Home Rule: The Most Insidious Form of Government Anywhere in the United States of America
“Home Rule means Home Ruin.”
– Jim Tobin, President of Taxpayer Education Foundation (TEF).
In 1970, Illinois adopted a new constitution that designated any municipality with a population greater than 25,000 as a home rule unit. In addition, municipalities can vote to adopt Home Rule, or repeal Home Rule if they already have it. “Illinois Home Rule gives unlimited taxing power to bureaucrats,” said Jim Tobin, President of Taxpayer Education Foundation (TEF).
In some cases, Home Rule even takes away citizens’ right to vote on vital city issues and limits citizens’ voice in government mayoral and council elections. “Taxpayers are effectively muzzled, except at election time, and even then, their choices are limited,” according to Tobin.
The Constitution of the United States of America does not mention local governments. Local governments are created by and regulated by the states. This means that to speak about cities or other forms of local government in the United States is to speak about fifty different legal and political situations.
The Illinois version of so-called Home Rule strips citizens of control over local politicians’ power to tax, to regulate, and to incur debt. The Illinois version denies citizens the right to have a local charter or constitution to protect taxpayers from abuse or incompetence by office holders and from the hazard of easy access to public funds for developers, lawyers, bankers, and government workers.
Illinois bypasses the people of the community and puts all the power of local government into the hands of politicians. That’s why students of government and political science have described the Illinois version of so-called home rule as the most insidious form of government anywhere in the United States of America. It is government by personality instead of government by principle.
Without the controls of a local charter or constitution, and with citizens stripped of their right to vote on city issues, so-called Home Rule in Illinois empowers politicians to:
1) Raise taxes without citizen permission.
2) Impose new taxes in the form of fees, licenses, and regulations.
3) Expedite seizures of private property.
4) Give city property to private interests without competitive bidding.
5) Take greater control over citizens’ lives, livelihoods, property, and liberty.
The solution: Local taxpayer groups in Home Rule municipalities need to mount a massive educational campaign to alert the taxpayers in their areas, and must run a well-organized petition drive to place the issue of repealing Home Rule on the local ballot. Taxpayers United of America has used TEF’s Home Rule research to educate the public for nearly four decades, resulting in 206 victories against Home Rule in Illinois. Dismantling Home Rule unlimited taxing power will take research, education, and organization to fight back against the bureaucrats – but it can be done.
*This synopsis is largely based on an excellent, extremely thorough analysis of Home Rule by John Gile, who was the chief spokesperson for the repeal movement in 1983 that repealed Home Rule in Rockford, IL.
The full report can be found at http://citydesk.us/homerule.html