Some Illinois lawmakers are on board with a plan to require school boards to pay starting teachers $40,000 a year without providing additional funding for districts.
The Illinois House on Thursday narrowly approved the plan, House Bill 5175, to require local schools to pay new teachers in the state at least $40,000 annually. The vote was 61-38, mostly along party lines, in the House. State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, is driving the plan. He said it's about fairness.
"Let's set a mark that we in this General Assembly are going to try and address the shortage of teachers in Illinois," Hoffman said. "And that we're going to pay them a decent wage."
Hoffman said the average starting teacher salary in Illinois is just over $39,000 a year. Some make more, some make less. The average teacher salary in the state is $64,516, according to the Illinois State Board of Education.
State Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, said local schools pay teachers what the district can afford.
"We are forcing a financial burden on local school districts that cannot afford this," Harris said. "And that is not fair."
The $40,000-a-year plan would require school districts to pay that salary starting in July 2019
Republicans said the salary requirement will lead to school districts pushing local property tax hikes.
State senators will vote on the idea next.