About 400 state jobs now located mostly in Chicago have been identified to return to Illinois’ capital city, and a law signed Thursday will make that happen, potentially saving state taxpayers millions and significantly boosting Springfield’s economy.
Years ago, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich moved hundreds of state jobs out of Springfield and to the Chicago region. State Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, R-Leland Grove, said policy makers have been reviewing how to move those jobs back to the Springfield area. That work led to a bipartisan measure to return them back to the capital city.
“We don’t want to uproot anyone currently,” Jimenez said. “This is going forward. So what the agencies will do is evaluate those jobs and if there isn’t a particular reason it needs to be in a different part of the state, then it needs to be in Sangamon County.”
Jimenez said locating more employees centrally could save state taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in travel.
“So there needs to be some travel, but the total travel we saw over a five-year period was $126 million,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez said some state travel is necessary, but the measure Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Thursday should help cut that down.
Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder said the move was a tough political position for some but in the end he hopes the move reverses a trend the city has suffered for years
“With downtown Springfield, people comment about the vacancies and that was all caused by the exodus of state government, plus the downturn of the economy,” Langfelder said.
Rauner said there will be economic benefits for the capital region by bringing back “highly productive” state government professionals with good incomes.
“They’re going to be homeowners and renters and participants in the economy here, of goods and services and this brings in significant new revenue,” Rauner said.
He also said with the lower cost of living, tax dollars on state government salaries will go much further.
The measure exempts state employees who work for the constitutional office holders.