(The Center Square) – Republican state Rep. Dan Caulkins fumes that Illinois taxpayers are being forced to pay for the state's more than 6,000 units of local government.
“It’s symbolic of one of the biggest problems we have here in Illinois and that’s too much government,” Caulkins told The Center Square of a new Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) study that concludes the state is home to more units of government than any other state in the country. “There’ too much government, too much bureaucracy and too much red tape, which in turn makes for high taxes as a way to pay for all the overhead.”
While IPI puts the number of local government units at around 6.032 units, Census Bureau data from 2017 puts it at around 7,000 units and the Civic Federation actually pegs it in the neighborhood of 9,000 units.
“We Republicans talk about consolidation in a way that won’t force our citizens to suffer,” Caulkins said. “We think there should be an easy way to support consolidations of things like townships and road districts. We think there should be an easy way to consolidate school district administrations. All of that would free up money that could be spent in the classroom, allowing property taxes to be reduced.”
While Township Officials of Illinois executive director Jerry Crabtree insists there’s a good reason for government being as big as it is in the state, namely the fact that the state is the sixth largest in the country based on population and has a heavy mix of urban and rural communities, Caulkins sees things differently and before long feels more and more lawmakers will have to come around to his way if thinking.
“At some point in the near future, I believe, they will have to because as it is the state has been bailed out by the COVID crisis and all the billions it received in federal funding,” he said. “That’s hidden many of the financial issues we have and when the time comes that we no longer have that money to meet all our obligations, we’re going to have to look at reform.”