The American Planning Association, Illinois chapter, sent out a legislation alert this morning about three bills that would prevent government funds from being used to send employees to conferences.
I wrote the following letter to my two state representatives.
Dear Representative Soto and Illinois Senator Aquino,
I urge you to vote no on the bills HB4246, HB4247, and HB4248 (“bills”).
I am a professional urban planner in Humboldt Park who hopes to have a job with a government agency in Chicago very soon (I’ve applied three times to the same agency, because I want to work there so badly). I have many colleagues, friends, and fellow UIC alumni, who currently work for government agencies in Illinois.
These bills will ban government employees from attending conferences, which is important to government and to these employees for 3 reasons:
1. It’s an opportunity for the worker to learn the latest knowledge, technology, and practices for their line of work. Government agencies should have high quality workers and staying abreast of new ideas in their field is paramount to a high quality government agency.
2. It’s an opportunity for the government agency to share the results of their internal work with a wider audience, gain recognition, and share and receive best practices from other government agencies.
3. Workers who are certified in their respective industries must attend events to receive “continuing education” credits to ensure they can keep their certification. If the employer isn’t paying for this, then the employee is encouraged to find a job elsewhere that will.
I understand that there seems to have been some abuse, at least from what I’ve read in the news about Governor Rauner’s head of the IT department, but these bills are an overbearing and potentially damaging way to deal with that problem.