Several measures supporters say will drive value for taxpayers by addressing some consolidation recommendations has bipartisan support.
Among the four measures introduced Friday includes a bill to allow for voter referendum to consolidate governments while another would allow for easier township consolidations.
Standing alongside Governor Bruce Rauner, Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and several other local and state elected officials, Republican Senator Michael Connelly said businesses do what they can to find cost savings every year, something they hope to replicate in government.
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“In large measure,” Connelly said, “what we’re doing today is incorporating the best practices of business into the public sector.”
Democratic Representative Jack Franks said Illinois has too many units of government
“Our present system of 7,000 governments is simply unsustainable. It’s also a big reason why we have the second highest property taxes in the nation,” Franks said. “And by implementing these ideas I believe that we can begin to restore balance, eliminate redundant governments, and most importantly we can save taxpayers money.”
Franks also said the current system of governments is “bloated, it’s inefficient, it’s opaque and it’s unaccountable and our system as a result is open to corruption and abuse and we need to stop digging a deeper hole.”
Meanwhile Franks said some of the items may not find agreement among all lawmakers but he’s confident the four items, two dealing with township government consolidation, one dealing with DuPage County and another allowing referendum to consolidate, will get bipartisan support this session.
Republican Representative Mark Batinick agreed this is the year to bring about consolidation reforms because it will free up needed resources to spend on things everyone agrees must be funded, like education and various social services.
“And we can’t continue down the path of doing things inefficiently,” Batinick said.
Governor Rauner said despite what some say are non budget issues, consolidations will help build confidence from the business community which will help encourage growth and increase the tax base.
“If we can shrink the bureaucracy and reduce the tax burden it’s gonna be much easier to have confidence in the business community so when I travel the nation and travel the world on my nickel recruiting companies to come to Illinois,” Rauner said. “They’ll have more confidence that Illinois is on a track of being competitive, that the tax burden is not going to be crushing them if they come and invested here.”
Lt. Governor Sanguinetti said the report from the commission on consolidation and unfunded mandates she chaired won’t gather dust on the shelf.
“Because we’re all uniting to put batteries inside this task force report,” Sanguinetti said, “and make it a reality and that’s what we’re doing here today.”
The four measures presented will address eight of 29 items from the report, according to the governor. Rauner said the other more controversial items are still important but he wants lawmakers to “walk before they can run.”