Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities says it has no backlog to submit in debt transparency report
It seems the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities didn't turn in a required report in time for State Comptroller Susana Mendoza's first debt transparency report because the council had nothing to report, or at least that's what its director says.
The council is, after all, federally funded, Director Kimberly Mercer-Schleider told Prairie State Wire during an email interview. "The Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities (ICDD) is a federally funded state agency," she said. "We do not receive any state of Illinois general revenue funds."
That didn't stop the state comptroller, a Democrat who fought hard for the Debt Transparency Act to be passed in the General Assembly last fall despite opposition from Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, to call the ICDD out for not reporting.
When Mendoza issued her office's first debt transparency report a few weeks ago, the accompanying press release included this comment about agencies tardy in turning in their report: "Eighty out of the 84 state agencies and universities required to report responded for the reporting period ending Dec. 31, 2017. The four agencies that failed to submit and remain in non-compliance with the state statute are the Department of Children and Family Services, the Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Human Rights Commission and the Sex Offender Management Board."
That didn't seem to apply to the ICDD, Mercer-Schleider said. "Additionally, due to our federal spending authorization we are have never accrued a backlog of bills," she said.
However, she also said the ICDD has since complied.
The state comptroller's first debt transparency report follows difficult passage last year of the Debt Transparency Act, which Rep. Fred Crespo (D-Hoffman Estates), a leading sponsor of the legislation, called "a common-sense reform that will ensure government is being transparent with its taxpayers."
The act, originally House Bill 3649, was first introduced last February and ultimately picked up more than three dozen sponsors in the House, as well as strong support in the Senate on both sides of the aisle.
HB3649 mandated greater accountability from state agencies contributing to the state's bill backlog, which stood at $17 billion by November.
Rauner vetoed the bill, saying it was "enabling some more political manipulation by (House) Speaker (Mike) Madigan and Comptroller Mendoza on how they can prioritize bill payment," but bipartisan House and Senate votes overrode his veto.
Mendoza's office projected then that the state would owe at least $800 million in interest and penalties on its overdue bills by fiscal year's end, according to that press release.
When Mendoza's office released the first debt transparency report in January, it revealed more than $9.2 billion in estimated general fund bill backlog, with bills reporting at state agencies amounting to more than $2.4 billion of that amount. Bills at the office of the comptroller, more than $6.7 billion, or about 73 percent of the total amount, made up the rest, according to the debt transparency report.
The ICDD didn't contribute to that amount but ultimately did comply with the act, Mercer-Schleider said. "All necessary reporting has since been submitted to the comptroller," she said.