National Implications in Illinois
May 22, 2017
Loyal viewer Marty Wittig from Leaf River, Illinois touches on an IL problem with national implications.
"Less than 22% of the eligible voters turned out for the last election April 4th in my county of Ogle County. That is disgusting. Some uncontested positions had over 20% under votes. I think that much under voting shows disgust of the status quo. There are over 9,000 agencies in Illinois. That's more than Texas or California and each other state has more population and more land mass than Illinois. That raises the question do we have too many agencies?"
Short answer is "Yes, indeed," Marty. Some explanation for people outside the Land of Lincoln. All but the blue counties are divided into townships. Townships are enabled by our 1848 Constitution to do three things 1) assess property 2) maintain local roads, 3) provide general assistance to the poor. This is done by electing 4 township board members, a supervisor, and usually a road commissioner. In addition, Illinois has drainage districts, library boards, fire protection districts, cemetery and school boards, and other units of government each requiring personnel and a line on your property tax bill.
This made sense when our state was thirty years old and farms were 80 acres. Local control provided services more responsively. But it's almost 300 years since we became a state and our 8 million citizens overwhelmingly live in cities. It's past time to get rid of our 1431 townships, but efforts continually run into the considerable clout of the Township Officials Association, which as Marty points out, by their numbers alone constitute a considerable portion of the tiny number of voters.
Government designed for a different era leaves many of us with a recruiting problem and inefficient services - not to mention bloated tax bills. That's one big reason I don't automatically think local control better than county or state jurisdiction. And if you watch carefully, many of those burdensome regulations farmers complain about originate with such local boards. Too much government can begin at the bottom, not just the top.