Illinois Municipal League

BRIAN MACKEY / NPR ILLINOIS

  As Illinois attempts to balance its books, it’s dipping into pots of money meant to help cities and towns pay for services -- and local officials are looking for options.

One idea is to make it easier for smaller cities to gain home-rule status, which allows those towns to have more flexibility in how they operate. Home-rule governments can borrow more money for big road projects, set more zoning rules, and institute sales and gas taxes.

Wilhelm Joy Sanderson/Flickr

Columnist Charlie Wheeler says there are serious consequences under Gov. Bruce Rauner's tax proposal.  

City governments across Illinois are asking to have their state funding passed along automatically. It’s the latest consequence of Illinois’ 20-month budget stalemate.

The money in question comes from taxes on gasoline, phone bills, and gambling. Normally, it's collected by the state and passed along to local governments.  However, the lack of a state budget has complicated this process.  

State of Illinois

Illinois mayors and first responders want state lawmakers to protect them from lawsuits when responding to emergencies.

Brad Cole, with the Illinois Municipal League, says there was a long-held notion that government employees could serve the general public without fear of being sued. But he says the Illinois Supreme Court recently struck down that principle.

Cole says he wants a law passed to bring it back.

Illinois' pension law might serve as a model for an overhaul of local government retirement systems. The Illinois Municipal League says if the law survives a court challenge, they hope lawmakers approve a similar plan that would address rising pension costs for cities.