Contact Information: Johnna Kelly 630-407-6022
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Cronin: Local government can partner with state to help address Illinois’ fiscal crisis
Responding to a plea from Illinois Governor Pat Quinn for help in solving the state’s financial problems, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said today that he believes local officials can contribute to resolving Illinois’ protracted budget crisis.
“This problem didn’t happen overnight. It’s not the fault of one party or one governor or one legislative leader,” Cronin said. “If we are going to get this state back on track, it will require a team effort. I firmly believe that we all have an obligation to identify ways for the state to cut spending here at the local level.”
DuPage County receives tens of millions in state funds for numerous agencies and departments, including the Convalescent Center, public safety, community development and human services.
Cronin cites the release of a series of reports this week that evaluate two dozen local taxing districts as an example of how to approach potential cost-saving measures. One agency, the DuPage Fair and Exposition Authority, accepts nearly $200,000 in state funds via the Illinois Department of Agriculture to fund a five-day County fair with diminishing revenues and declining attendance. Decreasing reimbursements from the state for Probation Services prompted Cronin to close the County’s juvenile detention facility and transfer youthful offenders to Kane County, saving nearly $1 million per year. Last year, Cronin initiated a comprehensive review of the County’s employee benefit programs that will save an estimated $20 million over 20 years for health care and pension costs.
“The days of ‘legacy’ government, where a program or service continues simply because it’s been in existence for a certain amount of time, must end. We should evaluate ways to save the state money and reduce the size of local government in the process,” Cronin said. “Raising taxes and borrowing money are not options, so reducing spending is the only viable option in order to restore Illinois’ fiscal health that will benefit all of us in the future.”
Cronin recommends creating an incentive program to reward local units of government for saving state funds. “It’s hard to simply relinquish revenues voluntarily without some incentive,” Cronin said. “I’d be willing to work with state and local officials to develop such a program in an effort to encourage this needed partnership and yield savings for all Illinois taxpayers.”