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Capitol Briefs: House OKs program for student teacher stipends – but not the funding for it

Capitol Briefs: House OKs program for student teacher stipends – but not the funding for it

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House approved a bill Tuesday to allow student teachers to receive stipends while earning their education degree, even though the money needed to fund those stipends is unlikely to be included in next year’s budget.

House Bill 4652, by Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, authorizes the Illinois Board of Higher Education to disburse stipends of $10,000 per semester to student teachers working in public schools. That’s the rough equivalent of $15 an hour, based on a standard 40-hour work week. It also authorizes stipends of $2,000 per semester to the teachers who supervise them.

But the authority to disburse those funds would be subject to appropriations. And with an estimated annual cost of $68 million to fully fund the program, Hernandez conceded it is unlikely such funding will be included in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year that lawmakers are currently negotiating.

“I do not think so, unfortunately,” she said during debate on the House floor.

The proposal is an initiative of the Illinois Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, and the advocacy group Advance Illinois. They argued in committee hearings that the lack of compensation for student teachers deters many prospective teachers from completing their degrees, adding to the state’s ongoing teacher shortage.

Read more: Capitol Briefs: Chicago school board, student teacher pay, local food measures all advance in Springfield

The bill passed the House with bipartisan support, 85-23. But it also drew criticism from some who said the General Assembly spends too much time authorizing programs it can’t afford to fund.

“Here we go again, folks. We’re passing bills that are subject to appropriations,” said Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates. “I get the sense that we think it’s like Monopoly money. But you’re creating a line item and you’re putting pressure on the budget. It’s an empty promise that gives people a false sense of hope.”

The bill next goes to the Senate for consideration.

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