Transparency initiative would end long-standing practice of "offshoring" Governor staff salaries to state agencies to mask the Governor's budget
SPRINGFIELD, IL —The Illinois Senate today passed Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza's "Truth in Hiring" Act to bring all "offshored" employees of the Governor's office back into the Governor's budget. Senator Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, sponsored the bipartisan bill in the Senate.
For too long, Illinois governors – Democratic and Republican – have engaged in the deceptive practice of “offshoring” their employees' salaries to other agencies – for example, paying an education advisor $250,000 from the Department of Human Services; or a deputy chief of staff $140,000 from the Illinois State Police's budget -- to mask the true size of the Governor's budget.
"Offshoring is wrong. It was wrong when Governor Quinn did it. It was wrong when Governor Blagojevich did it. It was wrong when Governor Ryan did it. And it’s still wrong when Governor Rauner does it," Comptroller Mendoza said. "The Truth in Hiring Act passed unanimously in the House and with broad, bipartisan support in the Senate. The Governor should sign it into law. This deceptive practice needs to stop.”
The Truth in Hiring Act (House Bill 5121) simply says that if an employee works in the Governor’s office, they will be paid from the Governor’s payroll. Their salary will be counted in the Governor’s budget. Their salary will not be pulled from agencies that are supposed to protect the most vulnerable or put state troopers on the highways.
"Every time a governor shifts a new, unexpected six-figure salary onto a state agency’s plate, dollars that had been prioritized for important purposes – economic development, senior services and child protection, to name a few – are being diverted to a paycheck instead,” Senator Manar said. “Governors should understand the importance of being transparent about their expenses. Taxpayers who foot the bill for government, and frankly the lawmakers who determine the appropriations for state agencies, deserve that accountability."
The Truth in Hiring Act passed unanimously in the Illinois House last month, and the Senate approved it 46-7 today. It now goes to Governor Rauner’s desk.
“This is a bill for transparency. Both Democrats and Republicans have practiced this in the past. Now it’s time to do it right. With a Republican governor, with a Democrat governor – there’s no reason not to be transparent in this way. This is a good bill," Senator Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, said during floor debate.
A payroll analysis shows only 44 of Governor Rauner's staffers are actually paid from the Governor's budget. MOST of his staff – 58 people – are hidden in other agency payrolls. If the Governor were honestly reporting all the people working in his office, he would have to disclose his office budget is more than $10 million, instead of the $4.9 million that is budgeted for the current fiscal year.
"That's more than $5 million being taken away from agencies that need it, like the Department of Children and Family Services that investigates child abuse; or the Department of Aging that cares for Illinois' seniors," Comptroller Mendoza said. "This ill-advised practice siphons money from health care, environmental protection, juvenile justice, economic development and public safety."
State Representative Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, sponsored the bi-partisan bill in the House.
To be clear, this initiative is not intended to criticize employees who have found themselves offshored. In many cases, they accepted jobs with the governor's office not knowing their salaries would be offshored to other agencies.
This initiative follows Comptroller Mendoza's Debt Transparency Act, which passed last year with unanimous or near-unanimous overrides. The state is already seeing the benefits of that reform as legislators on both sides of the aisle have more up-to-date numbers to craft a budget with and regular citizens have a clearer picture of the state’s finances.
You can download the PDF version of this release here.