Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a bill that makes it legal to eliminate some unnecessary units of government — a measure sponsored by state Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) and supported by the Better Government Association.
Nearly 150 units of government that had no statutory authority to combine, consolidate or dissolve now have that power with Quinn’s Aug. 18 approval of HB 5785, which passed the General Assembly in May.
The law, which takes effect immediately, gives various obscure government entities — including cemetery maintenance, museum and street lighting districts — the authority to annex, consolidate or dissolve, provided a majority of board members approve the action. Those entities had lacked that power.
“Illinois has nearly 7,000 units of government with the authority to tax residents, almost 2,000 more than the next closest state,” said Franks, in a press release on the bill signing. “While it is imperative that we continue to work to reduce the size and scope of state government, we can also provide residents with meaningful tax relief by identifying opportunities for consolidation and increased efficiency at the local level.”
The bill is another step in the BGA’s effort to promote statewide “smart streamlining,” which aims to reduce the size of government while making it more responsive, efficient and affordable.
“When public officials and citizens determine that government bodies are inefficient or unnecessary, they should have opportunities to merge or dissolve those units,” said Andy Shaw, CEO and president of the BGA. “Trimming that bureaucratic bloat can potentially save millions of tax dollars.”
In addition to the BGA, the Civic Federation, a nonpartisan government research organization, backed the consolidation measure, which cleared a final concurrence vote in the General Assembly by an overwhelming majority on May 29.
HB 5785 is just one of a number of recent steps the Legislature has taken to facilitate the consolidation or elimination of unnecessary units of government.
Last year, the Legislature passed a law that led to the elimination of Evanston Township. Voters there approved that reform in a referendum earlier this year.
Lawmakers also passed a bill last year authorizing DuPage County officials to let their voters consolidate or dissolve more than a dozen units of local government by referendum.
And the General Assembly approved a pair of bills this year to help facilitate mergers of fire protection districts and municipal fire departments.