Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill last weekend that would have raised the minimum salary for Illinois public school teachers to $40,000 by 2022. In his veto message, Rauner wrote that legislation isn’t the best way to raise teacher pay.
Rauner wrote that he was concerned such a measure would limit local control and burden districts with an unfunded mandate. The legislation does not provide any additional funding for teacher salaries.
Jim Reed, government relations director for the Illinois Education Association, disagrees. The IEA crafted the teacher legislation, he said, after several years of study. The measure was introduced as a means to combat the state's teacher shortage. Reed said Illinois's new school funding formula would help districts pay for the salary increases.
"It would provide additional funding for school districts to be able to plan and to manage finances to get their staff up to what we believe is certainly a minimum salary for what they’re worth," Reed said.
The IEA estimates that only about 7,700 teachers in Illinois would be directly impacted by the legislation. The union represents roughly 135,000 educators. Reed says most of the affected teachers work in districts in central and southern Illinois. Reed notes that those areas are also home to districts that benefit the most from the new funding formula and suffer the brunt of the teacher shortage.
In his veto message, Rauner encouraged local districts to offer pay incentives for teachers in hard to staff schools or subject areas, among other measures, as a means to attract qualified educators to their area.
But Reed said local efforts alone won't turn around the state’s teacher shortage.
He describes the shortage as a "crisis."
“And you don’t address that by sort of sitting back on your hands and letting districts decide over months or over years what kind of incentives they can provide," Reed said.
Reed said the IEA will consult with lawmakers to see if there’s enough support to override the veto.