustee of Schools board to provide more local input.
HB 4243 (Mason, D-Gurnee) prohibits a school district from withholding a student's grades, transcripts, or diploma because of an unpaid balance on the student's school account.
HB 4256 (McCombie, R-Sterling) allows a school district to waive, for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years only, the evaluation requirement of any teacher whose performance was rated as either "excellent" or “proficient."
HB 4257 (McCombie) for the 2021-2022 school year only, provides that a licensee with an administrative endorsement is not required to complete an Illinois Administrators' Academy course (rather than being required to complete one course).
HB 4326 (Stuart, D-Collinsville) as amended, will allow Regional Offices of Education (ROE), required to distribute funds from the County Sales Tax for School Facilities distribution, to receive 50% of the 2% administration fee the Department of Revenue receives to calculate and distribute the sales tax funds to school districts.
HB 4716 (Halpin, D-Rock Island) requires the State Board of Education, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to adopt rigorous learning standards for the classroom and laboratory phases of driver education.
HB 5193 (Hirschauer, D-West Chicago) provides that the safety education that school boards may provide instruction on includes safe gun storage.
HB 5472 (Yang-Rorh, D-Naperville) provides that during the period between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022, an additional 20 paid days or 100 paid hours shall be added to a provision that authorizes an annuitant to accept employment for a certain number of paid days or paid hours as a teacher without impairing his or her retirement status.
SB 3893 (Joyce, D-Park Forest) provides that a substitute teacher may teach up to 120 (instead of 90) school days for any one licensed teacher under contract in the same school year.
SB 3936 (Sims, D-Chicago) establishes the Safe2HelpIL school safety tip line in Illinois law.