- Published: Monday, July 06, 2015 02:02 PM
Illinois Business Journal - July 2015 Issue | Original Article
By Dennis Grubaugh
In March, [Governor Bruce Rauner] appointed a 25-person bipartisan panel to explore ways to consolidate taxing bodies as well as reduce the number of unfunded mandates the state imposes on local communities.
He named Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti to chair the task force.
The committee is charged with coming up with a set of recommendations by year’s end. While some recommendations may go nowhere, others are likely to become legislation, quickly or over a period of years. The committee discusses and votes on individual recommendations at each meeting, said state Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, a committee member and a longtime advocate of consolidation.
Meetings have focused about evenly between consolidation and unfunded mandates.
“There’s definitely been progress. There have been several meetings and a lot of conversation and public comment,” said Holmes, who was first elected in 2006. Discussions about the size and scope of government have grown in frequency in recent years, she said.
At the most recent meeting, the potential for debate, as well as agreement, was reflected. On one issue, panel members agreed that all of Illinois’ 102 counties should have the same ability that DuPage County has, which is the ability to recommend consolidations within its own county.
“A lot of the consolidation issues are being looked upon favorably,” Holmes said.
Another topic, though, showed the potential for disagreement.
“One of the items we voted on was reforming or eliminating prevailing wage. I voted no on it. I couldn’t see what prevailing wage had to do with either consolidation or mandates.”
Some unfunded mandates have their place, Holmes said. Physical education in schools, for instance.
“I’m not sure I want to leave that up to every individual school. Some would do an exemplary job, but I’m not sure all schools would do that. I want to make sure our children are getting the physical activity they need.”
She agreed that every recommendation regarding consolidation raises the potential for opposition because of jobs that could be lost.
“That’s a legitimate concern,” Holmes said. “And I think it needs to be weighed very carefully. But there may be a way of taking these issues and phasing them in over a number of years so you’re not causing an immediate effect.”
Read the full article at The Illinois Business Journal.