Transparency initiative ends long-standing practice of "offshoring" Governor staff salaries to state agencies to mask the Governor's budget
SPRINGFIELD, IL — 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, became law today.
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 was still wrong when Governor Rauner did it. But all of that ends today," Comptroller Mendoza said. “Thank you to the sponsors of this legislation, Representative Christian Mitchell and Senator Andy Manar, and to the lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who voted for it. I'm glad that Governor Rauner recognized the overwhelming bipartisan support behind this bill and signed it into law.”
The Truth in Hiring Act (House Bill 5121) passed unanimously in the Illinois House, and the Senate approved it 46-7. It 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, D-Bunker Hill, 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."
A recent payroll analysis shows only 47 of Governor Rauner's 110 staffers are actually paid from the Governor's budget. MOST of his staff – 63 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 nearly $10 million, instead of the $4.6 million that is budgeted for the current fiscal year.
“This practice subverts the appropriations process. It takes money away from state agencies that protect children, the environment, and public safety,” Representative Mitchell, D-Chicago, said. “This Governor, and any future governors, should present the true cost of their staff in their office’s budget and make the case for why they need that level of funding.”
HB 5121 goes into effect immediately and will apply to appropriations passed after this date.
In addition to having broad bipartisan support in the legislature, the Truth in Hiring Act also has the backing of newspaper editorial boards across the state.
“Truth in Hiring is pro-transparency legislation that empowers the General Assembly to better its oversight of agency spending,” Quad-City Times editorial board editor Jon Alexander wrote.
“Governors, both Republicans and Democrats, have engaged in this practice – which they call ‘offshoring’ – at least since the days of former Gov. George Ryan. Now is a good time to stop,” the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board wrote. “A state budget is all about setting priorities. Concealing things from the public shouldn't be one of them.”
The Truth in Hiring Act 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.