SPRINGFIELD — Governor Bruce Rauner today announced his support of legislation that would save Illinois public schools more than $200 million through unfunded mandate relief.

“Providing districts with this relief costs taxpayers absolutely nothing, but will save districts millions,” Governor Bruce Rauner said. “By freeing districts from these costly mandates, schools will have more flexibility to invest their resources in classrooms and teachers. It’s a win for students, parents, districts and taxpayers.”

The legislation eliminates restrictions on third-party contracting, which eases limitations and financial pressures on school districts. This type of mandate relief is already provided to Chicago Public Schools and this legislation extends this relief to every school district in Illinois. In addition, it eases the requirement on schools to offer drivers education and physical education classes.

Third-party contracting relief, drivers education mandate relief and physical education mandate relief are three of the 27 proposals from the Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force.

“School district unfunded mandates drive up property taxes and limit local control,” Lt. Governor Sanguinetti said. “As a mother of three, I think local school districts and parents should be deciding what’s best for our children, not Springfield. We need to give the power and flexibility back to local communities and parents, and this bill does just that.”

Illinois school districts have been forced to comply with nearly 150 unfunded mandates in the past 25 years, with the General Assembly enacting more than 135 unfunded mandates in the last 15 years.

“Mandate relief is an issue of critical importance to school districts across Illinois. Countless state mandates impact nearly every aspect of every district across our state,” said State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington), the chief sponsor of SB 3098. “Relief from these costly mandates is essential to giving districts the flexibility they need, and allows them to direct their limited resources to the classroom, where they are needed the most.”

“Schools desperately need relief from burdensome unfunded mandates that are passed down to them by the state and federal government,” said State Representative Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove), chief sponsor of HB 6164. “The provisions of this bill will give our local schools a great deal more flexibility so they can make their educational offerings more student centered and cost effective.”