First posted at First Electric Newspaper

One of four bills to extend DuPage County’s pilot government consolidation program statewide passed a House committee Wednesday while over the in the Senate the Local Government Committee announced a series of hearings next week on various consolidation bills aimed at shrinking local government.

Senate President John Cullerton said through a spokesman that he wants legislation this year to address the consolidation issue.  “There is interest in work going on to hopefully produce a package to focus on government consolidation,” said James Patterson. “It’s my understanding the focus is to make it easier for voters to reduce the number of governmental entities.”

A bipartisan group of lawmakers and stakeholders called Transform Illinois held a news conference in Springfield Wednesday to push consolidation measures they say would streamline government.  “What I think we’re all trying to do is to get together to empower the locals to let them have the opportunity to transform their government as they want it,” said State Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat. “Because right now they don’t have the ability to do so.”

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said without reform, consolidation’s to hard to do.  “It’s very clever how these laws are drafted and how the roots go so deep and the ability to dissolve, even by vote or initiative, is practically impossible,” he said.

In this session, there are at least 22 different consolidation bills pending in the General Assembly. Supporters say that’s a measure of how big the problem of government proliferation is in Illinois.  Skeptics charge it shows how attractive an easy-sounding fix is in an election year.