STATE LEGISLATIVE ISSUES
Protecting Municipal Revenue
The Members of the Southwest Conference of Mayors strongly urge for the protection against any further efforts to erode municipal revenue sources, especially the local share of the state income tax and the one percent local portion of the sales tax. The current economy and recent fee increases and revenue diversions by the State have amplified this situation. The State must refrain from withholding, freezing, diverting, delaying or reducing any State-collected local revenue streams. If local revenue is withheld in any way, municipalities will be forced to cut essential services, raise property taxes or layoff critical staff to cover this loss, all to the detriment of the taxpaying residents and businesses throughout the State. The Southwest Conference of Mayors urge for the protection of local governments from any additional revenue loss and the restoration of any previously diverted revenues.
The Southwest Conference of Mayors encourages the General Assembly to address and reform the pensions of current public safety employees. The goal should be to develop long term, comprehensive solutions that protect local taxpayers and secure sustainable retirement benefits for all public safety employees. The Members of the Southwest Conference of Mayors urge the Illinois General Assembly to take immediate and constitutional action to consolidate the over 660 individual public safety pension funds into the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). This would increase investment returns which would reduce the burden on taxpayers, realize economics of scale not currently available - which will also reduce the burden on
taxpayers and provide a more stable environment for the pensions of all public safety employees. The Members of the SCM strongly support the efforts of the Pension Fairness for Illinois Communities Coalition.
Prevailing Wage Act Reform
The General Assembly should reform the Prevailing Wage Act so that it reduces the impact on the local taxpayers. The Prevailing Wage Act has served to increase the cost of public works related projects oftentimes with no clear measureable benefit to the taxpayers. The Prevailing Wage Act replaces unfettered competition by imposing artificial floor on labor costs. By exempting activities such as landscaping or driving a delivery truck from the Prevailing Wage Act will save taxpayers money without jeopardizing the work. The General Assembly should reject further expansion of this law through the imposition of a Responsible Bidder requirement in the Prevailing Wage Act.
Amend the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act (PSEBA)
Adequately providing for public safety employees injured in the line of duty is a vital responsibility of local governments; however, the current definition of “catastrophic injury” has led to unreasonable rulings under the PSEBA. The federal definition of “catastrophic injury” should be adopted to ensure that taxpayers are no longer needlessly overcharged.
The Southwest Conference of Mayors opposes any legislation that creates unfunded mandates for municipal governments. The Southwest Conference of Mayors oppose any attempts to reduce the State's share of funds currently provided for programs such as schools, roads, transit, parks, stormwater and other public infrastructure. The reduction in municipal revenues as a result of income tax credits, exemptions and property tax assessment freezes imposed by the State place a financial burden upon local governments seeking to provide local services. The SCM urges the Illinois General Assembly to pass a constitutional amendment requiring a super-majority vote of the General Assembly to pass any legislation creating unfunded State mandates.
Municipal governments are in a unique position to best know the needs of their residents, businesses and community; therefore, decision-making on all local issues should rest solely with municipal governments. The General Assembly must reject any legislation that will erode local decision-making authority.
Home Rule / Non-Home Rule Distinction
The SCM urges the Illinois General Assembly to recognize the ability of all municipalities to govern themselves, regardless of population. Home Rule municipalities have extensive flexibility in their everyday operation, while Non-Home Rule municipalities are limited in their ability to generate revenue and to exercise other authorities. Like Home Rule municipalities, Non-Home Rule municipalities need options to be able to provide essential local services and incentives for economic development. Municipalities would benefit from the removal of the distinction between Home Rule and Non-Home Rule municipalities.
School Funding Reform
The public school funding system needs to be reformed to fulfill the State's responsibility to provide an acceptable basic education and long-term funding equity with lessened reliance on local revenue. The SCM supports school funding reform legislation that identifies expectations, ascertain costs to meet them, generates and distributes adequate funds fairly and efficiently, and periodically evaluates the system's performance. The SCM believes that property tax relief and fiscal and performance accountability measures need to be a part of any reform package.
The Southwest Conference of Mayors opposes any legislation that attempts to eliminate local decision making authority regarding personnel issues. The Southwest Conference of Mayors opposes any non-negotiated attempts to increase pension benefits for municipal employees.
Preserve TIF Districts as a Viable Economic Development Tool for Municipalities
Tax Increment Finance Districts (TIFs) are a necessary tool for communities to revitalize neighborhoods while creating economic development opportunities and improving the quality of life for its residents. The Southwest Conference of Mayors encourages the General Assembly to preserve TIF Districts as an economic development tool for municipalities while not imposing any further restrictions on the use of TIF Districts.
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Funding
Secure a stable and dedicated funding source for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). The legislation creating CMAP called for the agency to produce a comprehensive land use and transportation plan for our region and a dedicated funding source to enable CMAP to perform its duties; the budget implementation bill dissolved this funding. This issue needs to be addressed to ensure that CMAP has a stable, dedicated funding source to effectively implement the comprehensive vision of Go To 2050 and so that CMAP can effectively and efficiently perform the tasks dictated in the legislation that created the agency. The Southwest Conference of Mayors supports the passage of H.B. 6286 and S.B. 2966 – both bills seek to re-establish the Comprehensive Regional Planning Fund, which was dissolved in State FY 11. CMAP used its share of the Fund, $3.5 million, to match the region’s federal planning dollars and achieve its mandate for comprehensive regional planning.