Duffy Criticizes Althoff

The following was written by State Senator Dan Duffy concerning a clone of the bill enacted at DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin’s request.  House Bill 229, sponsored in the Illinois House by State Rep. Jack Franks, it allows McHenry and Lake County Boards to eliminate certain local governments:

Topsy-turvy McHenry County Representation

Dan Duffy

Dan Duffy

As a small business owner who is now serving as a Republican State Senator,

I still get baffled by the political games that are played in Springfield.

Lately, it has become difficult to differentiate between McHenry County Republicans and Democrats.

Let me explain. Illinois is in a financial tailspin.

When Governor Rauner took office in January he inherited a state with the highest debt and lowest credit rating in America.

Over a decade of reckless spending by the Democratic leaders in Springfield have put us on the verge of bankruptcy.

Illinois has nearly 7000 units of government, the most layers of government in the nation.

We pay for all of these layers of government through our sky high property taxes.

Jack Franks

Jack Franks

In an effort to lower our property taxes and cut government spending, Governor Rauner walked into office and immediately signed an executive order forming a Local Government Consolidation Task Force. I was honored to be appointed to this task force along with Representative Jack Franks (D).

Rep. Franks embraced the governor’s mission and filed House Bill 229 (HB 229).

His bill would allow McHenry County to eliminate certain units of excessive government.

The bill was written to directly mirror former Republican State Senator and current DuPage County Chairman, Dan Cronin’s, legislation that will save millions by successfully consolidating many layers of government in DuPage County.

Franks worked tirelessly with Republicans in a bipartisan way to help get his bill passed in the House.  [All state representatives with any part of McHenry County voted in favor, except Mike Tryon.]

On the 61- House roll call of Jack Franks' consolidation authorization bill, all state representatives with any part of McHenry County voted in favor.

On the 61- 40-4 House roll call of Jack Franks’ consolidation authorization bill, all state representatives with any part of McHenry County voted in favor, except Mike Tryon.

Once his bill was passed, it was immediately sent over to the Senate.

The bill must also pass in the Senate before the governor can sign the bill into law.

This is where the confusion begins. Rep. Franks’ good government bill, that was originally written by a Republican and directly reflects Governor Rauner’s agenda, came over to the Senate in April.

Pam Althoff

Pam Althoff

In the Senate, Pam Althoff (R) quickly maneuvered to sign on as the chief sponsor of the bill and I signed on as a co-sponsor.

As chief sponsor of the legislation according to Senate rules, Althoff is responsible for the bill.

She has the exclusive authority to advance the bill.

Instead of moving the legislation along for a vote, Althoff is instead attempting to alter or kill the bill.

Why?

Her efforts to water down Franks’ bill and exclude some of McHenry County’s most wasteful units of government from being consolidated is baffling.

McHenry County career politician, Sen. Althoff’s, top priority should be to cut wasteful government spending and lower our property taxes – NOT try to protect her friends’ cushy government jobs.

I may be wrong, but Sen. Althoff needs to explain her actions.

I think it would be a good idea if McHenry County residents ask Senator Althoff what her plan for HB 229 really is.

I am in my second term in the State Senate and have learned that things are not always what they appear to be in Springfield.

Behind the scenes political maneuvers and secret deals are completed on a daily basis down in the state Capitol.

I think it is important to communicate with constituents by all means possible and appreciate this opportunity to share my concerns about HB 229 with you.

I did not run for office to make political friends.

I ran for office to encourage job growth, fight corruption and keep taxes low. Those are my top priorities and as long as I serve in the Senate, I will continue to focus on those priorities.

= = = = =
There are two tax districts which were created by voter referendum that might be affected by this legislation:

McHenry County Conservation District
McHenry County 708 Mental Health Board

Both have boards appointed by the McHenry County Board.

Putting them directly under the McHenry County Board would add much power to that level of government.

  • The Conservation District spent $22.1 million in Fiscal 2014.
  • The Mental Health Board spent $9.75 million for the same Fiscal Year.

The only impact of Franks’ last consolidation bill was to allow the Nunda and Richmond Township Cemetery Districts to be absorbed by their townships.


Comments

Duffy Criticizes Althoff — 15 Comments

  1. I’m confused here.

    As I understand it, doesn’t Althoff’s amendment merely exempt two entities that were created by voter referendum?

    Isn’t that allowing 13 members of the County Board the power to overturn the will of the electorate?

    Is there a hidden agenda hiding in this brouhaha?

    Whether or not it’s intentional, doesn’t this controversy act like a red herring in drawing attention away from what should be the main topic – discovering what savings can be realized by consolidating which districts.

    That will take detailed study as Cal suggested in his April 21 post

  2. To clarify a couple of points that I have heard on this:

    (1) Although it is possible to abolish both of these entities by referendum, it requires something like 9000 valid signatures at the present time, a major task;

    (2) Although the County Board would have the power under this legislation to abolish some boards, the voters could place a back door referendum on the ballot with only 200 signatures, so I have no doubt that would happen;

    (3) The levies would remain in place even if the boards were to be abolished and the same services could be continued;

    (4) I do not believe that the political will would be there at present to abolish either the MHB or the MCCD but having that power in reserve would make those boards more responsive to elected representatives. Currently, as we are constantly reminded, the County Board has no say in what either of those boards do, and can only appoint members when their terms expire, and approve the overall budgets with no line item authority, so the budgets are always approved.

    Not saying I am in favor one way or the other, but I wanted to take out some Red Herrings that have been put out there.

  3. Mike, correct me if I’m misinterpreting your response, but you seem to be implying that the real issue here is County Board line item budget approval power over these two agencies rather than tax savings through consolidation.

  4. There is no way to get the line item authority under the statutes so long as those types of boards exist.

    All we can do is appoint the board members periodically as their terms come up or they resign, and approve the entire budget up or down.

    The closest we ever came to the latter was when the PHHS committee had a meeting with only four people, three of whom were Kurtz, Hammerand and myself, and we voted down the entire Mental Health Board budget.

    Tina was in the room and had a fit.

    It would have been overturned by the full Board so we used it as leverage to force a meeting with the MHB finance committee and wagged our fingers at them, but that was as far as it went.

    If the County Board at least had abolition authority it would operate as a Sword of Damocles to hold over their heads so actual abolition might not become necessary.

    As it stands now, however, they can pretty much thumb their noses at us.

    My beef, btw, is much more with the MHB than the MCCD, but to get authority over one we have to get authority over both it appears.

  5. There are really two separate issues here.

    One is does Illinois have too many independent taxing bodies.

    The answer to that is obvious.

    The second is should County Boards have more say over the independent taxing bodies beyond the appointment power and overall budget approval.

    These boards were deliberately set up this way to “keep politics out”.

    However, that also makes them less accountable.

    Appointing a member to one of the boards is somewhat like appointing a Supreme Court justice.

    You have no control over them once the appointment is made.

    I used to routinely ask every applicant who they viewed as their consituents as a member of the board to which they were applying.

    Virtually none said “the taxpayers”.

    Once on these boards they tend to view their constituency as the client community for that board and look to the agency staff more or less uncritically rather than seeing themselves as watchdogs for the general public and taxpayers.

    Add to that that some of them are in the industry that the board is involved with, such as with the MHB.

    If you are in the mental health industry and become a gadfly on the MHB that is not going to help you in your job or in trying to get employment elsewhere from an agency they might give grants to.

    On the other hand, if you are a go along on the board, you enhance your ability to get jobs in the industry after you leave the board as people with think you have good connections which will help them get or keep their grants.

    So it is an inherent conflict of interest.

  6. Thanks again for your detailed response.

    You see both agencies’ budgets.

    Is Senator Duffy correct when he characterizes MCCD and the MHB as “some of McHenry County’s most wasteful units of government?”

  7. Senator Duffy, Jack Franks bill is flawed, and Pam is right on this issue. Politician’s who often seem to be self serving shouldn’t be deciding on their own what forms of gov agencies are good or bad for us, that should be directly voted on by the people.

    We voted them in, and if you think they should be eliminated or consolidated, we should vote on that.

    In fact the measure should be a 2/3 vote to stop the as the wind blows nonsense.

    Big Gov has historically cost more, you know that so why create more of it?

    The only way to save any $$$$ is to cut services, and good luck with that.

    Time to stop playing on the anti gov nonsense and prove with numbers and fact that what YOU wish will actually be good for us all.

    The simple fact is we need to take the power to raise taxes, levies, and borrow, away from the elected unless they come to us for approval with a vote.

    This whole deal seems more like a few trying to grab more power for themselves, not save us a dime.

    Prove me wrong, Please!

  8. We need some government, how much will be debated till the end of the earth.

    As tax payers we must take away some of the power/decision making away from our elected officials, spending and setting tax rates.

    These two issues were a problem that were never addressed properly when the Constitution was written, but should have been, but the partisan nonsense started already way back then of over spending and borrowing to buy votes.

    Spending must always match actual revenue available at the time, ie what we are willing to give in the form of taxation.

    Borrowing should only be allowed for World Wars, not police actions like we’ve had since 1945.

    Even weather disasters should be budgeted for, they’re regular enough, and we should be able to budget for them to some degree.

    Individual Income tax rates and Property tax rates should not be roller coasters of ever changing rates that just leads to insecurity for the tax payer not knowing what is coming next from the elected to buy votes.

    The class warfare thing must be put in the grave; it’s just dividing the country more and could lead to more and more divisive actions in the future.

    We all need skin in the game, and it should be equal skin.

    I would propose we force our elected by Petition, which is allowed in the constitution, to enact a Balanced Budget Amendment that has the income tax rate and/or property tax rate control tied to it.

    The Congress, State, and Local gov agencies will only be allowed to adjust the income or property tax rates after a 2/3 approval vote within its legal boundary, ¾ vote would be better.

    Our choice with a strong majority vote behind changes, not the Pacs controlling the partisan as the wind blows hacks.

    I’d prefer a Flat income tax with no deductions at least till we start paying off the debt in a manner that has a time limit attached to it.

    Gov agencies that use Property taxes should have no levy power, whatever the home value up or down; the rate we voted on determines what is paid in taxes.

    Not enough as most elected seem to keep saying, then come to us with your yearly recommendations and let us vote 2/3 for any change from the year before.

  9. Whackamole:

    The MHB certainly is a poster child for waste.

    To give an example, we have something called the Senior Services Grant Commission (SSGC).

    It gets about $1.7 M per year from a voter approved referendum tax for providing senior services.

    All of the members of the PHHS committee are on it plus 12 (I believe) community members.

    They have one marathon meeting every year where they decide how to give out those funds to about 2 dozen different organizations that submit applications.

    We use an existing staff person in the county (formerly the deputy administrator, now someone from P & D) to do the paperwork.

    The total cost to the county is maybe around $50K.

    By contrast, the MHB gives out about $7-8M per year currently to a roughly equal number of agencies.

    They keep about $3M of their levy to do so, have a $4M building which sits mostly empty, and have a staff of between 30 and up to close to 50 at one point.

    They also paid their long time board attorney around $200K in one year to represent them in a lawsuit where they already had a completely free insurance defense counsel.

    The county has a free attorney in the State’s Attorney’s Office.

    Who do you think could do this more cheaply?

  10. Mike- Wow!

    Definitely the poster child.

    Are there options in the existing MHB legislation that would provide a possible solution?

  11. I haven’t seen the bill but if the County Board at least had the option to dismantle the MHB that could give us some leverage.

    Then if they don’t clean up their act enough CB members might want to consider doing something.

    Right now even if we had the authority I don’t see the votes being there, especially not on the current PHHS committee. .

  12. Walkup has the courage to answer.

    Althoff and the other legislators don’t.

    Thorsen responds too.

    I assure you, ALL the local politicians are reading this.

  13. Using Mike’s logic, this legislation would grant the Board the power to END the waste of taxpayer dollars on the Police force maintained by the Conservation District.

    I do not believe we need to pay a MCCD employee close to $100,000 per year to open and close gates.

    Gasser’s posting of the MCCD Police recruiting video says it all.

  14. So Miss Kissler, do you remember your conversation with Mary McCann where you said Gasser was wrong about the motorcycles?

    In your own police recruitment video you feature some bad ass Harleys.

    Just how many motor cycles does MCCD have and just how much did each one cost?

    In case you forgot here is your police recruitment video which everyone can watch.

    It is only four minutes but there are several motorcycles featured with at least one shot of two motorcycles.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dW8t7uKV1ek

    I wouldn’t have said a word on this but considering who is really standing for what I couldn’t let this slide.

    Poor Gasser, doing all the right things and getting shredded by his own party.

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