Madison Co., IL. (ECWd) –
The Veterans Assistance Commission of Madison County (“VACMC”) has, in the past year attempted to make excuses as to why they think they can donate money to other organizations.
The Military Veterans Assistance Act (“MVAA”) was established by the legislature to provide financial and other support for needy veterans and their families, who qualify for the support.
Section 2 of the MVAA describes who is covered under the Act: “For the just, necessary, and needed assistance and services of military veterans, who served in the Armed Forces of the United States and whose last discharge from the service was honorable or general under honorable conditions to be eligible for assistance, their families, and the families of deceased veterans with service as described in this Section who need assistance and services…”
Within the past year or two, the VACMC has donated $25,000 to Veteran Service Organizations (“VSO”) such as an American Legion to replace windows in the legion hall, and to another VSO to paint an airplane. Donated to a Park District to install a memorial. Donated $15,000 to the Regional Office of Education to provide for mural painting and coding classes, $7,000 to “underserved” school districts. None of these donations are “just, necessary, and needed assistance and services of military veterans, who served in the Armed Forces of the United State”.
Illinois is a Dillon’s Rule state, and as such, local governments not under home rule must not do anything unless those powers were granted by the constitution or by the legislature. Absent any express authorization, the action cannot be done. Since the MVAA does not authorize assistance to veterans’ organizations or to other local governments, none of those donations are authorized under state law. In other words: “No matter how much it is wanted or needed, if statutory authority was not granted, it cannot be done” and “If there is a question of whether a local government can perform a function, the local government does not receive the benefit of doubt (it goes against the government).”
We searched high and low to find any language in the MVAA authorizing such donations and could not find such language. The lack of such authorization acts as a prohibition.
We suggest the VACMC promptly notify the receiving organizations and ask for a return of the funds to the Commission.