State Roundup: NIU employee improperly reimbursed $30K

From Illinois News Network

A Northern Illinois University employee was improperly reimbursed nearly $32,000 for travel.

Illinois_News_Network_logoThe state’s Auditor General tested twenty-five TA-2 forms and found one instance where of $46,000, nearly seventy percent was reimbursed to a worker for trips to and from the employee’s residence and the school’s headquarters.

The Auditor says the school should recoup the $32,000. Northern Illinois University agrees, the Auditor’s report says, and the school is reviewing the circumstances and evaluating the necessity of recouping the travel expenses.

The Auditor General report published last week also indicates that NIU’s compliance with internal auditing laws was not adequate, and the University didn’t have proper contract approvals. The Audit covered Fiscal Year 2014.

Governor targeting Upward Mobility in next fiscal year contracts

Illinois’ Governor wants to get rid of a program that provides taxpayer funded college education to state workers, but a union says the perk has value.

A spokesperson for Governor Bruce Rauner tells Illinois News Network the Upward Mobility perk is “not something the state can afford” and the Governor has proposed discontinuing funding for the program in the upcoming budget.

The program is subject to ongoing labor negotiations with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, one of the state’s largest unions. The Governor’s administration says the state has spent over $3.3 million annually on tuition for participants of the program.

A spokesperson for AFSCME says the program benefits the employee by providing continued education while benefiting the state by having better educated employees. Rauner is also looking to make health insurance and pension benefits for state workers less generous. The current AFSCME contract expires with the current fiscal June 30th.

Report: Three-quarters of police and firefighter pension reviewed once by DOI since 2004

Despite a requirement for the state’s Department of Insurance to review police and firefighter pension funds at least once every three years, nearly three-quarters of the funds have only been examined once in the past decade. That’s according to the Illinois Auditor General’s office.

In a report published last week the Auditor says 480 of the state’s 657 police and firefighter pensions were reviewed by DOI on one occasion since 2004. Nearly 20 percent of the funds were examined on two occasions since 2004.

The Auditor also says DOI needs to establish a document retention policy to expunge worker’s comp fraud cases that don’t get prosecuted, work to data mine and review social media for possible fraud, waste and abuse investigations, and get better control over expenditures of vendors for the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace outreach efforts.

Lane appointed Illinois Lottery Superintendent

There’s a new superintendent for the Illinois Lottery. Governor Bruce Rauner announced B.R. Lane to take over the gambling outfit late last week.

A release from Rauner’s office says Lane brings with her experience dealing with regulatory matters in both the public and private sectors. Lane worked as the Manager of Regulatory Compliance at International Game Technology, a computer gaming equipment company.

Her most recent position was the Interim Director of the Gary/Chicago International Airport where she oversaw the organization to ensure compliance with aviation regulations. Governor appointees are voted on by the Senate within 60 days.

Holten to remain Aging Director

The director of a state agency with a budget of more than $1 billion will stay on board if the Senate confirms the re-appointment.

Governor Bruce Rauner re-appointed John Holton to head up the Department on Aging where he’s been for the past three years. The Department provides home care services for low-income people 60 years old or older and also provides other federally funded services like nutritional assistance.

Governor Rauner is proposing a budget of just over $1 billion for the Department on Aging for the coming fiscal year.

Aaron Schock leaving office this week

One of Illinois’ congressional districts will have a vacancy later this week as Congressman Aaron Schock resigns.

The 18th district congressman said earlier this month that he would leave quote “with a heavy heart” at the end of March amid questions of how he spent taxpayer and donor dollars. Recent published reports also indicate there are federal investigations into Schock’s spending.

Governor Bruce Rauner says he will announce a timeline for a special election, including a primary, to take place within four months of Schock’s official resignation date March 31. That announcement is expected within the first week of April.

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