By CARL GREEN
Springfield, IL – The effort to create a higher new minimum salary for Illinois public school teachers is on again, with better prospects under a Democratic governor.
The current minimum salary of $10,000 was set in 1980. Inflation alone should push the amount up to $32,000, said Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), sponsor of the current bill, which would phase in a $40,000 minimum over four years.
Manar’s similar bill last year passed the Legislature with bipartisan support but was vetoed by former governor Bruce Rauner. It was opposed by some rural districts that said they couldn’t afford it; supporters said it was needed to attract young people into teaching at a time when some schools can’t find teacher candidates.
His new Senate Bill 10 was approved in the Senate Education Committee last week. It would phase in the increase over four years, to:
• $32,076 for the 2020-21 school year.
• $34,576 for 2021-22.
• $37,076 for 2022-23.
• $40,000 for 2023-24.
After the four years, the minimum would be adjusted annually according to the Consumer Price Index, subject to review by the Legislature.
“This is where the rubber meets the road,” Manar said. “Do we want to attract talented young teachers to Illinois, or do we want to watch them put down professional roots in other states? A $10,000 minimum wage set in statute absolutely sends the wrong message about the value we place on the teaching profession in Illinois.”
The bill starts out with six co-sponsors in the Senate, including two from southern Illinois – Rachelle Aud Crowe (D-Wood River) and Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg). Fowler is the only Republican to sign on as of yet.
Said Manar: “This proposal acknowledges that if we want the best and brightest young people to join the teaching ranks in Illinois, we have to give them some level of guarantee that they’re going to earn a decent wage and be able to support their families.