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Teacher compensation bill with possible $68 million taxpayer advances – Illinois

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(The Center Square) – As Illinois grapples with a potential $800 million budget shortfall, a measure that could have a taxpayer price tag of another $68 million for student teacher stipends is headed to the Senate.

State Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, carried House Bill 4652 out of the House on Tuesday.

“This would allow students to receive $10,000 (per semester) and cooperating faculty to receive $2,000,” she said. “Money must also be allocated for this, but as we all know we have a shortage of teachers.”

State Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, supported the idea but warned that the measure being subject to appropriation is an empty promise.

“All I can say is that you can’t have everything. You can ask, but taxpayers can’t afford it,” Crespo said. “If we keep this up, at some point you will no longer have tax dollars to spend.”

Last week, Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration told state agencies to prepare for $800 million in budget cuts if lawmakers don’t approve nearly $1 billion in tax increases.

The measure would apply only to student teachers in public schools and could affect nearly 5,000 educators at a total cost of $68 million if the program is fully funded.

State Rep. Laura Faver Dias, D-Chicago, rose in support of the measure.

“Low-income teachers have difficulty completing their pre-service teacher training and even drop out and never receive their teacher license because they cannot afford to work 16 weeks without pay,” she said.

State Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City, opposed the bill, saying there are labor shortages in more sectors than just education. He said if the bill is an initiative of the teachers unions, the teachers unions should be able to fund an internship program.

“The teachers unions in particular have a lot of money that they are more than willing to throw into political races,” Wilhour says. “They should be able to do more than just this.”

Wilhour said that with the money the teachers unions spent on him during his recent primary, they could have funded dozens of stipends.

As approved, the measure is subject to appropriation. It passed 85-23.