Hundreds of Bills Move out of CommitteesIllinois General Assembly passed hundreds of bills out of committees to keep the legislative process moving. While many of these bills are not in their final form and still need significant work, both chambers of the General Assembly set a deadline for passage of bills out of committees by March 10. IASB highlighted several bills that were top priorities in a “Call to Action” on March 7. Thank you to all who responded and made your voice heard in the Capitol.
All bills that were covered in the “Call to Action” passed their respective committees. House Bill 3442 (Crespo, D- Streamwood), which will provide additional days for a substitute teacher to be in the same classroom, was passed unanimously by the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Administration, Licensing & Charter Schools Committee. In the Senate, the Education Committee passed SB 2236 (Cappel, D-Crest Hill) which would repeal the end date of June 30, 2023 to the short-term substitute teacher training program, as well as remove certain licensing fees. HB 3442 and SB 2236 are not fixes to the teacher shortage but would give districts more avenues to make sure students have a teacher in every classroom.
Another bill supported by IASB that passed the Senate Education committee is Senate Bill 2374 (Lightford, D-Hillside). SB 2374 would establish a competitive grant program to support the development or enhancement of computer science programs in K-12 schools. Governor JB Pritzker’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposal includes $3 million for computer science education investments to promote equitable access to coursework.
Along with the bills that will make a positive impact on Illinois school districts, there were several bills that have the potential to negatively impact Illinois schools. Senate Bill 1994 (Cappel) would require school districts to submit quarterly to the State Board of Education a report that includes the amount of funds the district has in reserves, the amount in reserves, and the number of days the district has cash on hand. It also forces any school district or school board reporting more than 250 days cash on hand to spend any excess cash on hand funds beyond the 250 days on educational services, including hiring teachers, paraprofessionals, nurses, librarians, social workers, counselors, or psychologists. While the bill did pass the Senate Education committee, the sponsor has been working with IASB and our school management partners to find a reasonable solution.
The House Labor Committee passed House Bill 2784 (Hirschauer, D-West Chicago) which would create a new $20 an hour minimum wage for school district employees who provide educational support services starting in the 2024-2025 school year. The statewide fiscal impact would be half a billion dollars in early estimates. While school districts want to provide strong wages for employees, without the revenues to support a new minimum wage from the State of Illinois, school districts will have to resort to cuts to programing and property tax increases. While the bill did pass committee, the sponsor has committed to continuing to work on the bill. We would encourage you to talk about the impact this would have on your district with your members of the Illinois House of Representatives.
Another bill we did not cover in our earlier “Call to Action” but that is important to note is House Bill 2287 (Moylan, D-Des Plaines). HB 2287 would ban the sale of traditional diesel school buses in the State of Illinois on January 1, 2028, and it would ban the use of non-electric school buses on January 1, 2035. Once again, IASB has been in negotiations with the advocates for the bill. As with any new mandate, one of the biggest hurdles is funding. A similar bill was passed in New York State last year and the New York State Assembly provided $500 million to fund the transition to electric buses.