By Mark Fitton
Illinois News Network
SPRINGFIELD — House Democrats contend Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office is spending at least $1 million more on staffing than the previous administration.
Gov. Bruce Rauner’s team disputes those numbers and argues House Democrats are playing games to distract from bigger problems.
Rauner spokesmen say they are spending $500,000 less than former Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration did in the area in question.
Rep. John Bradley, chairman of the House Revenue and Finance committee, brought his panel together for a hearing on the matter Tuesday.
Bradley, D-Marion, said previous testimony by a ranking Rauner staffer prompted him to write the governor’s office and ask that a representative attend Tuesday’s meeting.
When no one from the governor’s office appeared, Bradley delivered a few remarks, then recessed the hearing.
Bradley said his information showed the governor’s office spending $1 million more than the Quinn administration and that does not include nine employees for whom Democrats could not determine a funding source.
That number, Bradley said, also didn’t include a number of “contractual employees that have been hired at very substantial sums.”
Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, suggested the legislators had better uses for their time.
“I don’t know that it makes that much difference, quite frankly, and I’d like us to be here this Tuesday and talking perhaps about adopting a revenue resolution so we can get our budget process moving forward.”
Bradley said the inquiry would continue.
“We will consider to what extent we can make our internal investigations available and we will continue this discussion until we get some answers to our questions,” said Bradley, an assistant House majority leader.
“Simply not coming to a committee hearing that you are requested to (attend) does not mean that the issue is going to go away,” he added.
Contacted for response, Rauner’s press office supplied a letter from Deputy Chief of Staff Rich Goldberg to Bradley.
Goldberg said his previous House testimony and the numbers match up.
“While we understand your desire to hold sham hearings to distract the taxpayers from your vote on an unbalanced budget and your desire to raise taxes without reform, we will continue to negotiate in good faith with Senate Democrats, (Chicago) Mayor (Rahm) Emanuel and Republican leaders toward comprehensive bipartisan agreements to turn around Illinois,” Goldberg wrote.
The dispute centers on the number and cost of governor’s staff being paid through intergovernmental agreements, or employees working on the governor’s staff but being charged to other state departments that are under the governor’s control.
The governor’s office numbers show it having 31 intergovernmental agreement employees at a cost of about $3.02 million. It says Quinn had 41 such employees at about $3.58 million.
House Democrats dispute those numbers.
Their numbers, which they shared with the Capitol Fax blog, show Rauner with 35 such employees and paying $3.76 million. They say Quinn had 28 such employees at a cost of $2.66 million.