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Rauner called out on debt transparency veto

Wednesday, Aug 23, 2017

* One of the bills Gov. Rauner vetoed on Friday was this one

Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed legislation that the Democratic comptroller says would help the state manage overdue bills.

The Republican governor rejected on Friday a plan pushed by Comptroller Susana Mendoza. It would require state agencies to regularly report the bills they’ve not yet sent the comptroller for payment.

I took notice of Mendoza not long after she was sworn into the House. She was working hard on some bill that was important to her district and had reached out to Democrats and Republicans alike. After the bill passed with a huge margin, she walked the entire House floor personally thanking each legislator who’d voted for her legislation. I was impressed.

* Comptroller Mendoza did the same sort of thing with editorial boards before Gov. Rauner vetoed her bill. And it’s paying off now. Favorable newspaper editorials generally don’t pass bills, but they don’t hurt, either. From the Daily Herald

In a statement defending his veto, Rauner said the bill “more closely resembles an attempt by the comptroller to micromanage executive agencies than an attempt to get the information most helpful to the monitoring of state government.”

But in truth, micromanaging payment of the state’s bills, within the context of the law and court orders, is precisely the job of the comptroller. Regardless of party, whoever is in that role needs to have a financial snapshot more frequently than once a year. What’s more, lawmakers need a more definite picture of the state’s financial status as they contemplate legislation, and taxpayers need to have that as they evaluate lawmakers and the actions of government.

The past-due balance of bills on the state’s ledger is an unqualified embarrassment for everyone in state government. It is reported to have produced $800 million — and constantly counting — in penalties alone.

No action is going to get such a huge backlog under control immediately, but no opportunity to make the process more manageable should be overlooked. This one could have been undertaken while simultaneously demonstrating the governor is not reflexively opposed to any meaningful legislation Democrats support.

Unfortunately, that leaves it to lawmakers to override the governor in yet another show of contention and discord. We’re disappointed by the appearances, but agree that lawmakers should take it on themselves to create a more reliable and up-to-date system of accounting for the state’s bills.

* Jacksonville Journal-Courier

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the measure Friday. In doing so, he said providing this information monthly would create more work for departments.

That’s not satisfactory. Pardon us if we seem uncaring about government workers having to push a few more buttons or take a few more hours out of their monthly schedule in the name of transparency. Taxpayers are having to work harder than ever to pay the debt, and they deserve to know the realities of state finances down to the penny. […]

Rauner has painted a vision of his administration as one that puts taxpayers ahead of the political status quo.

Yet his veto of legislation that would give a clear and useful accounting of the state’s debt load belies that.

Lawmakers on both sides of the political fence need to do what is best for taxpayers: Demand accountability and override this veto.

The Alton Telegraph ran the same editorial.

* SJ-R

The state of Illinois, as of Friday, owed its vendors about $14.7 billion.

At least, Comptroller Susana Mendoza thinks that’s what the debt is, based on the bills in her office and the ones she is aware of at state agencies.

Ridiculously, state agencies are only required to annually report in October the aggregate amount of bills being held as of June 30. By that point, it’s outdated. Mendoza said there have been four times since she became comptroller in December where a stack of bills that she was unaware of landed in her office. Some were 11 months overdue. One time, it added $1 billion to the backlog of unpaid bills. And, the state must pay penalty interest on those late bills.

Mendoza’s reasonable request is to lose the surprises that add to the already difficult job she has of triaging the state’s checkbook during times of unprecedented financial uncertainty. She wants to have, on a monthly basis, the most accurate snapshot of what the state’s debt is so her office can better manage it.

It’s dumbfounding to think such a policy isn’t already in place, but then again, Illinois isn’t exactly known for having its ducks in a row when it comes to anything financial. Mendoza is championing the Debt Transparency Act, which would require state agencies to report monthly to the comptroller’s office what bills they are holding and estimate the amount of interest that will be paid on those bills. […]

We encourage the General Assembly to override the governor’s veto and get this long overdue, best-practice accounting policy in place.

* The Dispatch-Argus

Gov. Bruce Rauner missed an opportunity to make reporting of Illinois’ outstanding bills and overdue interest more accurate, transparent and accountable when he vetoed the General Assembly approved Debt Transparency Act.

Politics clearly were top of mind for the GOP governor facing a crowded field of Democrats seeking to unseat him in 2018. […]

Politics aside, this is at its heart a good-government bill that does what a fiscally responsible state ought to have been doing from the beginning. Indeed, past comptrollers, including the late Ms. Topinka, a Republican, and Dan Hynes, a Democrat, championed similar efforts to increase bill reporting and transparency. […]

It’s time to end the practice of hiding and holding bills. We continue to believe the Debt Transparency Act will do that. A comfortable majority of lawmakers in both houses agreed. We urge them to set aside political concerns and override the governor’s veto.

* The Quincy Herald-Whig

The bill received bipartisan support in both houses in being approved last spring and was sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature. It seemed to be the kind of common-sense legislation that would appeal to Rauner, who has repeatedly vowed to apply sound private-sector business practices to improve the efficiency of state government.

Instead, the governor vetoed the bill Friday. […]

Clearly, accountability and good governance should transcend politics, but this is, after all, Illinois. Outwardly, Rauner’s veto decision appears to be based more on political tit-for-tat than reasonable policy differences. […]

It bears repeating: Elected officials need reliable financial information to make budget decisions, vendors and service providers deserve to know how long the line is for those awaiting payment, and taxpayers deserve to know the magnitude of the state’s debt.

The Debt Transparency Act clearly is a step toward achieving those goals. We urge lawmakers to override the governor’s veto and make it law.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - DeseDemDose - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:03 am:

    Rauner only goal is to bankrupt Illinois.

  2. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:08 am:

    Best Team in America ™ is setting some sort of record.

  3. - Montrose - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:13 am:

    Thing is, they did not need legislation to do this. Rauner could have just told agencies to start sharing this info. He could have taken credit for being more open and transparent instead of handing Mendoza an issue to beat him up with.

    Of course, that is what someone who is interested in governing would do, and we all know Rauner has no interest in that.

  4. - anon2 - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:17 am:

    Vetoing a transparency bill is a PR loser. I wonder if the new staff was behind this move?

  5. - illini97 - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:19 am:

    PEARSON: … That’s all I’m saying. It’s a process question, it’s not a political question.

    Rauner doesn’t know how to govern. his team doesn’t know how to govern. A big deal for someone who’s title is…Governor.

  6. - Jeff - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:21 am:

    - DeseDemDose - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:03 am:

    Rauner only goal is to bankrupt Illinois.

    No, that has been Michael Madigan’s job for the past 44 years.

  7. - GInhouse Tommy - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:22 am:

    Rauner and his team should take note of what Mendoza did and realize that this old school method of cooperating lays a foundation trust among legislators. A honey rather than vinegar approach got the job done and added a dose of respect along the way. Important lesson to be learned. Honesty does work.

  8. - Hieronymus - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:23 am:

    Taxpayers are sick and tired of all smoke and mirrors when it comes to this sort of thing. This bill will help sweep away some of this smoke. The governor, however, clearly would rather blow this smoke somewhere else.

  9. - Flynn's mom - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:23 am:

    Shakin’ up Springfield….

  10. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:24 am:

    After 2.5 years as chief executive of the State, Rauner continues to “Blame Madigan” rather than do what is doable now. Mike Madigan is too old to be a factor in a long term strategy; but Rauner is just too dumb or stubborn to realize that and take the incremental victories that are readily available to him.

  11. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:24 am:

    Governors up for reelection like to slow income tax refunds and reporting liabilities to the Comptroller to make things look better than they are. This should have been done 30 years ago for material funds. With the computers and staff now, monthly is not any sort of a big deal for ALL funds.
    Rauner could have just AV’ed for ‘cough’ implementation time and put in an effective date of January 2019. BTIM@

  12. - Jeff - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:25 am:

    When reading this my first impression of “she walked the entire House floor personally thanking each legislator who’d voted for her legislation” was why didn’t see talk with the opposing legislatures? Understanding opposition helps with working with people, not saying “I don’t like your or respect your views”. Always try to get to “we will have to agree to disagree with respect”.

  13. - DeseDemDose - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:30 am:

    Thanks Mendoza.

  14. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:31 am:

    ==- Jeff - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:21 am:==

    Illinois was paying down its debt before Rauner became governor and jobs were rising at way faster than the tiny snails pace they are now. Rauner is strangling Illinois.

  15. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:31 am:

    Jeff…seriously? You’re missing the point of this whole post. Mendoza is doing the basic work at the heart of successful governing.

    If you are on the BTIA(tm), your cluelessness about this post explains a lot.

  16. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:32 am:

    ===No, that has been Michael Madigan’s job for the past 44 years.===

    Just think - Jeff -…

    In 44 years, Madigan couldn’t do what it took Rauner 2 1/2 years to accomplish, lol

    That Rauner…

  17. - Galena Guy - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:32 am:

    Wonder what the Tribune has to say about the veto?

  18. - Yiddishcowboy - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:32 am:

    Wow, a pretty impressive list of editorials in favor of Mendoza/overriding the veto. But, the important question is this: what do the many “papers” in Proft’s media “empire” have to say about this issue? Lol…

  19. - Ducky LaMoore - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:33 am:

    I thought he was going to deliver an “unprecedented level of transparency” to government?

  20. - Hanlon - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:45 am:

    I have always thought that Rauner was simply in over his head; but after the budget debacle, the credit downgrades, and now this lunacy, I have to wonder if it is actually his goal to tank Illinois for some reason.

  21. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 11:55 am:

    There’s no good reason to veto this legislation. Only sneaky bad ones.

  22. - Generic Drone - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 12:01 pm:

    Ah yes. The Jacksonville Journal Currier. Could’nt just bash the governors failure, but had to take a shot at state employees also. That’s why that rag of a paper needs to go away.

  23. - ILooked - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 12:02 pm:

    Rauner doesn’t want transparency. If that existed, Mendoza would have found out about the money, 71 million dollars if I remember correctly, that Rauner hid much sooner. And then there’s the money being spent by DoIT like drunken sailors.

  24. - WhoKnew - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 12:29 pm:

    “Only sneaky bad ones.”

    I’m guessing DOIT!

  25. - Exhausted - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 12:30 pm:

    Interesting choice of words to describe Mendoza as a “micro-manager”. I think the term Comptroller, for government, or a synonym - controller is a person or thing that controls, examines, executes and audits. Funny, micro-manager seems to fit too. Keep up the good work Susanna Mendoza.

  26. - inartful ? - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 12:33 pm:

    perhaps the bill should have just used the same terms as the prompt payment act such as “bills and invoices”; instead by saying that the comptroller now needs report of all ‘liabilities’ could arguably include all procurements, litigation, & claims that have not reached culmination as of yet

  27. - A Jack - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 1:07 pm:

    Well @inartful, that sounds like a good use of the AV. But Rauner instead vetoed the bill outright. The guy who ran on making state government more transparent.

  28. - anon2 - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 1:28 pm:

    === I thought he was going to deliver an “unprecedented level of transparency” to government? ===

    There you go again, bringing up the candidate’s campaign promises.

  29. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 1:30 pm:

    Accurate information is necessary to make informed decisions. We would not want anyone in government to become informed.

  30. - Langhorne - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 1:37 pm:

    If they dont have this info (not plausible), they should.

    If they have it, it should be reported. Thats transparency.

  31. - blue dog dem - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 2:38 pm:

    Ms. mendoza. Let me help ya. $14.7billion backlog. Bunches more comin. Ya ain’t never gonna have enough in the checkbook until….
    ….until the next increase in the states income tax. Three years and counting. Whether its one of the floundering four or the Carhart Kid himself, your gonna have to juggle the books like a cirus clown. But old Blue kinda likes your style.

  32. - zatoichi - Wednesday, Aug 23, 17 @ 4:13 pm:

    Does a veto imply that someone knows how many additional bills are actually being held back and does not want it to be known?

  33. - Team Warwick - Thursday, Aug 24, 17 @ 8:42 am:

    Some agencies do not have this info.
    i had to go looking for a voucher i had sent on two years ago because it wasnt appearing on the unpaid list on the AIS computer system. Its not paid because the last state capital budget was in 2015. Nothing i can do about that.
    So i go looking.
    The unpaids that havent been entered on the system and sent to the Comptroller were in a box under some lady’s desk. I kid you not. I asked her if she had a list or spreadsheet or total of what is in the file box. No. We never even found the voucher i was searching for in that box. Luckily i had kept a complete paper copy of everything so i made her a new one with all invoice attachments. She put it in the box. So the financial statements of the state are inacvurate

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