Moody’s Investors Service is reacting favorably to Gov. Rauner’s local government consolidation efforts, according to an article in The Bond Buyer.
Gov. Rauner created the Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force by Executive Order in February to find ways to reduce Illinois’ more than 6,900 units of local government. Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti is chairing the Task Force, which had its first meeting March 26.
Moody’s in its weekly credit outlook March 26 noted that Illinois has the most local units of governments – 6,963 – of any state. Its analysts noted: “Any reduction in the number of distinct local governments that provide similar services would lower the overall costs supported by Illinois taxpayers. Further, the governor tasked the commission with reducing unfunded state mandates on local governments, potentially resulting in greater fiscal flexibility for the sector.”
The Task Force has been charged with identifying ways to help local governments consolidate and eliminate duplicate governmental bodies, school districts and taxing authorities. The hope is that streamlining these services will help cut waste and use taxpayer dollars more efficiently. The Task Force has also been asked to find ways to reduce the number of unfunded mandates the state imposes on local communities.
Although Moody’s Investor Services positive assessment remains a positive step, it does not impact the state’s A1 rating or its negative outlook.
Task Force members include State Senators Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington), Dale A. Righter (R-Mattoon), Martin A. Sandoval (D-Cicero) and Linda Holmes (D-Aurora), and State Representatives Tom Demmer (R-Dixon), Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield), Jack D. Franks (D-Woodstock), and Emanuel Chris Welch (D-Westchester), as well as representatives of local governments, local government advocacy groups, and education officials.