News Local/State

Task Force Presents Ideas for Consolidating Local Governments


Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner wants to reduce the number of local governments in the state. And the task force he set up to study the idea presented its recommendations to Rauner on Monday during a DuPage County event.

One of Rauner’s first acts as governor was to form the Task Force on Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti.

The task force’s members included 22 voting members, including State Senator Dale Righter and University of Illinois Trustee Karen Hasara, and five non-voting members.

The task force’s mission: to consolidate the number of governments, since Illinois has roughly 7,000 of them, more than any other state.

Those governments include townships, school districts, and fire districts.

Gov. Rauner says the sheer quantity of local governments adds up for taxpayers, but he’s expecting to meet some resistance to proposals to reduce their numbers.

“An entity of government is a political power base,” said Rauner. “It is; that’s just true. It’s an opportunity for cronyism, for patronage, for a pension, for favoritism.”

The task force’s suggestions include allowing voters to dissolve governmental units through referendums. 

It’s also recommending local governments should be able to choose what they collectively bargain with their employees’ labor unions. And it calls for repealing or changing state prevailing wage laws that require workers on publicly-funding projects to be paid a certain wage. Both proposals have been a big point of contention among legislative leaders in Springfield.

Unions have said those changes would drive down wages and benefits and hurt working families.