Transparency

  • Sen. Laura MurphySPRINGFIELD – Lobbyists are now required to disclose more information regarding their clients and relationships to local government units under new legislation co-sponsored by Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines).

    “It’s clear that we need to introduce larger reforms to change the way elected officials do business,” said Murphy, who served as chief co-sponsor of the legislation in the Senate. “Increasing lobbying transparency is just a start—there’s much more still to do.”

  • biss 052917SPRINGFIELD – Private equity firms would have to disclose the currently secret investment fees they charge to Illinois’ public pension funds under legislation sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) that was approved in the Senate Monday.

    These sometimes lucrative fees charged by private equity firms and hedge fund managers are exempt from disclosure to taxpayers under Illinois sunshine laws. Even the boards that oversee the pension funds are kept in the dark about some fees.

    Biss maintains that this kind of secrecy flies in the face of a steadily growing national and global movement toward more transparency.

    “This is not a time for Illinois taxpayers to be paying fees they don’t know about,” he said. “If you’re concerned about the asset levels in the pension funds, you should be concerned about the fees you’re paying. That is the only expenditure that is secret from you right now.”

    Senate Bill 779 would attempts to increase the state’s pension funds’ investment transparency by requiring that:

    • pension systems disclose agreements with alternative investment funds and certain provisions of those agreements;
    • alternative investment fund managers and general partners disclose certain investment fees paid directly or indirectly to the alternative investment fund;
    • if an investment fund utilizes the Institutional Limited Partners Association template, the fund will be in compliance with the disclosure requirements;
    • disclosures would be published on the systems’ websites and subject to FOIA.

    The provisions of Senate Bill 779 would apply to every large retirement system or pension fund regulated by the Illinois Pension Code, as well as the Illinois State Board of Investment. The disclosure requirements would apply to new agreements proposed or executed after Jan. 1, 2018.

    The Teachers Retirement System, the largest system in Illinois, currently has nearly $8.5 billion invested and committed to the private equity asset class.

    According to a 2015 ranking by Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine, the country’s 25 top-earning hedge fund managers raked in an estimated $11.6 billion in 2014. The previous year, the top 25 collectively earned nearly double that, estimated to be more than $21 billion.

    Comparatively, the aggregate pay for all of the kindergarten teachers in the nation in 2014 was an estimated $8.5 billion.

    “Common sense says that if we have that greater level of transparency, we’ll pay lower fees and have better returns,” Biss said. “We should know the fees we pay, and that knowledge will allow us to negotiate better deals on our pension funds. That’s a winning formula for taxpayers.”

    Senate Bill 779 now will go to the House for consideration.

  • morrison050517SPRINGFIELD – A plan by State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) that would increase transparency and modernize financial disclosure forms filled out by politicians, judges and certain state employees passed the Senate this morning.

    “Our current financial disclosure process is antiquated and not built to properly disclose vital information that is the purpose behind this process,” Morrison said. “Taxpayers should be assured that their lawmakers are operating under the highest levels of ethics and transparency.”

    Morrison’s plan, contained in Senate Bill 1289, updates the Statement of Economic Interest form, a financial disclosure form meant to increase transparency among elected officials and state employees involved with bidding and state contracts. The form has undergone few changes since it was enacted in 1972.

    Senate Bill 1289 would increase financial disclosure of investment real estate, certain financial assets, additional income, debts and economic relationships with individuals or companies. The bill also requires disclosure of any immediate family members registered to lobby in Illinois.

    Senate Bill 1289 passed the Senate on Friday without opposition and now heads to the Illinois House for further debate.

  • Sen. Melinda BushSPRINGFIELD – Senator Melinda Bush’s (D-Grayslake) measure to increase transparency in pricing among service providers passed in the Illinois Senate today with strong bipartisan support.

    Senate Bill 298 would require hair salons, barbers, dry cleaners and tailors to provide customers with a price list for services upon request, giving consumers the resources necessary to make educated choices when deciding which businesses to frequent.

    “I was thrilled to see nearly all of my colleagues vote in support of this bill,” Bush said. “I hope members of the House show the same support and pass the measure.”

  • TC dupage 041416SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Tom Cullerton’s measure to increase government transparency and the responsible use of taxpayer dollars was signed into law on Friday.

    House Bill 4379 will to regulate all travel, meal and lodging expenses for officers and employees.

    “Transparency is essential,” said Cullerton, a Democrat from Villa Park. “Illinois taxpayers should have access to the way state dollars are spent to guarantee funds are being spent responsibly and efficiently.”

  • murphy 042616SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) passed a measure through the Illinois Senate last week that will bring much-needed transparency and accountability to the state budgeting process.

    Sen. Murphy’s proposal, Senate Bill 2585, requires the governor’s budget office to annually produce a report containing a four-year budget forecast that also lays out detailed solutions to solve any predicted budgetary shortfalls. The report also must be posted online so it is available to the general public.

    “This is a significant step forward for financial responsibility in the state budget. This proposal will require the state to set a budget plan for the future, instead of going from one financial crisis to the next,” Murphy said.

    The legislation was brought to Murphy by the Budgeting for Results Commission, which makes annual recommendations to the governor and General Assembly on how to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in state government, as well as increase financial accountability and transparency.  

    Murphy’s proposal passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 51-0-0 and will now head to the Illinois House.

  • murphy hiedSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) today passed a measure through the Senate State Government and Veterans Affairs Committee that will bring much-needed transparency and accountability to the state budgeting process.

    The proposal, Senate Bill 2585, requires the governor’s budget office to annually produce a report containing a four-year budget forecast that also lays out detailed solutions to solve any predicted budgetary shortfalls. The report also must be posted online so it is available to the general public.

  • morrison transp finalSPRINGFIELD – A new law sponsored by state Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) will let the people see who’s really paying for political campaigns, shining a light on those trying to buy influence at the state Capitol.

    It requires political organizations that make independent expenditures – buying ads or paying for commercials on candidates’ behalf without their explicit permission – to report how much money they spend and how they spend it.

    Any time a political action committee or some other person or organization spends more than $1,000 on a candidate, it will be required to report its actions to the State Board of Elections within five days. In the two months leading up to the election, they will have to report expenses within two days.

    “The people deserve to know which people and businesses are trying to influence elections and politicians,” Morrison said. “They shouldn’t be able to hide behind ‘independent spending’ and bypass our campaign finance laws.”

    According to the Campaign for Political Reform, which worked with Morrison to introduce the law, there were nearly $2.3 million in independent expenditures in 2011-2012. In 2013-2014, when the governor’s race was on the ballot, Illinois saw more than $18 million in independent expenditures. Even when you take out spending on the governor’s race, independent expenditures increased by nearly 60 percent, going from $2.3 million to $3.6 million.

    The law was Senate Bill 248. It takes effect January 1, so it will apply to the 2016 election.

  • bush econ develGov. Rauner affirms truth in taxation legislation

    SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a plan by State Sen. Melinda Bush to ensure news of possible tax changes is more readily accessible to the public.

    “I want to express my gratitude to Gov. Rauner for joining with the General Assembly in affirming this unopposed, common sense plan,” Sen. Bush said. “By posting notices online in addition to print advertising, we disseminate information about important tax hearings more quickly, and give constituents the most opportunity to register support or opposition to a proposal.”

    Current truth in taxation laws require taxing bodies to post notices in newspapers that compare existing property tax levies to their proposed levies. The new law adds a requirement to taxing districts with websites to post such notices on their webpages.

    The new requirements add no additional cost to taxpayers and enable easier sharing of proposals via new media like Twitter and Facebook.

    The legislation was Senate Bill 792. It will become effective Jan. 1, 2016.