State Roundup: Governor’s ‘Turnaround Agenda’ debuts in village halls

From Illinois News Network

The battle ground for Governor Bruce Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” has moved to the halls of municipalities with differing results. The Village of East Dundee unanimously passed a resolution supporting the Governor’s “Turnaround Agenda,” including allowing local governments to opt in to being empowerment zones. East Dundee Village Administrator Robert Skurla says the resolution that passed Monday didn’t change any laws or regulations.

Illinois_News_Network_logo“This does not eliminate prevailing wage ordinances, prevailing wage laws, or the whole concept of having to use prevailing wage for public improvements. This is just a resolution of support to go for local options in local territories. And everybody said they understood and they still adopted it.”

Skurla says that there were no citizens of the town of twenty-eight hundred who spoke in opposition to the resolution.

It was a different story in the village of Oswego Tuesday where a resolution with the same language found a dozen speakers in opposition, including U.S. Representative Bill Foster. Foster reiterated a legal opinion from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan that right-to-work zones would violate labor law.

“These are state issues, these are federal issues. And communities cannot opt out of these laws anymore than they can opt out of civil rights laws or similar things.”

Several other members of unions, including teachers, laborers and municipal employee representatives, echoed Foster’s comments in the Oswego village chambers. Oswego didn’t advance the measure.

Governor Rauner said last month that he is proposing a state law that would allow local voters and officials to opt in to becoming a right-to-work zone, though no measure has been introduced into the state legislature.

Labor issues take center stage in several Chicago-area villages

Meanwhile enacting local measures to relax prevailing wage laws and project labor agreements could save a small village millions of dollars. Skurla from East Dundee indicates there are debates on either side of the issue but one thing he’s sure of is the cost savings the village could expect for certain construction projects like a new fire or police station or a new village hall.

“It could be argued either way, but the bottom line is that I could have spent $2 million less on three projects if we didn’t have to pay prevailing wage.”

Thirty-five miles south in the village of Oswego where a similar measure found staunch resistance from a slew of union members, Steve Hernandez, a Local 150 member and Oswego citizen, says he was once a non-union member and didn’t like it.

“And I would hate to see anything diminish what I’ve become a part of.”

Auditor’s report highlights payroll issues at Dept. of Insurance

Payroll problems were a key highlight of an Illinois Auditor General report about the state’s use of federal dollars. In a report published earlier this week the Auditor says the Illinois Department of Insurance had material weaknesses in substantiating payroll costs claimed for federal reimbursement under the Affordable Care Act echanges. The report also says DOI failed to maintain support for certain costs charged to the ACA Exchanges program and failed to establish adequate subrecipient monitoring procedures.

Auditor: IDOT didn’t obtain certified payrolls before paying out on contracts

Meanwhile the Auditor says the Illinois Department of Transportation didn’t obtain certified payrolls before making grant payments to contractors for the Highway Planning and Construction Cluster and Surface Transportation Discretionary Grants for Capital Investment. DOT also failed to document construction projects in the Highway Planning and Construction Cluster in accordance with federal regulations. The report also highlighted financial reporting issues with the Departments of Human Services, Healthcare and Family Services, Children and Family Services, State Board of Education and Emergency Management saying they had inadequate processes to report subaward information required by the Federal Funding Accountability Transparency Act. The Auditor said several times throughout the report that failure to enact proper internal controls could lead to federal dollars being wasted or even suspended.

Career and Technical Programs funding to remain level

State representatives are hearing more about the upcoming fiscal year budget. During an appropriations hearing earlier this week representatives from Career and Technical Programs said they worried their programs had been a “dumping ground” but their ultimate hopes are to help increase higher graduation rates and higher lifetime earnings. There is level funding proposed for the next fiscal year for Career and Tech programs. One instructor told representatives programs to train prospective vocational trade students helps attract businesses. There was also discussion of the growing interest in drone operation making its way into the Career and Tech Programs.

Education Labor Relations Board will absorb reduced budget

Meanwhile the Education Labor Relations Board said they will be able to absorb expected reductions to their budget. The Board facilitates labor peace between schools and their employees. For the coming fiscal year it’s proposed the Board get one-point-six-million dollars which is a decrease of nearly sixty-thousand from previous year. The Board says they’ll absorb the cut by leaving a Springfield position vacant. Representatives in the appropriations meeting also heard from Agriculture Education, Regional Offices of Education, Regional Safe Schools and others.

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