Ives fights for school debt transparency bill
Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) gave it her best shot to create the School District Debt Control and Taxpayer Protection Act during House debate April 27.
According to the bill synopsis, HB5572, “provides that a school district may not refinance debt past the repayment period of the debt when issued, may not issue debt to be serviced over a period greater than 20 years and may not issue capital appreciation bonds.”
However, after a lengthy debate with Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), HB5572 failed 77-13.
Ives did not give up easily during debate preceding the vote.
“Representative, why are so many people opposed to your bill?” Lang asked.
It’s because school districts want taxpayers to pay more than they have to on debt, according to Ives, who said that is why she is updating the definition of debt that would not incur interest. “They do not like that aspect of the bill, but taxpayers like my bill,” Ives said.
Lang wanted to know which taxpayers.
“I testified in my committee on behalf of my bill, and other entities who look out for taxpayers are in support of this bill,” Ives said.
How many, Lang asked.
“The Americans for Prosperity, they are very good about protecting taxpayers,” Ive said.
Lang asked if there were portions of Ives' bill that flew in the face of a bill he proposed last year that the two discussed.
“There is no conflict with what you did, you did a special carve out for your district to allow them to exceed their current debt limit,” Ives said.
That would still be allowed, Ives said, but under her bill you would have to include all of the cost of the referendum debt.
Lang said he did much more than just carve out. “We created a whole new system; so school districts have to jump through lots of hoops and do lots of transparency before they can do any bond debt,” Lang said.
Debt still must be defined, Ives countered.
“Just like when you take out a mortgage, the mortgage company doesn’t simply look at the price of the home,” Ives said, adding they look at the interest, taxes and insurance associated with purchase of the home.
Ives said 73 districts presently exceed their debt limit. “And that isn’t even the full cost of the debt,” she added.