House comes together on government consolidation measure
A Senate “grand bargain” bill that would facilitate the consolidation of municipal governments in an effort to cut costs passed the House on May 31 after doing the same in the Senate two weeks earlier.
Senate Bill 3, presented to the floor by Rep. Sam. Yingling (D-Grayslake), puts in place a procedure for township consolidation, allows coterminous townships to dissolve and expands the DuPage County consolidation model to every county in the state.
Yingling said local government consolidation is a necessity in Illinois.
“Illinois now has more units of government than any state in the country.” Yingling said. “Having so many layers in government creates inefficiencies and waste with our property tax dollars. We are facing a property tax crisis in the state, and property taxes are driving people out of their home and out of Illinois. Government consolidation is necessary to move our state forward, and SB3 moves us in the right direction.”
Although the bill received support from both sides of the aisle, as part of the grand bargain it can become law only if all other measures in the plan do so as well.
Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) called SB3 “great stuff in the right direction,” and Rep. David Olson (D-Downers Grove) rose in support, calling it a step forward.
“Consolidation is an important issue as we seek to make the government more efficient for the people of Illinois,” Olson said. “I think the important thing is that we continue to work together as I have with this sponsor, and I look forward to further opportunities to do so.”
Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon), who passed similar legislation in HB496, commended Yingling for working relentlessly with Republican and Democrats on the bill, but he also pushed for further work on the bill to incorporate a provision for citizens to enact consolidation themselves instead of depending on the township board.
Bodies of local government might not see the incentive in “voting themselves out of a job,” and citizens should therefore have the power to initiate consolidation, Demmer asserted.
“We should empower citizens to do this and not make them go through only the avenues that are available to them though local units of government,” Demmer said.
Yingling concluded the debate by thanking members of the chamber for working together and giving some power back to the people of Illinois.
“This is a solid piece of legislation that was done in a bipartisan way, and it really shows what this body and what this General Assembly can do when we work together and take the politics out of this legislation," he said. "I believe this is a good bill. SB3 gives the people of Illinois the ability to take control of their local taxing body. I urge an ‘aye’ vote.”
SB3 passed 75-34.