YEAR IN REVIEW: TOP 10 ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE OFFICE OF COMPTROLLER
Since being sworn in on Dec. 5, 2016, Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza has:
- Passed the Debt Transparency Act, providing greater disclosure of state debt: Passed the most significant reform bill in the history of the office with a bipartisan 112-0 override of the Governor’s veto - an unprecedented act in the state House of Representatives. State agencies now must disclose every month how many bills they owe and how much in late payment interest penalties the bills have accrued; whether they are covered by appropriations and which state funds they must be paid from.
- Paid down state debt, saving taxpayers billions: Led the charge to bring pressure on the Governor to refinance nearly $9 billion of state debt. Instead of paying 12 percent interest on most of that debt, the state will pay only 3.5 percent, saving taxpayers billions of dollars. After resisting for two months, the Governor agreed to the bond issuance. Comptroller Mendoza paid down nearly $8.7 billion in medical bills, group health insurance bills owed to medical providers around the state, and other bills. Made strategic use of more than $2.2 billion in federal matching funds, reducing the state’s backlog of unpaid bills from $16.7 billion to less than $9 billion in three weeks.
- Fought to finally pass a state budget: In appearances before legislators and a viral video, spelled out the dire consequences of not overriding the Governor to pass a budget after two years without one. The bipartisan override took place a week later.
- Bumped employee bonuses to the back of the line for payment: On her first day in office, Comptroller Mendoza instructed her staff to issue a directive segregating state employee bonuses from other state payments so bonuses would be placed behind payments for priorities such as social services, education, and public safety. Her predecessor had stated it could not be done.
- Cut her own office’s budget: Made the lowest request for a General Revenue Funds appropriation level for the Illinois State Comptroller's Office in 20 years.
- Modernized telecommunications by implementing internally managed VOIP phone system, reducing the number of phone lines and the costs by almost $10k per month and enhancing support to staff.
- Eliminated most TVs and ended "deluxe" cable packages the previous administration had for a savings to taxpayers of $5,000 a year.
- Reduced vehicle fleet and cut automotive costs.
- Prioritized education and social services funding: Sent five “quarterly” categorical payments to state schools in 10 months to make up for the previous administration’s neglect of education funding. Made payments to social service providers, including those offering hospice care and care for seniors, that had languished under the prior administration.
- Uncovered fraud: Blew the whistle on an alleged case of fraud in local government reporting, resulting in felony forgery charges against the village clerk of Royal Lakes, IL.
- Froze irresponsible state spending
- Suspended $27 million in payments to high-paid consultants. In the final days of the previous comptroller's administration, these payments had been directed away from struggling nonprofits, businesses and other vendors.
- Initiated audits of questionable lease arrangements that will end up costing the state far more than the cost of the buildings the state is leasing.
- In addition, she raised the red flag on a behind-the-scenes consolidation of the managed care organizations serving Illinois Medicaid patients proceeding outside the standard procurement code. The Thanksgiving surprise jump in the estimated cost to taxpayers of this questionable procurement from $40 billion to $63 billion is proving her concerns prescient.
- Comptroller Mendoza is leading the effort to hold the governor's administration accountable for out-of-control spending by the Governor's office and agencies under the Governor during a time of fiscal crisis.
- Recovered millions for local governments: Assisted in recovering more than $36.5 million in outstanding debt for more than 400 local governments around Illinois.
- Visited 72 of Illinois' 102 counties:
- Met with 40 social service providers around the state to listen to and assess their needs.
- Toured 37 schools and universities that had been neglected and under-funded through the two-year state budget impasse.
- Met with 42 business owners and business groups around the state.