McConchie-sponsored new law aims to protect taxpayers' money
When the tab for hotel snacks came to $128.87 in June 2013 during a College of Lake County Board member's stay at a Chicago hotel, the total eventually prompted Illinois lawmakers to rein in spending, yielding legislation recently co-sponsored by state Sen. Dan McConchie (R-Dist. 26).
The bill was signed into law recently by Gov. Bruce Rauner. It limits the amount of spending on travel by local officials and prohibits the use of taxpayer money for entertainment — enabling funds to be diverted to where they are most needed.
McConchie said property taxes should derive benefits from the new ruling, saying, "Our property taxes are too high."
State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Dist. 52) co-sponsored the bill with McConchie after a three-year investigation into lawmakers’ spending habits resulted in exposure of disproportionately high tabs.
“I co-sponsored a bill by David McSweeney and signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner to prohibit local government officials from spending our tax dollars on entertainment and limiting how much can be spent on travel and dining,” McConchie said. “Do you agree with me that we must cut government spending?”
College of Lake County Board Chairwoman Amanda Howland, struck by a three-digit tab for a board member’s late-night refreshments at Chicago’s Drake Hotel on June 7, 2013, proved instrumental in the reform. Now, board members must provide itemized receipts for all spending over $15 and will not be reimbursed for any costs that fall outside the attendance dates of conventions — just like any private-sector job.
From that level, momentum spread to school and college districts, and finally non-home-rule government divisions, for tighter regulation and documentation for reimbursement.
"Illinois has the highest property taxes in the nation," McSweeney said of the bill, echoing McConchie’s sentiments. "We need to make sure our tax dollars are being used wisely and we need to reduce property taxes."