By CARL GREEN
Springfield, IL – A plan to phase in increases to Illinois minimum teacher salaries has passed the Senate and is now before the House. It includes four annual increases, reaching $40,000 for the 2022-23 school year.
The House has passed a separate bill that would make the increase all at once, as of July 1, 2019.
The point of both bills is to address the state’s teacher shortage and make teaching in Illinois more attractive by raising deficient salary levels. The minimum salary has been $10,000 for 38 years, but inflation would have boosted that to $32,000.
“This inability to fill teaching positions isn’t a new problem, but it has grown into a full-blown crisis,” said Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. “If we’re going to recruit more teachers into the profession, we must guarantee a livable wage.”
Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) a member of the Senate Education Committee, sponsored the Senate bill and added an amendment to include the phase-in schedule.
“Is a full-time teacher worth $40,000 a year?” he said. “That’s the question this bill proposes, and I believe the answer is an emphatic ‘Yes.’ ”
In the bill, the rate would be raised in four straight years and then would be increased according to the Consumer Price Index, subject to General Assembly review. The phase-in amounts would be:
• $32,076 for 2019-2020.
• $34,576 for 2020-2021.
• $37,076 for 2021-2022.
• $40,000 for 2022-2023.
“There are teachers in the Senate district I represent who live below the federal poverty level today – that’s a fact, and it’s happening all over Illinois,” Manar said. “Yet we continue to ask teachers to do more with less, to cure the ills of society and to give away more of the pensions they’ve earned.
“We have chipped away at this over time, and if we don’t guarantee a decent salary for college graduates, we’re not going to get young people to go into this profession in the first place.”
The proposal, Senate Bill 2892, passed the Senate 37-16, with 33 Democrats and four Republicans voting for it and 16 Republicans voting against it. All of southern Illinois’ Democratic senators voted for it, as did two Republicans, Dale Fowler of Harrisburg, who signed on as a sponsor, and Sam McCann of Plainview, who is seeking to run for governor representing the Conservative Party.