State Roundup: Measure requiring more regular pension reviews awaits Governor’s signature

From Illinois News Network

A measure requiring the state’s five public pension funds get reviewed more frequently is headed to the Governor’s desk.

House Bill 422 passed the House in March and earlier this week unanimously passed the Senate.

The measure would require the state’s pension funds, which are severely underfunded, to undergo a full actuarial review every three years instead of five.

In a press release Republican State Senator Michael Connelly said the bill would give taxpayers a truer understanding of the funds’ fiscal situation.

Illinois’ pension funds are underfunded to the tune of $111 billion dollars, which is among the worst in the country.

IDES Director: State won’t realize full recover for another year

Illinois’ unemployment rate held steady at 6 percent for the month of April, but the state’s Director of Employment Security says Illinois’ sluggish recovery means the Land of Lincoln won’t see a return to pre-recession peak employment levels for another year.

The latest employment data released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security shows Illinois added a total 4,800 jobs, but there were combined losses of 3,600 jobs in manufacturing and financial services.

IDES Director Jeff Mays says the sluggish recovery is concerning given more than half the country, including most of Illinois’ neighboring states, have already regained their pre-recession levels.

Illinois’ unemployment rate is higher than the national unemployment rate reported for April.

Charter school lobby day

Several hundred families rallied in multiple areas of the state Thursday to support charter schools in Illinois with a message that they want more school choice.

Thursday was Charter School Lobby Day.

Andrew Broy, President of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, says the group started with a rally in Chicago at Soldier Field early in the morning and then drove to Springfield to talk with their lawmakers.

Broy says there’s one issue in front of the legislature right now that he worries would gut the current state Charter School Commission system.

House Bill 397 would allow local school boards to deny a charter for their area, even if the charter was approved by the state Commission.

Broy says in the past four years there have been 30 applications to the Commission.

The Commission only granted four–something Broy says shows the Commission does a very rigorous job.

“In some respects one would argue maybe too rigorous. But in any event they’re giving a very searching, analytical review of charter applications and only granting charters to the best applications. It’s very high bar. So this notion in Springfield that somehow the Commission is going rouge and just granting all these charter applications just simply is not true.”

Broy also says having the statewide commission of professionals making the determination to grant a charter takes local politics found in school boards out of the equation.

House Bill 397 passed the House last month 60-40 and remains in the Senate Assignments committee.

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