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Illinois Senate passes modified bill to raise teacher pay

Legislation calls for financial review that House version doesn’t include

SPRINGFIELD – A second bill raising the minimum annual salary for Illinois teachers to $40,000 found legislative success this week.

Senate Bill 10, sponsored by Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, passed on a 45-11 vote Thursday afternoon.

It would provide a 5-year ramp to increasing Illinois’ minimum teacher salary, from just more than $32,000 in 2020-21 to $40,000 in the 2023-2024 school year.

The substance of the bill is the same as a House Bill 2078, sponsored by Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, that passed earlier in the week.

Manar’s bill was approved with an amendment the House version did not have, which directs a state review panel to figure out how Illinois’ most underfunded school districts can get extra state aid to comply with the minimum salary law.

The state’s school funding formula must be “slightly adjusted” to make up the difference for the cost of the bill, so that underfunded school districts could pay the minimum salaries, Manar said.

Initial estimates are that “just under” $20 million would have to be added to the funding formula to help the neediest school districts comply with the law, he said.

According to SB10’s amendment, the Professional Review Panel’s recommendations must be made by Jan. 31.

Manar said an ideal timeline is that the recommendations are adopted in time for the governor’s budget proposal in February.

When that budget passes in May 2020, Manar said, the school funding formula will have already kicked out the extra money to underfunded school districts, in time for the start of the school year’s classes in August and September.

“We want to have a more level entry point for teachers across the state,” Manar said of the proposed teacher salaries. “Depending on where you teach, where you live, and which districts have openings, your entry-level salary can fluctuate dramatically.

“A base rate would help reassure college students that when they graduate, they’ll have a decent wage.”

Opponents of SB10 voiced concerns similar to the bill’s House counterpart.

“This is a significant unfunded mandate,” said GOP Sen. Chuck Weaver, of Peoria. “School districts will be forced to lay people off.”

Sen. Kimberly Lightford, a Maywood Democrat, emphasized that the salary increase to $40,000 is not immediate, but phased in over 4 years – and still might not be enough.

“A $40,000 starting salary for a teacher is not a lot of money,” she said. “Yet, it would allow them the decency and respect to raise up our generations to come.”

The state’s current minimum teacher salary law of $10,000 has not changed since the 1980s.

The first salary increase of SB10 – to just more than $32,000 for the 2020-21 school year – is simply that same $10,000 salary adjusted for inflation to the present day, Manar said.

Both teacher salaries bills are headed to the opposite chamber for consideration.

Manar talks daily with Stuart, the House bill’s sponsor, about the legislation, he said.

“I think they both have a very good chance of passing,” he said. “We’re going to get a bill to the governor’s desk, I’m confident in that, and it will be one he can sign into law.”

Editor’s Note: Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit news service operated by the Illinois Press Foundation that provides coverage of state government to newspapers throughout Illinois. The mission of Capitol News Illinois is to provide credible and unbiased coverage of state government to the more than 400 daily and weekly newspapers that are members of the Illinois Press Association.

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