Northern Illinois Educational Retailers Association (NIERA) Fall Meeting

Today I attended the fall meeting for the Northern Illinois Educational Retailers Association (NIERA). Our guest speaker was Mr. Gabriel Lopez, a lobbyist and government relations specialist for the State of Illinois.

What does that mean to teachers? Mr. Lopez’s job is to impact public policy (read: increase funding for education). Mr. Lopez provided us with the dismal Sate of the State Address, as well as provided us with insight to the fiscal year 2010 budget proposals and a few silver linings.

For FY09, Illinois has roughly a $60B budget. Their $1.8B deficit (read: unpaid bills) is one of the highest in the U.S. FY09 is a No Growth Budget – no growth and no cuts – basically treading water for 12 months and hoping not to drown. Not too positive.

A potentially bright spot is for the fiscal year 2010. The State has approved a bill to lease out the Lottery. This is a new funding stream expected to generate $10B for capital construction projects (i.e. new school construction, school repairs and upgrades, road repair, etc.).

There are also talks of increasing the state’s income tax in exchange for discounts given on property taxes. While there are process-slowing politics surrounding this bill (the Gubernatorial Election is in 2010), many see this as a positive revenue addition that will increase budgets in the coming years.

So what is the moral of the story? Buy more school supplies online at! Kidding!! Plan your classroom and school needs around a budget equal to or less than this year’s allocation. We will not see increased budgets for a few fiscal years to come.

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