State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) said its time for Illinois lawmakers to “put their money where their mouth is”, to stop talking about rooting out “waste, fraud and abuse” in Illinois government and actually do something about it.
“Taking a cue from President Regan’s 1982 executive order calling for a private sector study on cost control which resulted in the 1984 ‘Grace Commission’ report, I have filed two pieces of legislation that call for and create a commission that would conduct an independent cost study of our state agencies,” said Reick. “Its goal is to identify inefficiencies, redundancies and insufficient control over the operations of state agencies which result in inadequate services being provided at too high a cost.”
HB 5957 creates the Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Act, creating a private sector panel to undertake a thorough review of Illinois agencies and provide recommendations for improvement. The panel would consist of 18 voting members, including three members each appointed by the House Speaker, House Minority Leader, Senate President and Senate Minority Leader, and six members appointed by the Governor with not more than four members from the same political party. Like the Grace Commission, this Commission would be privately funded by soliciting contributions to be made to a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization as called for in the bill. Commission members would not be paid.
The independent commission would conduct an in-depth review of State agencies with a focus on finding improvements that would increase efficiency, reduce costs, enhance accountability and improve administrative control. The group would also provide opportunities for managerial improvements over the short and long term and suggest specific areas where further study could result in additional savings. Results would be presented to the Governor and the General Assembly by October 1, 2019.
“The work of this commission will allow us to determine where we can cut spending in ways that still allow us to provide an adequate level of state services,” Reick said. “It seems that the default message from Springfield is to ask the taxpayers for more money, but before taxpayers can be asked for more, we have an obligation to ensure that State government is operating as efficiently and effectively as possible. We must do this deep dive into our agency operations with a focus on finding where outdated and redundant processes can be eliminated or combined. We must also set policies in place which demand greater accountability from those stakeholders which come to the state asking for appropriation of taxpayer money. It’s time for them to show us how well they’ve spent the money we’ve given them before we give them more. As a member of the K-12 Education Appropriations Committee, I know firsthand that it’s not now being done.”
HJR 141 provides the legislative intent for the establishment of the Commission and points to the State’s obligation to provide public services necessary to ensure the Illinoisans can live in dignity and safety in a manner that does not overburden taxpayers.
“Our budgeting process all too often fails to examine the inefficiencies brought about by the existence of redundant and outdated programs, and we have agencies that currently do not use best practices or operate with an eye on cost control,” continued Reick. “The failure over decades to examine measures to control costs has led to ever-increasing demands for more tax revenue, and we’ve reached the point where productive, taxpaying Illinoisans are saying ‘I’ve had enough,’ and they’re leaving the state to find better opportunities elsewhere.”
Reick said he will push for consideration of his new legislation during the upcoming Fall Veto Session, and says it will be very telling if the majority party tries to block these taxpayer-friendly pieces of legislation.