SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois House approved a temporary plan Wednesday to get paychecks to regional school superintendents five months after Gov. Pat Quinn eliminated money for their salaries.
The measure, which was approved 74-36, would dip into a stream of tax money that now goes to local governments. A tiny fraction of that money would pay the school chiefs just through June. It also establishes a commission to determine the best way to deliver services the superintendents currently carry out.
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"It's a one-year fix, at a lower cost, with an examination of what to do with the offices in the future," said Rep. Frank Mautino, a Spring Valley Democrat, whose proposal with a higher price tag failed two weeks ago. "This will right a wrong, an injustice, and we need to do that now."
Superintendents and assistants in 44 regional education offices for decades have issued certificates to teachers and bus drivers, inspected schools, run high school equivalency degree programs and services for truant and troubled kids, among other activities.
But Quinn said in July the state couldn't afford the approximately $12 million to pay them and that local officials should decide whether to keep and pay them.
That left most of the school officials, who are elected by voters, working more than four months without a paycheck. Some have quit.
Bob Daiber, a regional superintendent in the St. Louis area and president of the group's statewide association, was pleased with the vote.
"We will continue to educate legislators on the need to resolve this issue now and will hope for a favorable result from the state Senate," Daiber said.
Several lawmakers urged their colleagues to reject the measure because the Democratic governor didn't suggest any alternative plans for the regional services before slashing the budget.
"I don't know how many times we have to clean up the governor's messes," said Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo.
Opponents argued against using the personal property tax replacement funds, which are distributed to local governments and used for other purposes.
Quinn would sign the bill, which now moves to the Senate, a spokeswoman said.
The measure needed 71 votes because it would take effect immediately. A first vote Wednesday failed 70-43, but a lawmaker used a parliamentary move to call for a new vote on the bill, which then passed.