Rauner pushes privatization as more efficient for IL Government; History raises some questions

Source: Brett Chase, Reboot Illinois, December 14, 2015

Rauner said the downtown Chicago office tower isn’t the only property being eyed for sale as he’s reviewing all Illinois-owned assets, including those in central and downstate Illinois. His comments follow a union’s earlier disclosure that Rauner is asking state workers for more latitude to seek private operators for government services. As Illinois falls short of cash, faces declining revenue and wrestles with more than $100 million in unfunded pension obligations, Rauner is signaling that one way to ease those financial burdens is by spinning off government assets and services to private operators for millions of dollars and likely more. It’s not a new idea: Past governors from Jim Edgar to Pat Quinn embraced aspects of outsourcing.

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Selling off Illinois
Brett Chase, Illinois Times, December 10, 2015

Rauner said the downtown Chicago office tower isn’t the only property being eyed for sale as he’s reviewing all Illinois-owned assets, including those in central and southern Illinois. His comments follow a union’s earlier disclosure that Rauner is asking state workers for more latitude to seek private operators for government services. As Illinois falls short of cash, faces declining revenue and wrestles with more than $100 million in unfunded pension obligations, Rauner is signaling that one way to ease those financial burdens is by spinning off government assets and services to private operators for millions of dollars and likely more. It’s not a new idea. Past governors, from Jim Edgar to Pat Quinn, embraced aspects of outsourcing. But the state’s past ham-handed execution of private deals – from a veterans home to the lottery to health care for prisoners – illustrates why privatization is no panacea or cure-all.

Thompson Center the latest symbol of state stalemate
Source: Rich Miller, Crain’s Chicago Business, October 16, 2015

Gov. Bruce Rauner said last week that he had spoken with both Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan about his proposed sale of the state’s Thompson Center building in Chicago and that both men were “forward-leaning and positive” about the plan. So I checked in with the legislative leaders, and that’s not exactly what I heard. … Check out the joint statement released last week by the House and Senate Republican leaders regarding the proposed sale. “We filed House Bill 4313 and Senate Bill 2187 at the request of Gov. Rauner. The James R. Thompson Center is in complete disarray due to years of neglect by previous administrations, and better utilizing this asset would benefit Illinois taxpayers tremendously. It has become a white elephant for the state of Illinois. This legislation will enable us to review all of our options to maximize the overall value of the property and secure the greatest savings for taxpayers.” Notice anything missing? How about a pledge to work cooperatively with others in the General Assembly to achieve the governor’s goal?

House GOP leader proposes plan to speed Thompson Center sale
Source: Sophia Tareen, Quad-City Times, October 15, 2015

Plans to speed up the sale of the state-government owned James R. Thompson Center, and potentially avoid a lengthy public comment period, have been submitted at Gov. Bruce Rauner’s request, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said Thursday. Earlier this week the GOP governor announced intentions to sell the 16-story downtown Chicago building he called a “wasteful” use of government resources requiring roughly $100 million in maintenance. Rauner said his plan was to move roughly 2,200 state employees to offices nearby or in Springfield and put the building up for public auction within a year. Legislation proposed Wednesday by Durkin also detailed options to sell or lease through a sealed competitive bidding process or launch a public-private partnership. The proposal also alters how appraisals are used and allows Rauner to skip requirements that the building first be available for sale to other public entities like the city. … No specifics have been announced on where employees will go, including those working for statewide elected officers in the building. There’s also the unanswered question of how a sale will impact commuters. The Thompson Center is connected to a busy Chicago Transit Authority hub and underground pedestrian tunnel.