— Journal Standard Newspaper | The Editorial Board —
If you work for the governor of Illinois, shouldn’t you be paid from the governor’s budget? That doesn’t sound too radical, does it?
Of course not. It’s common sense. But no sense is common in dear old Illinois, where corruption has been raised to an art form.
Consider Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office staff. According to the office of state Comptroller Susana Mendoza, just 44 of his staffers are paid from the governor’s budget. The other 58, the majority, are paid out of budgets for state agency payrolls.
This isn’t a new practice, Mendoza notes. It was standard operating procedure for past governors George Ryan, Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn. It may go back longer than that. Legislators in both parties have gone along with the charade without questioning it.
It’s deceptive, because money that is supposed to pay for other state services is being diverted to pay for most of the governor’s staff.
Mendoza came up with a solution, the Truth in Hiring Act, which says that people who work for the governor of the state shall be paid from the governor’s budget. The bill was bipartisan.
The Truth in Hiring Act passed the House 110-0 in April. The measure passed the Senate 46-7 on May 3. Among the very few “no” voters was our own state Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford. We’re disappointed.
The bill is now on Rauner’s desk. We urge him to sign it so that he and future governors will have to ask lawmakers to pay the entire staff out of his budget.
Two more Mendoza initiatives have widespread support and have passed either the Senate or the House by wide margins. We support them.
The Vendor Payment Transparency Act, SB3560, passed the Senate 44-1 and is in a House committee. It alters the state’s Vendor Payment program to reveal how much money lenders make from the 12 percent interest the state must pay in late payment penalties. Waiting for their money for months on end has severely hurt some smaller companies that do business with the state.
The third Mendoza initiative is the Prompt Payment Act, HB 5814, which passed the House by a vote of 110-0 and is now before the Senate. The bill requires governors to identify and account for the cost of late payment interest penalties in their budget proposals.
We applaud the progress Comptroller Mendoza is making to open Illinois’ shady financial practices to the light of public scrutiny. These measures are long overdue.