Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza
Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza made one thing very clear — Gov. Bruce Rauner’s $5 million offshore staffing account must be dissolved now.
“You think the governor’s office only has 44 staffers?” Mendoza asked at an impromptu press conference Thursday to announce the Truth in Hiring Act legislation. “Wrong! He has 102, but 58 of them are offshored onto other agency payrolls.”
If Rauner were reporting the truth, he would have to disclose his office budget is more than $10 million, rather than the $4.9 million budgeted for the current fiscal year, according to Mendoza and sponsors of the legislation, including Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) and Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) who stood at her side.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner
The bill would mandate that people employed by the governor are paid from his payroll.
“For too long, Illinois governors, both Democratic and Republican, have engaged in the deceptive practice of offshoring,” Mendoza said. “The expression comes from rich people hiding their assets in places like Panama or the Cayman Islands in order to prevent paying taxes.”
Citing masked salaries and state agencies they are pulled from, Mendoza pointed exactly to who and where from the offshoring is taking place.
“Now you have heard some of the most eye-popping examples -- $250,000 for an education adviser that is paid out of the Department of Human Services or $140,000 for deputy chief of staff that is paid out of the Illinois State Police budget," she said.
Up to $5 million is being offshored, according to the comptroller.
“This bad practice is siphoning money from health care, environmental protection, juvenile justice and public safety," Mendoza said.
Mitchell called the Truth in Hiring Act a long-overdue piece of legislation, which should pass both the House and Senate floor unanimously and should not be taken personally by Rauner’s private personnel.
“We are not saying that these folks are not worthy of being hired; but for a governor who used to run a business and wants to continue to be a governor that wants a business-friendly state, accounting for your decisions is incredibly important,” Mitchell said.
Like Mendoza, Mitchell noted money is being siphoned from already slighted agencies and there is no reason why Rauner should not get behind the bill.
“It just makes sense, and it is consistent with the kind of governor he has alleged he wants to be,” Mitchell added.
McSweeney said he felt proud to be part of the bipartisan legislation, also sponsored by Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), which leads by example.
“We need to have an accurate account, and we obviously don’t have it in the governor’s office,” McSweeney said, then asking why Rauner does not lead by example himself and reduce his budget by 10 percent.
“We all know what this failed governor has been doing by running around the state saying he is trying to cut spending," he said.
One example of Rauner’s bad spending: $16.8 billion in unpaid bills, according to McSweeney, who said there is no real plan to cut taxes as the governor proposed in his budget address a few weeks ago.
“Why not lead by example and say, ‘I will cut my budget,’ not the phony budget,” McSweeney said.