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Tom Cullerton passes measure to increase budget transparency

tc 053018SPRINGFIELD  –  Gov. Bruce Rauner will soon have an opportunity to sign legislation that mandates transparency from his own office and from future governors in their budget proposals

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) passed House Bill 5814, which forces the governor’s office to record late interest payments as a separate line item in its appropriations to state agencies. This paints a clearer picture of the state’s funds and slows the depletion of funding needed to run those agencies.

“Utilizing responsible accounting practices to generate a responsible state budget allows Illinois citizens to know how and where their valuable tax dollars are spent,” Cullerton said. “As legislators, we can’t negotiate a proper budget when we don’t know how much money is owed or where it is going.”

Currently, most late payment interest penalties accrue at a rate of 12 percent per month for bills unpaid after 90 days, while healthcare bills accumulate interest at a rate of 9 percent after 30 days.

The interest penalties are paid from the same appropriation line, depleting the amount a state agency can spend for its operations. Cullerton’s bill forces the governor’s budget to include separate line item requests for prompt pay interest payments.

“For far too long Gov. Bruce Rauner has hidden behind phony numbers,” Cullerton said. “This new measure will force all future governors to be more realistic when presenting a budget to the general assembly and public. We need to make sure governors – whether republican or democrat – do not attempt to hide behind deceptive numbers.”

This bipartisan measure is an initiative of Comptroller Susana Mendoza and is supported by the Better Government Association.

“The bill backlog more than tripled under Governor Rauner. The state fell far behind on paying its bills and that cost taxpayers more than $1 billion in late payment interest penalties,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “In fact, in the past two and a half years, the state incurred more interest penalties than in the previous 18 years combined, yet the Governor hasn’t had to account for those penalties in any of his budgets. That’s not right. Governor Rauner should sign this bipartisan, transparency measure so taxpayers can know how he and future governor’s plan to pay interest penalty costs.”

The comptroller’s January 2018 Debt Transparency Report confirmed that taxpayers owe approximately $887 million in late payment interest penalties — despite the fact that over $140 million in interest penalties was paid out in calendar 2017.

Sen. Tom Cullerton

tcullerton-hs

23rd Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Appropriations II; Labor; Local Government (Vice-Chairperson); State Government & Veterans Affairs; Transportation; Committee of the Whole; Energy and Public Utilities.

Biography: Born Sept. 20, 1969; studied at the University of Kansas; former village president and trustee of Villa Park; married (wife Stacey), three sons.