Alden Loury, BGA senior policy analyst, recently addressed a state task force on government consolidation by calling for a methodical but persistent approach to reducing the number of taxpayer-backed townships, agencies, school districts and more.

Loury on Nov. 19 spoke before Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti’s Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force. That task force is charged with making recommendations to Governor Rauner about reducing the size of state government, local government and school district consolidation, with the goal of improving services and lowering costs.

Illinois has nearly 7,000 tax-supported units of government, more than any other state.

Over the past few years, the BGA’s policy team, which operates independently of its better-known investigative reporting group, has been at the forefront of a movement to reduce the number of government agencies, school districts, townships and other entities.

The BGA’s Loury testified that all of those units of local government are different and that one over-arching state  law or legislative strategy does not fit all streamlining and consolidation situations. 

As a result, consolidation should not be pursued unilaterally, Loury said.

Rather, he urged the task force to look methodically at local governments and finances, pinpoint where streamlining makes the most sense and then put the mechanisms in place to eliminate redundancies.

Loury said school districts, special districts and townships may be the best places to look for inefficiency and duplication noting the administrative costs of those districts and their concentration in some geographic areas, like suburban Cook County.

“Suburban Cook is ripe for more efficient delivery of public services,” he said.

While talk of consolidation can generate controversy, Loury noted that feasibility studies and financial audits have helped spur school district mergers and township consolidations.

“Motivation can be generated by providing more information,” Loury said. 

The second charge of this task force is to seek to reduce unfunded mandates on local governments.

More information about the Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force can be found here.