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NWMC
1600 East Golf Road
Suite 0700
Des Plaines, IL 60016
Phone: 847-296-9200
Fax: 847-296-9207

2018 Legislative Program

On January 27, The Northwest Municipal Conference (NWMC) unveiled its 2018 Legislative Program to a large crowd of legislators and municipal officials.
 
2018 NWMC Legislative Program
 
The 2018 NWMC Legislative Program implores lawmakers to restore local revenues, reduce inefficiencies in our public safety pension systems and renew a commitment to infrastructure investment.  We want to see our state lawmakers work as governing partners with us to address our common goals and improve the lives of our common constituents.

Restore Critical Local Government Revenues

Illinois’ 2017 budget hurt local governments.  By cutting local government revenues, state lawmakers have not solved, but instead transferred, the state budget crisis onto local governments and taxpayers.  The NWMC has repeatedly warned about the damage cuts to local government revenues will do to communities.  This is no longer a hypothetical exercise.  The state has forced municipalities to grapple with whether to raise taxes and fees or cut vital services and personnel.  Some NWMC communities will lose over $1 million this fiscal year due to the state budget cuts. 
 
The struggles forced on local governments in the state budget are real and bear significant consequences.  In future state budgets, The NWMC urges state lawmakers to restore local government revenues to their former levels.  Additionally, to provide consistent revenue and stable critical services going forward, state lawmakers should make all state collected local revenues continuing appropriations.  This change would be consistent with current state appropriations from the income and sales tax.

Reduce Public Safety Pension Inefficiencies

The NWMC fully recognizes the constraints the Illinois Constitution, as interpreted by Illinois Supreme Court, place upon pension reform.  Our communities continue to meet the obligations for public safety pensions as directed by the General Assembly.  This program contains no proposals to diminish pension benefits.  Acknowledging that fact, we must also acknowledge that public safety pensions continue to weigh heavily on taxpayers and local budgets.  At a time when the state has constrained local revenues, state lawmakers, in coordination with local partners, must work as diligently to reduce local pension costs.
 
Consolidation options exist for the state’s inefficient public safety pension system.  The Pension Fairness for Illinois Communities Coalition has examined a variety of consolidation models ranging from full consolidation into IMRF to partial consolidation of investments only.  The next step is for state lawmakers to direct the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) to examine the multiple options to identify transition costs and anticipated savings from various consolidation options.  The NWMC continues to believe that consolidation into IMRF, a model pension fund, will result in the lowest transition costs while significantly increasing investment returns.

Renew Local Infrastructure Investment

In 2010, the same year the state passed pension reform legislation, Illinois made a commitment to renew state and local infrastructure through the Illinois Jobs Now program.  Eight years after that capital program, state infrastructure spending has significantly dwindled.  Traditional transportation funding mechanisms in Illinois have lost significant purchasing power, and the Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) faces a declining future as vehicles become more fuel efficient.  While revenues are dwindling, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and local agencies continue to report mounting infrastructure backlogs. 
 
The unfortunate reality is that the state’s infrastructure needs extend beyond transportation.  Aging sewer and water infrastructure, especially in established communities, coupled with enhanced stormwater and watershed regulations continue to place a significant financial burden on many communities.  Current state programs and statutes limit access to funding and low-interest loans.  If municipalities are going to address capital needs, they will need creative help from the state.
 
The state must develop a reliable source of revenue that can keep pace with system needs and renew our infrastructure.  Maintaining and strengthening Illinois’ role as a transportation hub is critical for the state’s economic success.   In addition, a capital plan will help ensure that Illinois has available matching funds for future federal infrastructure investment.
 
A multi-pronged approach of local grants through agencies like the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) and low-interest loans through the Illinois Environment Protection Agency (IEPA) can help alleviate the financial burden of aging and outdated sewer infrastructure.