SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois House today rejected a plan to give voters the option to eliminate the salaries for members of the DuPage County Forest Preserve District board.
In an unusually heated debate, state Rep. Deborah Conroy, an Elmhurst Democrat, argued that times are tough and lawmakers who just Thursday voted to cut the state's lieutenant governor's job shouldn't have a problem doing the same for the local board.
"This is money that can be saved for the taxpayers of DuPage County," she said.
A majority disagreed, and the plan lost 48-60. "How about doing something with substance instead of pandering," said state Rep. Jim Durkin, a Western Springs Republican.
The six board members make $53,500 per year each. Lawmakers who voted against Conroy's plan said the state shouldn't be getting involved with a local issue.
But the board has been a topic for discussion in Springfield on a couple fronts as state Rep. Dennis Reboletti, an Elmhurst Republican, had proposed eliminating the forest board and giving the duties to the DuPage County Board.
Reboletti didn't support Conroy's plan.
"This is the wrong way to go about dealing with salaries for an elected body," Reboletti said.
Conroy found an ally, though, in state Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat. Franks said state lawmakers were the ones who separated the forest district board from the county board originally, so it would make sense for state officials to weigh in on this, too.
Conroy didn't move to keep the legislation alive for a future second chance at approval, so it's likely dead for the year.
"I think our legislators realized that Rep. Conroy's bill set a bad precedent," said forest preserve district President D. Dewey Pierotti Jr. "The state legislature realized that their focus shouldn't be on local issues."