Bill calculating cost of unfunded mandates on local governments passes General Assembly

SPRINGFIELD – Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti applauded the General Assembly for passing a bill that requires the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to publish cost estimates unfunded mandates will have on local governments.

SB 2066 passed the House 99-12-2 and the Senate 51-0-0 and will be sent to the governor.

As part of the Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force chaired by the lieutenant governor, local government associations — including the Illinois Municipal League and the Illinois Association of School Boards — documented substantial growth in the number of unfunded state mandates restricting local control of local government activities over the years.

The Illinois Municipal League identified more than 266 new unfunded state mandates imposed on their members since 1982. And, the Illinois Association of School Boards documented the enactment of more than 145 state mandates imposed on schools since 1992.

Currently, legislators and the public have very little data on how much unfunded state mandates on local governments cost the taxpayers. SB2066 requires DCEO to calculate that cost.

Unfunded mandates are state or federal legislation that obliges local governments to comply with mandates without providing them with the funds to fulfill the requirements.

“Illinois residents pay the highest property taxes in the nation. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that we have the most units of government, and an ever-increasing number of state unfunded mandates,” Sanguinetti said. “By requiring DCEO to publish the true local cost of unfunded mandates, local residents and elected officials will finally be empowered to eliminate unnecessary and costly Springfield mandates.”

“Unfunded mandates drive up the cost of government and it is the taxpayer who usually ends up footing the bill,” said Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard, one of the sponsors of the bill. “SB2066 is good transparency legislation that will shine an important light on how unfunded mandates are increasing costs at DCEO on local governments. Hopefully, if lawmakers can see how these costs add up over time, they will take pause before passing along unfunded mandates in the future.”

Sen. Dale Righter, R-Springfield, also a sponsor, added: “Unfunded mandates are costing local taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said. “This legislation is a small step toward bringing more efficiency and accountability to how taxpayer dollars are being spent on unfunded mandates at the local government and school district level. Mandate relief is the critical next step if we’re serious about respecting taxpayer dollars.”

Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, was also a sponsor.

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