socastcmsRssStartBy Greg Bishop | Illinois News NetworksocastcmsRssEnd
Counties would have more flexibility with sales tax dollars meant for public safety under a bill that has been sent to the Illinois House.
In counties were voters had previously approved tax hikes to fund public safety, the bill would give local officials the ability to use that revenue for other purposes, including to address mental health and substance abuse issues.
Chief Senate sponsor Dave Syverson said the amended House Bill 4560 clarifies how counties can use sales tax increases meant for public safety.
“The original bill there was a concern that it was only related to law enforcement costs and dealing with building criminal justice centers or buying police cars or adding police officers,” Syverson said. “This just clarifies this issue.”
Syverson, R-Rockford, said it’s not new taxes.
“It just gives them the option to have more flexibility in how those sales taxes are used,” he said.
The public safety money the bill frees up will allow counties to focus resources on a major driver of crime, Syverson said.
“A large number of those crime issues are related to either mental illness or drug and alcohol abuse,” he said.
Cosponsor state Sen. Steve Stadelman, D-Rockford, said it will come in hand for his county.
“In Winnebago County, they have been desperately trying to find a revenue stream,” Stadelman said. “This will allow Winnebago County to use county sales tax money which has been diverted for public safety measures and use those for public health and substance abuse programs.”
The Illinois Municipal League, which represents municipalities, has backed the bill.
The measure passed unanimously in the Senate and could be passed onto the governor before lawmakers close up shop later this month.
If passed with a supermajority in the House and approved by the governor, the measure would become law immediately.