When comparisons are made, Illinois generally lags behind other states. In education funding. In education test scores. In public pension funding. In unemployment. In managing medicare programs. The list seems endless and is very disturbing.
Things have gotten so ugly with the financial health of the State of Illinois that Governor Quinn is in the process of closing several prisons, aggravating an already serious overcrowded prison population, closing all mental health institutions with plans to relocate their residents away from an institutionalized setting many of them need, and cutting back on health and family services programs. He is in an extended fight with public labor unions for failing to honor pay raises from new contracts he signed around the time he was elected Governor two years ago. All this after Democrats promised that a "temporary" personal income tax increase from 3% to 5% passed during the last lame duck session (where they meet after an election and before the newly elected are sworn into office) would solve many of Illinois' financial problems.
Am I being critical of Governor Quinn? No, circumstances are now forcing his hand. Too bad two years ago while running for election, he claimed those mounting problems, well, weren't.
But we are No. 1 in one category. In Illinois, we have more units of government than any other state in the union. The figure is 6,968! The No. 2 state, Pennsylvania, has 2,000 fewer units of government than we do.
Wonder why your property taxes are so high? Property owners and taxpayers need to read their tax bills and ask each unit of government that pulls dollars out of our wallets in the form of property taxes each year: Who are you? What do you do? Do we really need your form of government? Can't some of your functions be consolidated with other similar or other units of government?
The Common Sense question is: If other states larger and smaller than ours can do without all those extra units of government, why can't we?
We are talking School Districts. Fire Districts. Townships. Sanitation Districts. Mosquito Abatement Districts. Waterway Districts. A lot of little local governments, too numerous to mention. And it all adds up on our property tax bills.
I live in a township that plows and maintains no roads. It barely manages two small old cemeteries. They just completed a survey to try to figure out who is buried where and when, and which plots are empty, as records they were required to keep by law were scrambled years ago in a flood. It operates a mini-bus service for seniors. It operates a food pantry. It offers its own form of financial assistance to the needy. It issues grants annually to various charities and groups who others. They send quarterly newsletters that offer little in the way of information that could easily be obtained elsewhere. Like election registration, dates and locations. Half of its income goes to pay salaries and employee benefits. All of these functions overlap other functions of government in my region, and could easily be consolidated.
But year after year after year after year, that government, and other small governments on my property tax bill continue to exist, and pay salaries to those who some day will collect public pensions.
Why do so few other counties in Illinois have a "Recorder of Deeds office? How do the rest of the counties survive without one? Or better yet, have those other counties missed having such an office?
The Springfield State Journal Register has an article confirming U.S. Census numbers showing that we have over 2,000 more units of government than the next highest state, Pennsylvania. And there is a push in Springfield by those in charge (called "Democrats") to shift pension funding away from the State of Illinois and back to local units of governments? You know, those very same units of government that appear on your local property tax bills?
You can read the full article here: http://www.sj-r.com/thedome/x578042037/Illinois-tops-among-states-for-number-of-governments.
It is time we started asking some serious questions about this issue.
And let's start with those candidates running for State Senate and State Representative in districts located in the 10th Congressional District. What are your positions on consolidating and reducing local governments? Are you all proud of our No. 1 ranking? And what are your positions on the proposed shifting of pension contribution costs to local governments and our property taxes?
If I receive any responses from candidates from either parties, I will gladly post them.