A bill signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner last week allows two counties to reduce the number of governmental bodies they have, but the bill's sponsor said it was pared back due to lawmakers wanting to protect their local establishments.
State Rep. Jack Franks' legislation gives his home county of McHenry and neighboring Lake County the ability to dissolve units of government headed by board-appointed officials, in lieu of elected ones. Franks said this is the best way to drive down Illinois' high property taxes.
"The only way to start reducing our property taxes is by getting rid of some of these governments," he said.
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Franks wanted to give every county the same ability to consolidate, but ran into pushback from lawmakers unwilling to endanger their local politicians.
"They're protecting their fiefdoms,” he said. “It's sorta hard to get rid of the idiot brother-in-law from the payroll."
Franks is running for election to serve as McHenry County's board chairman. He would be the first elected chairman in the county. Franks said Lake County was included in this bill at the request of its county officials.
DuPage County has had the same ability to streamline government since 2013. Chairman Dan Cronin said the county will save its taxpayers more than $100 million in the coming years.
Illinois has more than 7,000 units of local government, 1,800 more than any other state.