— Journal Star Newspaper | Kaergard, C. —
For decades, Illinois governors have “augmented” their staffs beyond the authorized number of hires.
It’s a not-entirely-honest but certainly legal process that’s been described as “offshoring” employees. In effect, someone is paid out of the budget for, say, the Illinois State Police or the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, but they work in the governor’s office full time — and not necessarily (or even usually) on topics just related to that agency.
That process officially ended last week when Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation putting an end to the practice.
Doing so wasn’t necessarily his idea, of course. The legislation was pushed heavily by Illinois state Comptroller Susana Mendoza — a frequent Rauner critic.
That, in part, may have been why Rauner tried to resist the effort in the spring before patting himself on the back via press release Tuesday once he inked the bill.
In fact, “he actively opposed it and asked us to vote no,” retiring GOP state Rep. Steven Andersson of Geneva told us in a tweet. “He lost that one.”
How badly? Unanimously in the House, 110-0. The Senate was a bit closer, 46-7, with local Sens. Bill Brady and Chuck Weaver agreeing with the governor.
While Mendoza isn’t Rauner’s biggest fan, she didn’t make the effort all about him, defaulting throughout the entirety of her effort to the same line that was in her news release after the gov signed the bill:
A former state representative, Mendoza didn’t exactly make it a crusade when she held that office. But she came around eventually on it, just as Rauner did in signing the measure.
Certainly it’s a topic that has stuck in the craw of some legislators, since they, after all, approve headcounts and budgets for offices and agencies. “Offshoring” like this effectively flouts their will and makes a mockery of the specific legislative power of appropriation.
One person that didn’t bother, though, is running against Mendoza.
Also a former state representative, Darlene Senger, told us back in April that when she was in the Legislature looking at appropriations, “you know that that’s happening when you’re approving those appropriations.”
She laughed when we suggested that made it “transparent in its dishonesty.”
Indeed, she said, “I know we would go through and question, ‘How many heads do you have from elsewhere?’”
Senger told us that it has an overall benefit.
“It keeps us from having to add more, so if I need somebody and I can bring that person in from over here, I don’t have to add headcount,” she said. “That, to me, is a good CFO policy when you don’t have enough to pay for people already, you don’t add headcounts.”
Others see it differently, of course — including some of those state agency employees who can’t do something, whether it’s hire people or do work differently, when their office’s cash is being used elsewhere.