Illinois eliminates 75 boards, commissions

March 11, 2013 12:40:21 PM PDT
With one swipe of a pen, Illinois government became leaner Friday.

Governor Pat Quinn signed an order eliminating 75 state boards and commissions.

The governor's move comes four months after the ABC7 iTeam exposed widespread problems with Illinois boards.

State boards and commissions are intended to draw citizens into government, keep elected leaders honest and make sure tax money isn't wasted. In Illinois, that hasn't gone too well.

As the iTeam reported last November, many boards became vast wastelands of political cronyism and hundreds of other board positions simply went unfilled. It was system that critics called costly and unnecessary.

Until Friday, there were nearly 400 state boards and commissions in Illinois; setting policies that control our workplaces, the highways we drive on, some of the stores where we shop and schools are children attend.

Now, Quinn has signed an executive order, making good on a campaign promise from 2011, to get rid of unnecessary and ineffective panels. The order names 75 boards and commissions to be eliminated or consolidated.

The move will leave Illinois with 317 state panels, the vast majority of which are composed of unpaid, volunteers appointed by the governor.

Last year the I-Team discovered boards had hundreds of open positions; many had multiple vacancies, some had no members at all.

"I think the state needs to take a good look at, do we really need all of those boards?"

Last year, civic watchdog groups and the state auditor general questioned the wisdom of so many panels-especially with so many vacancies.

Friday Governor Quinn gave the ax to many of those deemed unnecessary. Included on the hit list is the Illinois reform commission that was originally formed by the governor, who said the panel would "fumigate state government from top to bottom to make sure there's no corruption."

The governor's office says that the state reform board finished its work several years ago, but the Illinois campaign finance reform task force is still at it and expects to issue a report soon.

Governor's spokesperson Brooke Anderson said Friday night that these board cuts were made for efficiency, not primarily as a cost-saving, but she says eliminating boards compliments Quinn's closure of state facilities that has saved $100 million.

Click here to view the governor's executive order on state boards and commissions