Bill (HB5062) was voted on Tuesday in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Curriculum and Policies committee chaired by Rep. Crespo.
Manufacturing Renaissance sent a team of people prepared to testify including David Robinson, Erica Staley, former Sen. Alice Palmer, Rev. Anthony Haynes, YMA member Richard Eames, former Harvey mayor David Johnson, Al Penn and Elbert Shaw for R.O.C.C. south suburban policy think tank.
Rep. Flowers has fully embraced our program and she is leveraging her position as the third most senior member of the house (behind Madigan and the retiring Barbara Flynn Currie) and favorite of Speaker Madigan, to push the bill forward. She is a force and her goal isn't simply to bring attention to the skills gap issue and our program, but to actually pass the bill with full funding.
Chairman Crespo, who initially was opposed to the bill, opened the testimony declaring his support for the bill and requested to be added on as a co-sponsor. He said he believed this is one of the most important bills coming up for debate this year. He noted that there were 62 witness slips in support of the bill and one opponent--the Illinois Board of Education.
Rep. Flowers opened the testimony with a powerful call for support declaring that it is the constitutional responsibility of the Illinois Board of Education to support and fund this bill. She explained that the language in the current statutes needs to reflect the change from vocational education to advanced skills technology. She argued that manufacturing has changed, and the current language and funding is inadequate to help support manufacturers' needs and to provide access to training for people in the community.
Sen. Palmer followed with remarks about how this is an Illinois bill and implied that this should not be viewed in the context of partisan politics. She stressed the value to industry, communities and the state economy.
After Palmer's statement, several Representatives voiced their strong support for the bill. Four of the representatives (two democrats and two republicans) voiced their concerns about how such a bill would be funded and had questions about the wrap around social social services provisions in the bill.
The legislative representative from the Illinois Board of Education was called to provide testimony on why they opposed the bill. The representative said they weren't sure that they could fund the bill and were uncomfortable with 'mandate' language. Rep. Flowers repeatedly asked her if she was aware that it was their responsibility to fund such bills.
After short debate and agreement that this bill is very important, it was passed with only one dissenting vote directly into the full house for a second reading and short debate.
It was a resounding victory.