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* Background is here. Comptroller Mendoza…
Comptroller Susana Mendoza is calling on the General Assembly to immediately override Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of the Debt Transparency Act (House Bill 3649), legislation supported by members from both political parties aimed at arming the legislature and taxpayers with more information about the state’s finances.
“Don’t Illinois taxpayers deserve to know how much debt the state has run up in their names?” Comptroller Mendoza asked.
The state’s unpaid bill backlog more than tripled in the past two years since Governor Rauner was elected, reaching a record high point of more than $15 billion. This exploding debt makes it all the more urgent that policymakers and their constituents receive timely reporting of outstanding bills and the growing interest costs to taxpayers.
The Debt Transparency Act, an initiative of Comptroller Mendoza sponsored by Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates and Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, would require state agencies to disclose monthly to the Comptroller the bills they are holding and estimate the amount of late payment interest penalties that will be paid on those liabilities.
Agencies already have the personnel and infrastructure in place to compile the data, but the information is outdated by the time it is received. Current state law only requires agencies to report on Oct. 1 of each year, the aggregate amount of bills being held on the previous June 30.
In his veto message, the Governor lamented that his staff should not have to work harder to get the numbers out monthly instead of annually. But the truth is, Governor Rauner’s efforts to hold back true numbers from the public cost taxpayers far more than any additional work his staff would have to perform to let the public know the extent of the state’s debt – at least $800 million in late payment interest penalties so far.
“If Rauner does whip out his veto pen, expect words like ‘onerous’ in the message,” the Quad City Times wrote before Governor Rauner vetoed the bill. “It would be a bunk excuse, a dodge that neglects the bill’s obvious links to good budgeting, in either the public or private sector. Those who originally supported the Debt Transparency Act … must stick by their positions and stand up to pressure from the governor’s office.”
“Rather than accuse responsible elected officials of trying to ‘micromanage’ state agencies, the Governor should start managing his agencies’ budgets and honestly disclosing their debts,” Comptroller Mendoza said.
“The level of uncertainty about the amount of debt was made clear recently when the known backlog jumped by $1 billion in a single week as bills for state health insurance, medical services, corrections, human services and more were reported by the Office of Management and Budget,” The Quincy Herald-Whig Editorial Page wrote. “No successful business could be expected to run on such skimpy and outdated financial data, and no government should operate that way, either.”
“The bill holds agencies accountable by requiring they report outstanding bills and interest estimates each month, and it increases transparency for taxpayers because it allows them to find out how much interest they will pay on overdue bills and how long it will take to pay off the penalties,” wrote the
Moline Dispatch/Rock Island Argus editorial board in support of HB 3649. “Even in hopelessly divided Springfield, issues of transparency and accountability should transcend politics.”
The legislation was also supported by the Better Government Association and made the group’s list of “15 good government reforms” approved in the spring legislative session.
The Comptroller’s office estimates that Illinois owes at least $800 million in penalties on its overdue bills. “That’s $800 million of taxpayer money we are just throwing away – it’s not helping kids get day care or go to college. It’s not helping seniors get Meals on Wheels or keep their home health care. It’s money that will never be invested in creating a single job in Illinois” Mendoza said. “I’m disappointed that Governor Rauner vetoed this common sense transparency initiative. Policymakers need this up-to-date fiscal information when making budgeting decisions, and there is no good reason to deny it to them.”
The Quad-City Times editorial board called the Debt Transparency Act “a good piece of legislation that’s in line with the private sector’s best practices.”
* Sen. Andy Manar…
Gov. Bruce Rauner today passed on signing a commonsense law that would save taxpayers millions of dollars in late payment fees because he believes it’s an attempt to “micromanage” state agencies.
It’s another example of how the governor sends mixed messages to the people of Illinois, said Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and the sponsor of House Bill 3649, the proposed Debt Transparency Act, which Rauner vetoed.
“One day Gov. Rauner rails about waste, fraud and abuse in Springfield. The next day, given an opportunity to do something about it, he punts,” Manar said. “It’s maddening.
“Illinois taxpayers shell out $2 million a day in late payment fees and interest because of the state’s bill backlog. This law simply would ask state agencies to help the comptroller manage that debt better by reporting every month on the bills they owe to vendors.”
Illinois’ bill backlog today stands at $14.7 billion.
In addition to micromanagement, Rauner’s reasons for vetoing the legislation included that it’s “time-consuming” and too burdensome because of “asymmetries in technology and variances in the input and calculation of the required information.”
Manar said transparency and accountability aren’t rocket science.
“The only asymmetry we’re dealing with is the amount of complaining versus the amount of action coming out of the governor’s office,” he added.
Rauner vetoed additional Manar-sponsored legislation on Friday, including:
· House Bill 3216, which would add scrutiny to attempts to enter into third-party contracts by the administration when the work could be done by state employees. In March, the governor attempted to outsource the jobs of 124 prison nurses to an out-of-state corporation.
· House Bill 3376, which was hoped to be a compromise to address an ongoing disagreement about overtime caps between the Rauner administration and in-home personal assistants who work with people with disabilities.
* Sen. Daniel Biss…
Daniel Biss released the following statement in response to Governor Rauner’s veto of HB2622, a bill Daniel sponsored to create a state-sponsored workers’ compensation insurance company.
“For two years, we’ve heard Governor Rauner beat a drum about how important it is to reform workers compensation. When given that opportunity, he maintains the status quo — choosing instead to protect the insurance industry and punish injured workers who will continue to bear the brunt of a broken system. Once again, Rauner chooses millionaires over working families.”
* Illini Democrats…
In a Friday afternoon bill signing flurry, Governor Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto of HB 3211, a bill which would make it easier for hungry college students to be alerted and notified of SNAP eligibility.
While many students do just fine with finding food on campus, many face food insecurity. At our campus, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, between 800 and 2000 students face food insecurity every day. Furthermore, food insecurity is worst among first generation college students. Since a program is in the works to allow SNAP recipients to swipe into dining halls, increased notification through this legislation could significantly aid students in need.
In his veto message, Governor Rauner states “with limited resources available, the SNAP identification and promotion process required by this legislation for adult college students who may already have a variety of resources available to identify their eligibility for government aid is not the highest and best use of these agencies’ efforts.”
We feel that notifying potentially hungry students of SNAP eligibility will take minimal resources from ISAC and can go a very long way in helping hungry college students across the state get the nutrition they need to succeed in school. It’s unfortunate that the Governor would veto a strong bipartisan piece of legislation. We support a full override of the amendatory veto.
* Pritzker campaign…
Even Bruce Rauner can’t name a single accomplishment from his time in office, and we know why: because he’s nothing more than Governor Veto. Late Friday, Rauner announced that he vetoed several bills passed by the legislature. This is no surprise given his history of reckless vetoes on a state budget and school funding formula.
Rauner’s vetoes include bills that increase transparency in state spending, expand democratic elections, and let caretakers who serve Illinoisans with disabilities work overtime. These new vetoes come after Rauner suffered five bipartisan veto override votes in five weeks on major pieces of legislation.
“Bruce Rauner has earned himself the title of ‘Governor Veto’ as he continues standing in the way of any efforts to move Illinois forward,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “After vetoing bill after bill, Rauner is unable to name a single accomplishment and Illinois families continue to pay the price.”
I received no press releases in favor of the governor’s vetoes.
* News coverage…
* Rauner vetoes bills on spending transparency, home health care worker OT: Of the bills Rauner did approve, one would require schools to provide feminine hygiene products in bathrooms for free. Supporters say it’s a public health issue that will prevent students from missing class. He also signed into law a bill that will ban employers from requiring low-wage employees from signing noncompete agreements that would prevent them from moving on to new jobs. Rauner said lawmakers should consider expanding the measure.
* Rauner vetoes plan requiring overdue bill reporting
* Rauner signs law to eliminate township collector in Sangamon County: Sangamon is one of only four counties that still have township collectors. The others are Peoria, Will and Madison.
* Rauner signs bill creating agency to govern ALPLM: Rauner created the stand-alone agency for the Lincoln facility by executive order and put the duties of the historic preservation agency under a different department. But lawmakers adopted a law to prevent a future governor from reversing the order.