Illinois districts back Rauner in effort to undo school mandates

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EAST SAINT LOUIS, IL (KPLR)- Financially strapped Illinois school districts are trying to eliminate costly mandates now have a new ally in their fight, Governor Bruce Rauner. The state of Illinois imposes well over 100 mandates on local school districts. They cover a wide variety of areas but Rauner is focusing on a few in particular.

According to our partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Rauner`s move against unfunded mandates is part of a larger proposal to freeze property taxes, curb the influence of public worker unions and overhaul Illinois` school funding formula. Unfunded mandates are of course lawmaker directives that often cost local school districts money.

In a letter to lawmakers last week, Rauner said mandate relief could save districts across Illinois more than 200 million dollars a year. That savings, Rauner says, could help combat the loss of funding from a property tax freeze and bring the kind of 'structural reform' that he says Illinois needs.

Rauner is targeting three mandates that are particularly unpopular. A requirement that districts offer drivers education and behind the wheel training, the mandate for daily physical education, and restrictions on outsourcing services such as transportation and janitorial work.

Getting rid of unfunded mandates has been politically tough in the past.

It likely won`t get any easier this time around with a legislature deeply divided over the state budget and Governor Rauner`s legislative agenda.

Among the concerns, whether some of the costs from the mandates could be passed on to working families.