Illinois lawmakers consider scrapping DCEO
2 months ago
A state Senate panel will begin a series of hearings today on a proposal to abolish the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and replace it with a public authority and a private corporation
With the controversy over big tax breaks for Sears Holdings Corp. and CME Group Inc. very much in mind, lawmakers are reviving efforts to revamp the state's economic development operation, which could end up effectively being privatized.
A state Senate panel will meet today in Decatur for the first in a series of hearings on a proposal that, as written, would abolish the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and replace it with a public authority and a private corporation that mostly would be run by corporate officials.
Economic development reform is a priority for Senate President John Cullerton, whose former chief of staff, state Sen. Andy Manar of Staunton, last week introduced his proposal as an amendment to a bill. Business sources say they also hear talk of doing something in the House.
Mr. Manar's proposal is drawing big concern from officials at DCEO, who note that past privatization efforts have had a distinctly mixed record in Illinois and other states. The agency has an operating budget of about $500 million and administers more than $1 billion annually in federal funds, but that figure has caromed up and down with different governors.
“This new private entity would be shielded from public record laws,” DCEO spokeswoman Sandy Jones said. “There would be no transparency. Other states have tried to privatize economic development with terrible results.”
Read more: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130318/BLOGS02/130319822/lawmakers-go-after-states-economic-development-unit#ixzz2NtlCpgtR