Commission created to help revive Illinois misses initial report deadline

(The Center Square) – Add the Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission to the list of recent commissions state lawmakers formed that missed important benchmarks.

The commission lawmakers created in May was meant to work with the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to help find ways to revive the state’s economy post COVID. The commission’s first report was due July 1. No report was published. The DCEO didn’t return messages seeking comment.

State Rep. Dan Caulkins, a Republican member of the commission, said they haven’t even met.

“People are hurting, our constituents need guidance and I think that there’s a role to play for the General Assembly,” said Caulkins, R-Decatur. “I’m really disappointed that this committee hasn’t met and I’m really disappointed that there hasn’t been more urgency.”

He said it’s another in a list of recent commissions or task forces on important issues that fell flat.

Last year’s task force on reducing property taxes missed its final report deadline. The ethics and lobbying reform commission created to address corruption and other ethical issues missed its end-of-March deadline as the COVID-19 pandemic washed through the nation.

As for the Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission, the majority leader appointed to the group, state Rep. Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen Park, didn’t return messages seeking comment. DCEO didn’t respond to requests for comment on why the report was not issued.

Caulkins said the lack of response from leaders on the commission is telling.

“It appears that the governor and Mr. [Michael] Madigan don’t care for our input,” Caulkins said.

Last week, state Rep. Fred Crespo, a Democratic member of the committee, said it’s not just Republicans with frustrations “but from Democrats.”

“And they’ve felt that oftentimes they’ll reach out to the administration and they will not get a response back and what we’re hoping is that with this commission we will structure something that will be a give and take,” said Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates.

“I look forward to meeting with my colleagues on this important commission,” said state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego. “It is my understanding that all appointments have been made and we are ready to begin meeting. DCEO is to provide us with a report [Wednesday] and I believe that it is important for DCEO, and other agencies, to work with the Legislators so that Illinois can have the best policies going forward.”

It’s unclear when the commission will meet or alone issue its first report. It’s supposed to issue reports every 30 days.

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