From State Rep. Steve Reick:
Putting the Brakes on Unfunded Mandates
The biggest issue in the past election was the out-of-control property taxes that are driving businesses and residents out of McHenry County and out of Illinois. I ran on a promise that I’d do my best to bring down that property tax burden by focusing on changing the way the state pays for education.
While the Governor’s bipartisan task force moves to turn its framework report issued last week into legislation, I’ve looked at other ways in which we can begin to bend the cost curve of education downward.
Unfunded mandates are one of the biggest drivers of increased property taxes in McHenry County. The practice of imposing regulations and programs upon our school systems without providing the funding to pay for it, thus putting the burden upon local property owners has gone on long enough.
One of the first bills I sponsored in Springfield is H.B. 378. It’s a bill that was proposed in the last session of the General Assembly but failed to make it out of the Rules Committee, where good legislation often goes to die. I picked it up and resubmitted it for consideration in this session.
In its simplest terms, it’s a bill that provides that if a rule is proposed under the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act, then any interested party may request a ruling as to whether the rule is a “State Mandate”. If the rule is found to be a State Mandate, then all of the time periods for objecting shall be tolled, and no “Certificate of No Objection” may be issued (clearing the way for implementation) until the rule has been approved by a joint resolution of the General Assembly.
My bill does not stop the Illinois State Board of Elections from proposing and implementing new rules and policies, but it will give taxpayers the opportunity to fully assess their cost and push back against their implementation.
Furthermore, the requirement of a joint resolution places political accountability upon the General Assembly to raise taxes through an unfunded mandate instead of passing it off to unelected members of a state commission or agency. We’ve seen too many instances of Federal agencies such as the EPA imposing costly restrictions upon businesses and individuals, while Congress hides behind a wall of unaccountability. This bill short-circuits that process for state mandates on schools.
What I hope to accomplish with this H.B. 378 is to reduce the burden of unfunded mandates by placing the political cost upon those who have to stand in front of the voters every 2 or 4 years. I’m not optimistic for its passage; after all, it puts politicians into a position of having to take ownership of something that may cost them votes, not to mention the fact that the Speaker controls what bills ultimately make it to a vote on the House floor. But those aren’t good enough reasons to not give it a try.