Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed legislation Thursday to raise the minimum salary for teachers in the state to $40,000.
The Democratic governor said the law, which aims to reach the $40,000 salary minimum by the first day of school in 2023, will help address the statewide teacher shortage.
“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 statement about the legislation that will take effect Jan. 1.
“To teachers all across Illinois: I see the care and compassion you put into your work, and I’m proud to help make sure you earn what you’re worth,” he said.
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. pic.twitter.com/7bwVGIiIje— Governor JB Pritzker (@GovPritzker) August 22, 2019
According to Pritzker, the current minimum teacher salary in Illinois ranges from $9,000 to $11,000, and hasn’t been raised “in decades.”
The bill, which state lawmakers passed in June, amends the Illinois School Code to raise a teacher’s minimum salary in increments. School districts will be required to pay full-time teachers a minimum annual salary of $32,076 for the 2020-21 school year, $34,576 for the 2021-22 year, $37,076 for the 2022-23 year and $40,000 starting in the 2023-2024 year.
According to the bill, the minimum salary rate for each school year after 2023-24 is required to equal the previous school year’s rate “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.”
Illinois’ previous governor, Republican Bruce Rauner, vetoed the same bill last year. Rauner’s reason for blocking the legislation was that minimum pay was not an efficient way to compensate teachers in the state, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
There are nearly 4,200 unfilled positions, more than 1,800 of which are teaching positions, in school districts across the state, according to Illinois State Board of Education data from the 2018-19 school year.
The bill’s signing is the latest move in Pritzker’s plan to address Illinois’ teacher shortage and lack of funding in the education system. The governor signed the state budget in June that enacted a $375 million increase in K-12 funding; signed legislation in July extending the eligible employment period by two years for returning teachers in areas facing a shortage; and signed legislation earlier this month getting rid of the requirement that student teachers pass a basic skills test they pay for in order to get an education license, a test supporters said was duplicative and unnecessary.
“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,” state Rep. Katie Stuart (D) said in a statement. “By establishing a new minimum salary for teachers, we are ensuring that teachers know they are valued here in the state of Illinois.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.