Wallace hits out over veto of transparency bill

ROCKFORD — Democratic State Rep. Litesa Wallace hit out at Gov. Bruce Rauner after the Republican’s veto of a government transparency bill.

HB3649 was backed by Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza last spring, saying the state’s $14.7 billion stack of overdue bills doesn’t accurately represent Illinois’ perilous financial condition.

But Rauner vetoed the package last week, saying, “legislation more closely resembles an attempt by the comptroller to micromanage executive agencies than an attempt to get the information most helpful to the monitoring of state government.”

Currently, bills lacking direct appropriation are only reported once annually, on Oct. 1. HB3649 would allow for ongoing reporting of overdue bills throughout the fiscal year.

“The governor’s administration has racked up a historically large bill backlog, and we cannot adequately address it if we do not fully grasp the amount owed,” Wallace said. “I supported the comptroller’s efforts to try to get a better sense of what agencies owe to vendors so that we can make the proper decisions and prioritize spending to pay down our backlog.”

Wallace says that the bill would keep taxpayers off the hook from late fees accrued on past-due bills. The comptroller’s office says more than $800 million in interest payments and late fees has been racked up since the budget showdown began in 2015.

“That’s $800 million of taxpayer money we are just throwing away,” Mendoza said. “It’s not helping kids get day care or go to college. It’s not helping seniors get Meals on Wheels or keep their home health care. It’s money that will never be invested in creating a single job in Illinois.

“I’m disappointed that Gov. Rauner vetoed this common sense transparency initiative. Policymakers need this up-to-date fiscal information when making budgeting decisions, and there is no good reason to deny it to them.”

“Not only is transparency critical in providing fair and honest government, but in this case it will help protect taxpayers,” added Wallace. “I do not understand why the governor has tried to stop such a clear cut plan, but we cannot hesitate any longer and leave taxpayers on the hook for avoidable late fees.”

The bill has been returned to the General Assembly, who could overturn Rauner’s veto. R.

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