Republican legislative leaders on Tuesday accused Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn of tapping into a $20 million pot of cash to dangle in front of groups whose support he wants in the fall election, saying the effort “looks and smells” like a new version of the 2010 anti-violence program now under state and federal scrutiny.
The money Republicans highlighted represents a new allocation to the Illinois Department of Labor for social programs similar to those in Quinn’s much-criticized Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. Quinn aides, however, maintained the money is going into job-training programs established even before the 2010 anti-violence initiative began.
Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno contended Quinn “squirreled away” the new funds and already has directed $11.5 million to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Department of Human Services. She wondered whether the money would be misspent, saying it “looks and smells just like” the 2010 program and questioning whether the Quinn administration had learned from previous mistakes. […]
House Republican leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs recounted how GOP lawmakers were stonewalled when they sought explanations from Democratic lawmakers about the purpose of the money when it was inserted into the budget during the end of the spring session. Durkin warned the new dollars come with the same “fingerprints” as Quinn’s flawed 2010 initiative.
The charge carries little weight. This is a legit jobs program being run mainly by DCEO, which has run summer jobs programs for years.
* Greg Hinz…
The money is going to a job-training program with “rigorous” standards that involves both DCEO and DHS, the spokesman said. “DCEO has for many years — long before the defunct NRI program began — run several job training programs for youth and young adults that continue today.”
A source with knowledge of the matter said Mr. Quinn did not ask for the money and that it was inserted in the budget at the last minute at the behest of House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Mr. Madigan’s spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.
Appropriating money for one department that ends up being spent by another is not unheard-of in government. But given the NRI experience, the subject is particularly sensitive now, with federal prosecutors confirming they are probing the MRI expenditures.
Greg is absolutely right at the end. Quinn’s botched (or worse) 2010 anti-violence program taints any and all attempts to address the issue this summer and fall.
* From the governor’s office…
The General Assembly allocated $20 million to the Dept. of Labor for “grants to state and local agencies and community providers for at-risk community support programs, after school programs, and youth employment opportunities.”
This program is employing more than 5,000 youth and young adults and we are carrying it with rigorous controls and strict oversight.
The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has for many years - long before the defunct NRI program began - run several job training programs for youth and young adults that continue today. These programs are competitively-bid. Inter-governmental agreements allow DCEO and the Department of Human Services to administer these grant programs under strict oversight.
The link to the grant program is here.