FileCabinetsSPRINGFIELD – Today the Illinois Senate passed bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) to direct the Illinois auditor general to investigate an unnecessary, $2.4 million warehouse lease deal signed by the Rauner administration at a time of unprecedented financial crisis.

Manar's legislation, House Joint Resolution 63, also puts a stop to new lease agreements during the auditor’s review. The Senate voted unanimously, 46-0, on Wednesday to adopt the resolution.

“I think this kind of wasteful spending during a historic budget crisis is going to be a legacy of the Rauner administration,” Manar said. “While lawmakers are struggling with fiscal questions about how to balance the state budget, the administration is making decisions every day to waste money on fees, procurement and leases that are absolutely unnecessary.”

The Springfield building, a former furniture store, could have been purchased for $750,000, but the five-year, six-figure lease deal was inked after the state received only one bid. The relationships between the seller of the property, the purchaser of the property and the chairman of the state’s Procurement Policy Board have come under intense scrutiny.

The property is being used to store state records. Since that lease came to light earlier this year, at least two more questionable and expensive state leases have come to light.

“The people I represent ask the basic question, ‘Why can’t you fix all of this government waste to help manage the state’s finances?’ I think that’s a valid question. Over the past six months we've gotten no answers from the Rauner administration,” Manar said. “Republicans and Democrats all came together to pass this resolution today. We hope to get to the bottom of this and send a strong message to the administration.”

The resolution was sponsored in the House by Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills).

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There are better ways to balance the state budget than on the backs of elderly retired teachers who rely on meager pensions to survive, Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said today.

“The Republican proposal would cost retired teachers in Illinois thousands of dollars by driving up out-of-pocket health care premiums,” Manar said. “I will continue to oppose any proposals by Republican lawmakers and Gov. Rauner that rely on raiding the pensions and health care funds for retired teachers to balance the state budget.”

Manar’s remarks were made in response to concerns raised today by the Illinois Retired Teachers Association regarding Republican budget plans that rely on underfunding state pension plans and reducing appropriations for retiree health care in order to claim they are “balanced” proposals.

A budget introduced by Republicans earlier this year cut the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP) by more than 30 percent ($23 million), and the latest Republican budget nearly doubles the original GOP cuts to TRIP, slashing subsidies by $40 million, with plans to phase out health care assistance for retired teachers.

The Senate’s balanced budget, which passed on May 23, does not rely on massive cuts to retired teachers to close the $5 billion gap in Gov. Rauner’s budget. Manar said the state should keep its promises to retired teachers.

“Let’s start looking to the billionaires and corporations that can afford to kick in more, rather than the elderly retired kindergarten teachers who live in subsidized housing and ration their monthly checks to the penny so they can afford to buy groceries and pay the light bill,” Manar said.

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ManarCullertonIllinois will never lift itself out of the state budget crisis if the governor and legislative leaders can’t get in a room and talk to each other about their differences, Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said Friday.

“Gov. Rauner has made it clear that he is the only one with the authority to convene meetings of the governor and the four legislative leaders. He has not called one since Dec. 6,” Manar said. “These five leaders who control the budget negotiations have not been in a room together in nearly 200 days. It’s no wonder we haven’t resolved the budget crisis.”

Manar called on Gov. Rauner to meet with the four leaders every day for the remaining days of the legislative session until a budget deal is complete. He added that the best place to start discussions is with the balanced budget and reform package the Senate already passed. Those bills all are in the House awaiting action.

Rauner called a 10-day special session of the General Assembly, which costs taxpayers roughly $48,000 per day. The special session began Wednesday and ends June 30, the final day of the current fiscal year.

“Gov. Rauner used his power to get lawmakers back to Springfield to work on a budget. With seven days left until June 30, the best way to finalize a budget now is to work with the balanced budget and reform package that the Senate passed and sent to the House in May,” Manar said. “I’m urging the governor convene leaders’ meetings – every day for as long as it takes for the next week – so that they can begin negotiations and together steer our state out of this mess.”

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Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) issued the following statement in reaction to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s call for unity among state lawmakers who will begin a 10-day special session called by the governor beginning Wednesday.

“It’s as if Gov. Rip Van Winkle has awakened from a two-and-a-half-year nap to find the state he was supposed to manage is teetering on the brink of fiscal collapse,” said Manar, chairman of a key Senate budget committee.

“While I welcome Gov. Rauner’s input into how we can seal a state budget deal, I will remind him that he and Republican lawmakers are three weeks late in sauntering to the table. Luckily, they will find his balanced budget, with his requested reforms, awaiting approval in the House that already passed in the Senate.”

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