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House allows schools to skip new unfunded mandates

House allows schools to skip new unfunded mandates

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SPRINGFIELD — Under legislation approved Thursday, local schools wouldn’t have to implement some new rules made by the state unless the state also sends money to pay for the changes.

State Rep. Roger Eddy, a Hutsonville Republican and school superintendent, argued that local schools feel budget pain when being asked to pay for new state rules year after year.

If the state doesn’t send more money, local schools have to collect more property taxes to cover state mandates, Eddy said.

“What happens now is we pass it down and it becomes a de facto tax increase,” Eddy said.

The Illinois House approved the plan Thursday, and it now will move to the Senate.

It comes against the backdrop of a state budget crunch that has led to a massive backlog of bills. School districts across the state have been voting to lay off teachers in recent weeks because of the uncertainty of state funding.

The proposed law wouldn’t affect state mandates that have been approved in past years. School boards could only opt out of new ones, and only after they hold a hearing and prove the state hasn’t paid for the new rule.

Critics argued that the state shouldn’t be prevented from turning good ideas into requirements for local schools. And one lawmaker noted that future laws could be written to get around Eddy’s plan.

The legislation is House Bill 4711 and was approved by a 103-7 vote.

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