ICCTA Action Alert
March 13, 2000

The Illinois General Assembly has completed half of the spring legislative session. This generally means that House bills (bills filed in the House) that have passed the House are now in the Senate for consideration. Senate bills (bills filed in the Senate) that have passed the Senate are now in the House for consideration. The legislature is not in session this week and will return to Springfield on Wednesday, March 22, the day after the general primary elections. The General Assembly is scheduled to be in session four more weeks until the scheduled adjournment date of April 14.

FY 2001 Budget and Tax Relief
The FY 2001 community college budget has been before Appropriations committees in both the Senate and House. Dr, Joe Cipfl, president of the Illinois Community College Board, testified before both committees in support of Gov. George Ryan's budget, which would provide community colleges with a 6.2% increase in state support in the next fiscal year.

There are developing initiatives in the General Assembly, however, to provide general TAX RELIEF or TAX REFUNDS to the citizens of Illinois this fall. If a plan emerges to provide tax refunds or relief, it is probable that the Governor's budget will be reduced to fund the measure. The result could mean up to a $29 million reduction in the Governor's increase for higher education.

Although tax relief is a laudable goal, ICCTA strongly OPPOSES any reductions in Gov. Ryan's budget recommendations for FY 2001. Community colleges are dependent on two primary sources of tax revenue -- state income tax and local property tax. The proposed budget cuts are targeted for income tax relief but would force greater dependency on local property taxes. This will be aggravated if lawmakers do not provide revenue from state resources to tackle local education needs.

Bills of Interest to Community Colleges

Transfer of Adult Education to ICCB (House Bill 4266 -- Ryder)
House Bill 4266 would transfer all of ISBE's powers and duties concerning adult education to ICCB on July 1, 2001. ICCB would then be allowed to enter into contracts with eligible providers; to accept federal funds for adult education and adult literacy; to administer a network of providers, programs, and services to provide adult basic education, adult secondary/general education development, English as a second language, and other instruction; and to supervise the administration of adult education and adult literacy programs. HB 4266 unanimously passed out of the Senate Education Committee and is positioned for a final vote in the Senate.

#911 Number/Location Identification (Senate Bill 1400 -- Klemm)
SB 1400 would delay until June 30, 2001 when telephone switchboard services must be connected to the public switched network in a manner that calls to "911" result in automatic number and location identification. Current law mandates June 30, 2000 as the deadline. SB 1400 passed out of the House Public Utilities Committee and is positioned for a final vote in the House.

MAP Grant Increase (SB 1538 -- Watson)
This legislation increases the maximum Monetary Award Program grant for full-time students by $210 (from $4,530 to $4,740). Community college students cannot access these higher grant amounts because community colleges do not charge tuition rates that are high enough to qualify students for the higher grants. SB 1400 unanimously passed out of the House Higher Education Committee and is positioned for a final vote in the House.

Illinois Career Scholarships (HB 4265 -- Wirsing)
HB 4265 creates the Illinois Career Scholarship program, administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, to provide high school students not seeking baccalaureate degrees with a non-need-based, non-renewable $1,000 incentive to pursue alternative postsecondary training in occupational programs certified by the Illinois Workforce Investment Board, the Illinois Community College Board, the Illinois State Board of Education, or the Illinois Board of Higher Education. HB 4265 passed out of the House and was sent to the Senate for further consideration.

Elimination of IBHE Site Approval for Opportunities Fund Projects
(HB 3993 -- Wirsing)
HB 3993 would change the purposes for which expenditures and distributions from the AFDC Opportunities Fund shall be made to ICCB. It removes the requirement that the board of a community college district have IBHE's prior approval before entering into an installment loan arrangement with a financial institution to borrow money to buy sites and to buy or build and equip buildings and improvements. HB 3993 passed out of the House and was sent to the Senate for further consideration.

Quern Information Technology Grants (SB 1444 -- Dillard)
SB 1444 would provide up to $2,500 per need-based grant for retraining in information technology fields. The scholarships would be named Arthur F. Quern Technology Grants after the former chair of the IBHE. SB 1444 is scheduled for hearing in the House.

Dissection Alternatives Act (HB 3254 -- Gash)
Under this legislation, schools may excuse a student from performing or observing dissection and may allow the student to instead perform an alternative project; it also provides that the student may not be penalized for refusing to participate in or observe dissection. ICCTA generally opposes efforts by the General Assembly to mandate higher education curriculum. HB 3254 is in the Senate Rules Committee with no action scheduled.

Free Tuition for "B" Students (HB 3831 -- Lang)
/This bill creates the State University Scholarship Act, which would allow scholarships to be awarded to entering freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors at public community colleges and universities when the student maintains a "B" average. The scholarship -- which is subject to the amounts appropriated by the General Assembly -- would include tuition and mandatory fees. HB 3831 is in the Senate Rules Committee with no action scheduled.

For additional information on state legislative issues, contact ICCTA at 1-800-454-2282.

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