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Legislative Update

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Governor: Tony Knowles (D)

FY 1996 state budget: $2.34 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $660.3 million FY 1995 K-12 budget: $642.8 million

Percent change K-12 budget: +2.7 percent


Governor is likely to sign a bill authorizing a pilot charter-school program to establish up to 30 schools. Other charter-school proposals had failed in the legislature under previous administrations.
Legislature granted Governor's request for K-12 funding that will cover an anticipated 2 percent enrollment increase, rejecting some lawmakers' proposals to level-fund basic state school aid.
Under Governor's direction, commissioner of education has appointed an 18-member panel to recommend possible changes in the state school-funding formula for future legislative sessions.
Legislature is expected to send Governor a tenure-reform bill that would give districts the option of offering teachers and other employees early-retirement incentives in the 1996-97 school year.


Governor: Jim Edgar (R)

FY 1996 state budget: $16.4 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $3.88 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $3.66 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +6 percent


Legislature enacted a law overhauling Chicago school governance, giving the city's mayor the power to appoint a five-member "superboard" and chief executive officer for the district. The law, signed by Mr. Edgar last month, increases flexibility of state appropriations to the district while making the mayor and the new board responsible for setting the district budget. No new money, though, was approved for Chicago schools, which face an estimated $150 million shortfall next year.
Governor also signed a measure allowing districts to request waivers of parts of the state school code. Only the legislature would have authority to turn down their requests.
Legislature passed a bill designed to bail out the underfunded health-insurance fund for retired Illinois teachers. As of last week, Mr. Edgar had not signed the bill, which would require active teachers to contribute one half of 1 percent of their salaries, which the state would match. A federal court had ordered the state to end its practice of paying health-insurance premiums with teacher-pension funds.

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