Governor Urged to sign the Transparency Initiatives
CHICAGO —What a session. Beyond the bipartisan cooperation on the budget, another important dynamic was going on under the radar in Springfield this year. Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza passed all five bills on her legislative agenda with unanimous or near-unanimous votes. In a fairly unusual move and in the spirit of bipartisan cooperation, as a member of the majority party, she enlisted the help of a member of the minority party, Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, to be the chief sponsor of one of her bills.
That bill – to require governors to disclose in their budgets, and budget for, the state's late payment interest penalties – passed both houses unanimously like most of her bills. These transparency initiatives build on the success of the Debt Transparency Act, her hallmark transparency reform that she passed last year, that has opened the state's books for legislators and taxpayers and helped the General Assembly craft this year's consensus budget.
Mendoza thanks legislators of both parties for sponsoring and passing these bills. She is grateful for the hard work of her legislative team led by Director Gwen Peebles. She also thanks the editorial boards around the state who spelled out the merits of this legislation. She urges Governor Rauner to sign all of these bipartisan transparency and good-government initiatives:
1) HB5121 Truth in Hiring Act: Ends the longstanding bad practice of Illinois governors “offshoring” employees in other state agency budgets to mask the size of the governor’s budget. Requires that if an employee works in the Governor’s office, they will be paid from the Governor’s payroll. Their salary will not be pulled from agencies that are supposed to protect the most vulnerable or put state troopers on the highways. In this budget, 58 of Governor Rauner’s 102 employees are “offshored” to other state agencies. Under this bill, in the next budget, all those employees would have to appear in the Governor’s budget. Passed House 110-0 April 19. Passed Senate 46-7 May 3. Sponsors: Representative Christian Mitchell; Senator Andy Manar.
2) HB5814 Budgeting for Interest Payment: Requires governors to include in their budget proposals their plans to pay down the state’s late payment interest penalties, which currently total nearly $1 billion. Up to now, governors have made no mention of these liabilities in their budget proposals. Passed the House 101-0 April 20. Passed the Senate 57-0 May 29. Sponsors: Representative David McSweeney; Senator Tom Cullerton.
3) SB3560 Vendor Payment Program Transparency: Would bring sunshine to the Governor’s program to allow lenders to upfront money to state vendors owed money by the state. The lenders make money from the up to 12 percent interest the state makes on these old bills. But up to now, taxpayers have had little information about this over $1 billion program and little to no disclosure about who makes up these lending groups; where their financing comes from and who is profiting from Illinois’ chronically late payments. This bill would, for the first time, codify the program into state statute and require transparency. Passed the House 109-7 May 29. Passed the Senate 54-0 May 31. Sponsors: Senator Omar Aquino; Representative John Connor.
4) SB3106 BEP Goals for Constitutional Officers: This bill would require Constitutional Officers such as the Governor, Secretary of State and Comptroller to aspire to the same 20 percent goal state agencies have for awarding contracts to businesses owned by women, minorities and people with disabilities in accordance with provisions of the Business Enterprise for Minorities, Women, and Persons with Disabilities Act. Passed the Senate 50-0 April 26. Passed the House 112-0 May 28. Sponsors: Senator Toi Hutchinson; Representative Will Davis.
5) HB5019 Comptroller's Office Administrative Bill: This allowed procedural changes including allowing state employees the ability to have part of their wages invested in a state college savings program. Also prohibits involuntary withholding deductions of more than 25% of each pension or disability payment of an individual. Passed The House 113-0 April 18. Passed the Senate 54-0 May 24. Sponsors: Representative Natalie Manley; Senator Melinda Bush.
Comptroller Mendoza also weighed in heavily in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment and thanks legislators for working so well together to pass a consensus budget this year.
You can download the PDF version of this release here.