Rauner agency privatization idea raises oversight concerns

CHAMPAIGN (AP) — Gov. Bruce Rauner says his plan to privatize the state’s economic development agency will improve job creation in Illinois.
 
But similar plans elsewhere have sometimes created concerns about transparency and oversight, with taxpayers not always knowing how their money is being spent.
 
Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and other states have experienced problems. In some cases private development agencies have overstated how many jobs they help create.
 
Jim Schultz is Rauner’s new director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. He says a private corporation would be freer to quickly negotiate deals. It could also pay more to recruit good employees.
 
But skeptics like state Rep. Jack Franks aren’t sure. He worries the new plan could shroud deals from scrutiny by taxpayers and others.