Illinois — Illinois holds two dubious distinctions: First, we have more units of government than any other state; second, we are losing population faster than any other state. I believe that the mass exodus is at least partly the result of the crushing burden we heap upon Illinois taxpayers to pay for a bloated – and oftentimes obsolete – government. It’s time for a change. The General Assembly recently enacted legislation that enables consolidation of local governments as one way to address this pressing issue. This is a one step in the right direction. It gives local voters a tool to reshape and streamline their government – making it more efficient and accountable.
The result has been a steady string of consolidations – such as the merger of the Cook County Clerk’s office with the County Recorder’s office (effectively eliminating the Recorder’s office.) In suburban Cook County, Wheeling Township voters chose to eliminate the Highway Commissioner’s office, saving tax dollars. McHenry County will have a similar Clerk/Recorder merger on their ballot, and Winnebago County (parts of which are in the 89th District,) is considering the same ballot question.
I applaud the ingenuity and action of taxpayers that have said “Enough!” and I believe that the state needs to step up and do its part as well. Smart consolidation means we can eliminate duplicitous services, inefficiencies, holes in operations, and support for systems that harbor patronage and waste. We could save tens of millions of dollars in state government waste with a few prudent changes.
Talk of combining the nearly identical offices of the Comptroller and Treasurer has gone on for over a decade, but nothing has come of it. There have also been multiple failed attempts to eliminate the office of Lt. Governor.
One of my goals for state government is the streamlining of government functions and the elimination of redundant or useless operations. In the 89th District, our citizens and our businesses share the philosophy that we all should live within our means. I will work hard to change the way they think in Springfield, and I’ll work to bring some Northwest Illinois values to the debate.
Saving tax dollars through consolidation on the local level saves property tax dollars. On the state level, it would save dollars collected from taxpayers through the income tax.
Andrew Chesney is the current Alderman at Large in the city of Freeport, Illinois and candidate for State Representative of the 89th District.