Officials discuss ideas, reforms at legislative breakfast
Republican county and state officials shared updates and possibilities on a variety of topics Thursday at a legislative breakfast hosted by the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce.
Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor was joined by 26th District state Sen. Dan McConchie, of Hawthorn Woods, who was appointed in April to fill the seat left open by Dan Duffy's resignation, and 51st District state Rep. Ed Sullivan Jr., of Mundelein, who has served 14 years but is not seeking another term.
Sixth District U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton provided a video message.
The speakers poked Democratic counterparts at times during discussion of state budget, pension and other issues. However, for the most part, the discussion and question-and-answer session was more a straightforward look at how things came to be and how they might be addressed. The 40 guests included many elected officials or staff from local governments.
Roskam focused on business issues and the Republican blueprint for tax reform. He said the tax code, last updated in 1986, is out of date in a business environment that has changed dramatically.
"We've got a tax code that's not working for us," he said. "Let's reform it and let's update it." Simplifying the tax code, consolidating credits to reduce the tax rate, reforming the IRS and basing government regulation on facts rather than "politics and bumper stickers" were other needed actions, according to Roskam.
At the state level, financial uncertainty is affecting the county budgeting process, Lawlor said, as about $135 million in revenue of the $414 million budget comes from or is funneled through the state. County department heads have been asked to submit scenarios with 2 percent and 5 percent cuts across the board, he added. Lawlor said a push to consolidate agencies, such as drainage districts or dispatch centers, continues to improve efficiency and save money.
Sullivan said the temporary state budget wasn't a good solution, but linking money for Chicago schools to pension reforms was a good aspect. He also touted the new Intersect Illinois agency as something business should look forward to. He urged a "yes" vote for the "lock box" ballot item to stop the state from diverting money from road projects.
He predicted a tax increase proposal is likely in the next six months, but he wouldn't support one "just to add money to a broken system."
McConchie said the dysfunction in state government is "very real" but there is "discontent in the ranks" and a move toward some saying they've had enough.
He is one of 20 members of the educational reform funding commission.
"My goal long-term is to get a (school) funding formula that relies a little bit less on property taxes," he said.