Rep. Al Riley Voices Opposition to Gov. Quinn’s Proposal to Reduce State Money to Municipalities

State Rep. Al Riley. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

(The following is from State Rep. Al Riley: This letter was sent to local trustees and mayors due to some misinformation on this issue that they had. I think however, that everyone needs to see my personal view on this topic.)

First of all, my legislative stance on the Governor’s proposal to reduce the Local Government Distributive Fund (LDGF) allocation to municipalities is to oppose it.

My stance is a matter of record and one that I have stated at meetings of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association and the Illinois Municipal League, both locally and in Springfield. I have talked formally and informally with many mayors over the last two months about this and other important issues facing municipalities.

Municipalities are concerned with many issues; fiscal concerns are one of the major ones. All units of government must be concerned and deal with the fiscal realities of the State and our nation. At the same time, it can be said that all units of local government, especially non home rule units, would bear an overbearing share of the pain of losing LGDF dollars.

I’m speaking for myself in this communication, but I don’t think that I would be out of line by saying that virtually all of the legislators in the South Suburbs share my views on the perils of LGDF reduction. It would be difficult to have colleagues who have collaborated with me on significant legislation and capital projects for our region to support such an initiative.

Here are some facts:

  1. In early February, HB1141 (De Luca) was introduced which would have bypassed the General Revenue Fund (GRF) and sent income tax receipts directly to the LGDF. The LGDF would receive the maximum 10%, and would be less likely to suffer from delayed payment issues. The bill did not get to third reading, however.
  2. Another similar bill, SB1921 (Hutchinson) is on second reading in the Senate and will hopefully move next week.
  3. Remember that Governor Quinn’s budget address was in early March; so this issue is not new. The Governor mentioned his support for many of the initiatives we put together for our region; the third airport, I57/I294 Bridge and interchange, the METRA SouthEast Service line, and so forth. He also mentioned his intent to reduce LGDF. Forty-five minutes after his address, South Suburban legislators met with the Governor to talk about the negative effect of such an initiative.
  4. In the last three weeks, I have spoken to the Governor twice about LGDF in meetings with other legislators.
  5. There is no bill currently. Sturm und Drang regarding this issue notwithstanding, there cannot be a vote if there is no bill. We’ve got ten days left so anything is possible; as a separate bill or maybe through the Budget Implementation bill (BIMP).
  6. As far as I know, there was also nothing in the House or Senate proposed budgets that remotely had anything addressing LGDF in them. Senate Republicans proposed a $300 million cut, but that was in a set of individual ideas for areas that could be reduced, from their perspective. They never made it to the proposed budgets.

“Trial balloons” are often floated to gauge an issue’s palatability; everyone knows that. This issue is serious business, however. Having said that, one must always keep their perspective. LDGF reductions were posited by the Executive Branch last year and never happened. “Delaying” or “keeping at FY2011 levels” is being mentioned currently.

The extremely fluid situation is changing as I write this communication to you, so we should all be vigilant, but measured in our conclusions. All of us have tough jobs. It’s not easy sitting in any of our seats, especially those of us who represent large numbers of people and myriad interests.

We must deal with facts, however. You can’t legislate or govern by innuendo, anecdote or diatribe. I won’t. We haven’t gotten this far, especially in the last few years, by not being prudent, not asking questions and by not respecting each other’s responsibilities.

Please contact me or one of the other area legislators in the next ten days as the issue about LGDF becomes more clear.