UPDATE: Illinois Review reader Ryan McCrady asked a question via our Facebook page and we posed it to Rep. McSweeney: Would this [bill] also apply to the General Assembly members or will they be exempted like the Open Meetings Act?
Rep. McSweeney said this particular proposal is focused on lowering local property taxes, so it would apply only to local governments. Already, members of the Illinois General Assembly are restricted from being reimbursed for entertainment expenses, and meals and lodging when the lawmakers are in session are covered with their per diem allotments.
"However, I would be supportive of further restrictions on state lawmakers that would save taxpayer dollars," McSweeney said. "That's the goal for these efforts."
SPRINGFIELD – State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) has proposed legislation to eliminate the use of taxpayer funds for entertainment costs and to shed more light on the travel and meal costs that local governments incur.
“The purpose of this legislation is to create more transparency in local governments in terms of how taxpayer funds are being used for travel reimbursements,” McSweeney said. “My legislation would ban entertainment costs. I think we can all agree taxpayers should not be footing the bill for local government officials to see movies, concerts, or live theater shows.”
House Bill 4379 not only bans local governments from spending funds on entertainment expenses, but also seeks to limit the amount of money local schools and local governments can spend on travel, meals and lodging. It also requires the governing bodies of local governments and schools to better document travel costs, and to hold a public roll-call vote whenever money to pay these costs is being appropriated from public funds.
“I view this as a way to reduce costs for schools and local governments and in the long run these cost reductions will result in lower property taxes,” McSweeney said. “I do not think it is fair to taxpayers to have property taxes go up every year and then find out that money is being used to pay for unnecessary expenses. We need to be looking at ways to lower the cost of government so we can lower property taxes and I think House Bill 4379 will do just that.”
HB 4379 has been filed and is awaiting assignment to a legislative committee.