By Shane Nicholson
On the campaign trail Gov. Bruce Rauner attacked Pat Quinn’s use of so-called “ghost-payrolls” to compensate some of his administration’s highest paid consultants.
But it seems the Republican is not above using the same measures to hide the real cost of his top staff, a Chicago Sun-Times report showed Tuesday.
Rauner’s administration has paid Donna Arduin, whom Rauner called “the smartest state government budget person in America,” $30,000-a-month as the state’s financial crisis continues to worsen and the Governor has slashed core social services.
Last week an Illinois House committee tried to get to the bottom of another high-paid Rauner appointee, Education Secretary Beth Purvis. Her $250,000-a-year contract is being paid by the Department of Human Services.
Arduin is similarly being paid outside of the Governor’s budget via the Department of Revenue, and former Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle is to be paid $60,000 from April 15 to June 15 by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
State Sen. Dan Kotowski of Park Ridge told the Sun-Times that Rauner’s claims of reducing personnel costs by $552,000 and maintaining zero contractual services was disingenuous at best.
“I would say that the governor’s budget doesn’t accurately reflect [the] reality of how he’s spending taxpayers’ money,” Kotowski told the paper. “I think the general public took the governor at his word that he was going to change business as usual. That doesn’t reflect what he’s doing.”
Arduin’s contract has been halved going forward but the Governor’s office indicated that she will continue to be paid out of Revenue’s budget instead of moving under the payroll of the administration.
Her contract stipulated that she was responsible for addressing the already past due 2015 budget as well as preparing the 2016 budget, among other legislative duties.
While Rauner criticized former Governor Quinn for using the same payroll practices for consultants his office defended the “off-shoring” practices saying that previous administrations had done the same.
Rauner’s office has laid the blame for the lack of budget progress on House and Senate Democrats, saying that their proposals leave the state’s financials still $3 billion out of line.
But the administration’s own proposal spearheaded by Arduin has a $2.2 billion gap of its own and just as few answers on how to close it.
Kotowski told the Sun-Times that reducing Arduin’s salary was a sign “the governor recognizes that he has to do more with less in his budget, or take those dollars that he’s saving to invest in people, human services and education.”