New law restricts public officials’ entertainment, travel spending

Some egregious examples of local officials using taxpayer dollars for entertainment and travel expenses has led to a new law that restricts the use of tax money for certain non-government activities.

A measure signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner completely prohibits local government officials from using taxpayer dollars for entertainment expenses.

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Cary, said the measure he advanced through the General Assembly also requires extra scrutiny on travel expenses. “And there’s no reason that government officials should spend money on entertainment, and they certainly should be very limited, and it has to be justified and subject to a public roll call by a vote if they’re going to spend money on meals, travel and lodging.”

Edgar County Watchdogs co-founder Kirk Allen said he has found examples of this kind of spending going unchecked in several layers of government, from community college presidents to even state’s attorneys.

“It’s not just at the lower local levels. It’s all the way up to the very enforcers of our laws,” Allen said.

The measure could help restore public trust and keep property taxes from increasing.

Allen said the spending in question and a lack of oversight from boards and councils weakens public trust rapidly. “It’s compounded by malfeasance by these very elected officials as well.”

The measure takes effect Jan. 1, 2017.

–Illinois News Network

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