Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed legislation Thursday that would raise the minimum salary a teacher can earn in the state to $40,000 by the first day of school in 2023.
“As Illinois children head back to school this week and next, this new law says to them and their parents loud and clear: we value teachers,” Pritzker said in a series of tweets.
In the years following, the minimum salary will rise based on the Consumer Price Index, subject to review by the General Assembly. The bill, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2020, is an effort by Illinois to reduce the teacher shortage across the state and revitalize the state’s education system after years of disinvestment.
Thursday’s action followed a number of education bills signed this summer.
In the state budget signed into law on June 6, Gov. Pritzker enacted a historic $375 million increase in K-12 funding. On June 28, he signed the Rebuild Illinois capital plan investing more than half a billion dollars in preK-12 projects and $420 million into statewide broadband expansion, including an expanded Illinois Century Network, to connect schools to high-speed internet.
According to the Illinois State Board of Education data, there are 1,848 unfilled teaching positions in school districts across the state.
“This is a long-needed change and I’m glad to see that both sides of the aisle came forward to support this legislation,” said state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill. “We’re showing that we value teachers in Illinois and that’s going to go a long way toward attracting qualified teachers in Illinois and convincing young people to consider a career in education.”
State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, said the bill ensures teachers know they are valued.
“Time and time again, I hear that teaching is one of the most important professions in our state. But we have not seen that reflected in how teachers are paid,” she said. “Establishing a new minimum salary for teachers will help to fill some of those open positions and shows that Illinois has gotten on the right track to invest in our educators and our education system.”
Under H.B. 2078, the Illinois School Code would be amended to raise the minimum salary a teacher can earn in the state incrementally over the next several years.
School districts would be required to pay full-time teachers a minimum salary of $32,076 for the 2020-2021 school year, $34,576 for the 2021-2022 school year, $37,076 for the 2022-2023 school year and $40,000 for the 2023-2024 school year.
A synopsis of the bill notes that the minimum salary rate for each school year thereafter “shall equal the minimum salary rate for the previous school year increased by a percentage equal to the percentage increase, if any, in the Consumer Price Index For All Urban Consumers for all items published by the United States Department of Labor for the previous school year.”
Prior to the law’s passage, the minimum salary a teacher could earn with a bachelor’s degree in the state was $10,000 annually. Teachers with master’s degrees reportedly could earn a minimum salary of $11,000.
The bill’s enactment reportedly marks the first time the school code has been amended to update the minimum salary requirements for teachers since 1980.
The news follows another bill Pritzker signed into law earlier this year that aims to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.