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Bd of Education v. State Bd of Education

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 24, 1985.

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF MAINE TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 207 ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,

v.

STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Arthur L. Dunne, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE BILANDIC DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is the first judicial test of the State Mandates Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 85, par. 2201 et seq.). Plaintiffs are 15 local school districts that filed a declaratory judgment action against defendants, the State Board of Education and the State Superintendent of Education. Count I sought to declare Public Act 83-913 (Nurses' Pay Bill) void in its entirety because a "fiscal note" was not prepared in accordance with section 8(b)(2) of the State Mandates Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 85, par. 2208(b)(2).) In Count II, plaintiffs asserted alternatively that the Nurses' Pay Bill is unenforceable under section 8(a) of the State Mandates Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 85, par. 2208(a)), unless sufficient State appropriations were made available to reimburse them for the cost of complying with the bill, which required plaintiffs to raise the salaries of their certified school nurses. Count III was identical to count II except that it challenged the enforceability of Public Act 83-876 (Certified Service Personnel Pay Bill) unless sufficient State appropriations were made to reimburse plaintiffs for the cost of compliance. Public Act 83-876 required plaintiffs to raise salaries of holders of school service personnel certificates, including nurses.

On cross-motions for summary judgment, the circuit court ruled that Public Act 83-913 was a valid and enforceable enactment. Regarding count I, the court decided that the judiciary was precluded from procedural inquiries into an enactment bill by reason of the "Enrolled Bill Rule" embodied in article IV, section 8(d) of the 1970 Illinois Constitution. (Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, section 8(d).) Regarding count II, the court decided that Public Act 83-913 was a valid enactment of the legislature and enforceable. Regarding count III, the court ruled that Public Act 83-876 was unenforceable as it relates to compensation because the legislature failed to provide reimbursement for the cost of compliance as required by the State Mandates Act.

Plaintiffs have appealed the circuit court's judgment concerning the validity and enforceability of Public Act 83-913. Defendants have not appealed the court's decision on Public Act 83-876.

In order to more easily comprehend the legal issues presented in this case, we must review briefly the historical background of some pertinent facts. Prior to 1981, special interest groups would lobby the State legislature to require local governments to provide new or expanded programs or benefits. Because the State would not be required to pay for such costs incurred, legislators often yielded to the temptation to respond favorably and thereby gain popularity or political advantage. However, local taxpayers and elected officials had to shoulder the ever-increasing burden by raising taxes in order to pay for these State-imposed mandates.

Much to its credit, the Illinois General Assembly recognized this inequity and enacted the State Mandates Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 85, par. 2201 et seq., eff. Jan. 1, 1981.) It provides that the State must reimburse units of local government, including school districts, for their increased costs caused by State laws creating new programs or expanding existing ones. Because of the State Mandates Act, units of local government are able to set a budget with the knowledge that additional programs or expenses mandated by the State will be paid by the State.

The enactment of the State Mandates Act was a major reform that the legislature voluntarily imposed on itself by an overwhelming majority. During the debates, the legislators emphasized the State Mandates Act would "make us more responsible" because "it's our own money we're spending and not somebody else's." S.B. 696, 81st General Assembly, May 17, 1979, 45th Legislative Day, p. 116 (remarks of Sen. Knuppel, the sponsor).

In general, the States Mandates Act requires the General Assembly to reimburse units of local government for the added costs of certain types of State-imposed mandates and relieves local governments of the obligation to implement such mandates if State reimbursement is not provided.

Some unnecessary confusion was created in this case when counsel used the words "exclusion" and "exemption" interchangeably in their briefs. For purposes of the State Mandates Act, "exclusion" and "exemption" are significant and should be used precisely. For example, there are only five recognized "exclusions" under the Act:

"Sec. 8. * * * (a) Exclusions: Any of the following circumstances inherent to, or associated with, a mandate shall exclude the State from reimbursement liability under this Act. If the mandate (1) accommodates a request from local governments or organizations thereof; (2) imposes additional duties of a nature which can be carried out by existing staff and procedures at no appreciable net cost increase; (3) creates additional costs but also provides offsetting savings resulting in no aggregate increase in net costs; (4) imposes a cost that is wholly or largely recovered from Federal, State or other external financial aid; (5) imposes additional annual net costs of less than $1,000 for each of the several local governments affected or less than $50,000, in the aggregate, for all local governments affected." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 85, par. 2208(a).

Unlike "exclusions," "exemptions" are not limited to any specific situations. Sections 8.1 through 8.8 of the State Mandates Act provided for exempt mandates. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 85, pars. 2208.1-2208.8 (1984 and 1985 Supps.).) *fn1 The General Assembly can exempt any mandate without any limitation by so identifying the mandate, as in sections 8.1 through 8.8. The net result is an amendment of the State Mandates Act for that particular purpose.

During its 1983 session, the legislature enacted the two laws at issue that created personnel mandates, Public Act 83-876 and Public Act 83-913. This occurred over two years after the enactment of the State Mandates Act.

Public Act 83-876 dealt with holders of a service personnel certificate. It raised their benefits to the level of those holding teaching certificates. Local school boards were directed by the State to raise those benefits. This mandate was not accompanied by an appropriation bill as required by section 8(b)(4) of the State Mandates Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 85, par. 2208(b)(4)); was not excluded from reimbursement under section 8(a) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 85, par. 2208(a)); and was not declared an exempt mandate under sections 8.1-8.8 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 85, pars. 2208.1 through 2208.8 (1984 and 1985 Supps.)).

Public Act 83-913 raised certified nurses' salaries to the level of certified teachers' salaries. As in Public Act 83-876, local school boards were mandated to raise the nurses' salaries. Similarly, the mandate for nurses in Public Act 83-913 did not have a companion appropriation bill; was not excluded from reimbursement; and was not declared an exempt mandate. However, the Nurses' Pay Bill stated in section 2:

"The General Assembly hereby finds and declares that this amendatory Act does not require reimbursement by the State under `The State Mandates Act.'"

It is conceded that neither public act followed the provisions of the State Mandates Act. The fiscal note requirement was disregarded and the appropriation, exclusion and exemption provisions were not followed. The trial court held that Public Act 83-876 was unenforceable for failure to comply with the State Mandates Act. Defendants did not appeal this issue, so Public Act 83-876 is not involved directly in this appeal.

The issues thus presented are: (1) whether the Nurses' Pay Bill, Public Act 83-913, is enforceable against local school districts without a companion State appropriation, exclusion or exemption; and (2) whether the ...


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