Bill affirming mental health referendums passes House, awaits governor's signature

A bill preserving the results of successful referendums last year creating community mental health boards in several suburban communities has passed the Illinois House and now awaits Gov. J.B. Pritzker's signature.

The legislation, approved last week by the state Senate, validates the creation of 708 mental health boards in Addison, Lisle, Naperville, Schaumburg and Wheeling townships, along with Will County. It also authorizes a new property tax levy to fund the boards, which support local efforts to address mental health, substance abuse and developmental disabilities.

Without the bill, the results had been in doubt because the wording of the ballot measures failed to include a required explanation of their tax impact.

Wheeling Township has gone so far as to approve putting the referendum back on the ballot in March, over the objections of the citizens who backed the referendum.

But with the governor's expected signature, proponents say, the ability to support the boards with taxpayer funds is no longer in dispute.

"Residents voiced their support for these boards, and they want to see more investment in mental health care," said state Sen. Ann Gillespie, an Arlington Heights Democrat who sponsored the bill in the Senate. "This is a sensible fix that will allow townships to move forward with their mental health boards and expand these vital services."

The bill also makes Wheeling Township's planned do-over referendum moot, proponents say.

"The General Assembly has taken action to affirm the will of the voters in Wheeling Township to make critical investments in our local mental health needs," said state Rep. Daniel Didech said, a Buffalo Grove Democrat and House co-sponsor.

"Too many people in our community, and communities across this state, have had to overcome mental health problems without the help they deserve," added state Rep. Mary Beth Canty, an Arlington Heights Democrat who voted for the bill.

'A heart for change' Advocates celebrate voter support for mental health boards

Voters backed creation of a mental health board last year. Now they may have to do it again.

Wheeling Township plans do-over on mental health board referendum

Do-over or do nothing? Townships face question over mental health board referendums

A legislative fix for flawed referendums?

Illinois Sen. Ann Gillespie
Illinois Rep. Daniel Didech
Illinois Rep. Mary Beth Canty
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