CHRONICLE: Senate votes to ban Rauner’s practice of hiding $5 million in salary off his budget

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The Illinois Senate voted 46-7 to require Governor Bruce Rauner to stop hiding staff salary costs in the budgets of other agencies, rather than his own, a policy known as “offshoring.”

More than half of Rauner’s staff is “offshore,” meaning their salaries are hidden in the budgets of other agencies, instead of in the governor’s own budget. Last month, the Illinois House approved the bill unanimously, but the governor has so far refused to say whether he will sign or veto the bill.

The deceptive practice in effect masks the true costs of the governor’s budget. 58 people are hidden in these other budgets, compared to the 44 who are officially reflected. The $4.9 million Rauner claims to spend for his office is actually more than $10 million.

Critics argue that by hiding these costs in the budgets of other agencies, those agencies then have less funding to provide the services for which they were intended to provide. Just six Senate members, all Republicans, opposed the reform.

“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.”

Illinois Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza, State Senator Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, State Representative Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, State Representative David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, and State Representative Greg Harris, D-Chicago, introduced the “Truth in Hiring” Act to require that the governor include all employees on his own budget.

On the value of hidden salaries, Mendoza said, “That’s more than $5 million being secretly 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. This ill-advised practice is silently siphoning money from health care, environmental protection, juvenile justice, economic development and public safety.”

“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. “This deceptive practice needs to stop.”

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