One of the themes throughout a report by Gov. Bruce Rauner's transition team is efficiency.
The transition team leaders, who looked at nearly all aspects of state government and offered recommendations on how to make things better, recognized that state and local government in Illinois is fragmented, inefficient and expensive.
The impact of the transition report, titled “Building a Better Illinois,'' is difficult to assess. While the co-chairs who authored the report are a list of state heavy hitters, the document itself is more a list of good intentions than a solid plan. In addition, parts of the plan will undoubtedly be hard to implement in the politically-charged environment in Springfield.
But one of its better elements is that it takes into account the view of the taxpayers, instead of relying on the views from government.
The report recognizes, for example, that a fragmented and overlapping state and local government structure does not serve the state's residents well.
The transition team reports the number of local government units in the state is 6,693, easily the most in the nation. Texas, with the second highest number, has about 1,800 fewer local governmental units.
Rauner's transition team emphasizes that streamlining needs to occur at both the state and the local level. The transition team also recognizes the state's poor financial situation, and the subsequent siphoning off of funds, has had a negative impact on local government.
The report calls for a “high-ranking'' state official to lead an effort to rationalize and streamline local government, starting with an overall review of state agencies and how they interact with local governments. The goal is to streamline government, but the report also says some layers of government should be considered for elimination.
There are examples the state could follow, such as efforts in DuPage County to require local governments to work together on strategic and capital issues, or efforts in Missouri to better serve communities that have major infrastructure needs.
The transition report also states that in many cases, state and local governments could be more efficient through greater uses of information technology that may require an upfront investment.
During the campaign, Rauner talked often of property tax relief. That's a tricky issue, especially since local governments are funded largely through property taxes.
A better solution than simply cutting property taxes is to work on the goals set out by the transition team to reduce the costs and improve the efficiency of local and state government.