Winnebago County, along with other counties that pass public safety sales tax referendums in the future, may soon have added flexibility in how they use those funds, under bipartisan legislation passed in the Illinois Senate by State Senators Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) and Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford).
House Bill 4560 expands the “Special County Retailers’ Occupation Tax for Public Safety, Public Facilities, or Transportation” to allows counties to use proceeds from the tax to fund mental health and substance abuse services. The legislation clarifies that counties that have passed the special tax via referendum will be able to use the funds for mental health and substance abuse treatment in areas that affect crime.
"We know that the criminal justice system is impacted mental health and substance abuse," said Syverson. "Mental health and substance abuse treatment can help reduce crime and increase public safety, so I think it is a natural fit to make sure local governments have the flexibility to use these funds to treat those issues."
"Mental health and substance abuse are among the most overlooked issues facing our state," said Stadelman. "This is a common sense, bipartisan measure that gives local governments another tool in the toolbox to treat those struggling with these challenges.”
The Special County Retailers’ Occupation Tax for Public Safety, Public Facilities, or Transportation, as first created, is a tax that county boards may levee, if approved by a referendum, to be used exclusively for public safety, public facilities, or transportation purposes. The tax applies to what is considered to be the tangible personal property at retail, but excluding property that is required to be titled or registered with the state.
The legislation passed unanimously through the Senate Revenue Committee on Wednesday and then was approved by the full chamber on Thursday.
“My hope is that this legislation will help treat many individuals who are currently falling through the cracks while enhancing public safety for everyone,” said Syverson.
“I look forward to continuing to work across the aisle to find solutions to the challenges facing our state,” said Stadelman.