House Passes Landmark Education Reforms.
The Illinois House of Representatives passed the most significant reforms to education in Illinois in over a decade on Thursday, bringing all sides together in support of an initiative that had already won approval from the State Senate. Key components of the reform bill focus on improving teacher performance, cutting down on strikes, and ensuring all students receive a quality education.“Teachers tenure will no longer be based simply on years served, but instead will be based on merit and performance review,” said State Rep. Pam Roth (R-Morris) a former school board President and mother of two. “We should be encouraging and rewarding good teachers, and make it easier for school districts to dismiss bad teachers.”
Senate Bill 7 is the result of months of negotiations between lawmakers, teachers unions, school management, and the State Board of Education. Some of the highlights of SB 7 include:
• Teacher reduction in force (RIF), recall, and the filling of vacant positions will be based on performance before years of relevant experience.
• The teacher dismissal process will be streamlined, giving the final decision-making authority to locally-elected school boards.
• The public will be able to see the final offers between districts and local bargaining units prior to a strike. Mediation will be extended in a final effort to avoid a strike.
• The bill requires training for school board members.
• The bill creates a Survey of Learning Conditions to be administered to teachers, parents, and students every two years.
• Finally, the State Superintendent of Education will have the ability to revoke a teaching certificate when a teacher receives two unsatisfactory evaluations within a seven-year period.
“These reforms are long overdue and a victory for the children of Illinois,” Roth said.
Senate Bill 7 has now gone to Governor Quinn for signature.
House OK's State Budget, Drives Down Spending.
The Illinois House of Representatives approved a bipartisan budget plan on Friday, holding firm to conservative revenue estimates and allocating $2.2 billion less than the Governor’s proposed spending request of $35.4 billion, which relied on higher taxes and borrowing to support.
Friday’s series of budget votes signaled a significant step toward passing the first budget in years that would force the state to live within its means. Republicans and Democrats worked together throughout the process, making a joint commitment to fiscal discipline in laying out a clear budget blueprint.
“It is never easy to make cuts, but the budgets we passed this week will keep our promise to spend no more than our revenue estimate of $33.2 billion,” said State Rep. Pam Roth (R-Morris). “This is the only way we’re ever going to get our bills paid and get our state finances back on track.”
For the past several weeks, members of both parties worked together reviewing the budget line-by-line in committee and listened to testimony from service providers and others in order to make critical decisions about where cuts could be made that would cause the least amount of hardship to those truly in need.
“We started by cutting pay raises and administrative costs wherever possible,” Roth added. “Yet this is not a one year process. If we expect to get out of the hole and put Illinois back on a path to fiscal health and stability over the long term, this is the way we need to approach the budget every year. It is going to take continued discipline to truly change the culture of spending which got us into this mess.”
The budget plan now goes to the State Senate for consideration before being sent to the Governor.
House Approves Roth's First Bill; Aim to Protect Retired Teachers' Health Insurance Funds
The Illinois House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation Wednesday to identify proposed solutions to the funding shortfalls plaguing the state fund allocated for retired’ teachers health insurance costs. The legislation, House Bill 3411, sponsored by State Rep. Pam Roth (R-Morris) requires the Teacher Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP) Committeeto identify and report on proposed solutions to the Governor and General Assembly within six months.
“Today we took an important step to ensure the integrity of our retired teachers’ health insurance,” Roth said. “Both current and future retirees deserve the confidence of knowing the TRIP fund is safe, solvent, and stable for the long-term. If we do not act, the fund will be completely insolvent within two years. Today’s vote brings us one step closer to a solution,” Roth added.
The Fund, which was created in 1995, pays for the administration of the Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP). Money deposited in the Teachers’ Health Insurance Security Fund to support TRIP is generated from contributions by active teachers, retired teachers, school districts, and the General Revenue Fund.
The TRIP Committee is made up of 10 people appointed by the Governor. They were supposed to meet at least 4 times a year but have been negligent in their responsibility to maintain that schedule. The TRIP Committee met twice in March 2010 and concluded that the TRIP fund was becoming insolvent and would run out of funds in two years.
Roth’s legislation is designed to create a pathway for the TRIP fund to reestablish solvency and set itself on course for long-term fiscal stability. HB 3411 now moves to the Senate for consideration. The legislation is also Rep. Roth’s first bill to be approved by the House.