Lawmakers criticize potential financial burden Safe-T Act poses to local governments

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Thursday, October 6, 2022
Lawmakers criticize potential financial burden Safe-T Act poses to local governments
Illinois recently passed Safe-T Act is under scrutiny for its potential to raise property taxes along with its elimination of cash bail in the state.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- New concerns are being raised about the Safe-T Act and the financial costs associated with the law.

Republicans are saying those costs could lead to an increase in property taxes.

At the heart of the matter, Republicans said it is the unfunded mandates associated with the law. Costs that local police departments and courts will incur because of the law which could then fall on taxpayers.

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Critics of the Safe-T Act launched a new attack on the law, which among other things eliminates cash bail starting January 1st.

"This legislation doesn't just make our communities less safe," said State Rep. Chris Bos (R) Lake Zurich. "It is ultimately going to make them more expensive."

Republicans contend that counties will have to raise property taxes to pay for some of the requirements of the law including police body cameras and the systems to store the video. They also said it will require additional personnel in the courts, sheriff's departments and pretrial services.

DuPage County estimates that over five years, the Safe-T Act will cost $63 million to implement.

"JB Pritzker and the legislative Democrats have now proven the following phrase: crime does pay to the detriment of taxpayers and law-abiding citizens," said Jim Durkin, House Republican Leader.

RELATED | Illinois law eliminating cash bail has some in law enforcement concerned

Democrats contend that while the reforms do come with costs, they also come with savings, including not having to process so many bonds. Democrats question the motives of the law's opponents.

"I think it's quite disingenuous and clearly politically motivated," said State Sen. Robert Martwick, (D) Chicago and NW Suburbs.

A legislative working group met Tuesday to discuss concerns that have been raised about the law.

"There's been millions of dollars appropriated to offset the cost of the Safe-T Act to make sure, as you mentioned the camera grant fund," said State Sen. Elgie Sims, (D) Chicago, Bill Sponsor. "There's over $30 million in this year's budget for camera grants."

Senator Sims accused Republicans of wanting to sit on the sidelines and criticize. While Republicans said they've been shut out of the discussions. Democrats said they are looking at changes to make the law better.