Debt Transparency Act becomes law after Senate overrides governor’s veto

ManarMendoza11082017SPRINGFIELD – A day after Illinois’ bill backlog reached $16.7 billion, members of the state Senate rejected a system that allows government agencies to conceal unpaid invoices from the comptroller and taxpayers for months on end.

The Illinois Senate on Wednesday voted to override the governor’s veto of the Debt Transparency Act, a commonsense measure that demands better accounting and reporting practices by state agencies so that officials can understand the true extent of the bill backlog at any given time.

“There is no reason that state agencies cannot do a better job of communicating with the comptroller each month about invoices they’ve received that will need to be paid,” said Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and the chief Senate sponsor of the act.

With the Senate’s vote to override, the act takes effect Jan. 1. The House overrode the veto on Oct. 25.

An initiative of Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, the act requires state agencies to report monthly to the comptroller the bills they are holding and estimate the amount of interest that will be paid on those bills.

Until now, agencies have not been required to regularly report their liabilities. The lapse created problems for the comptroller, who is charged with balancing the state’s checkbook and prioritizing payments to vendors.

“The financial pressure on Illinois government has not lifted, as evidenced by the growing bill backlog,” Manar said. “Businesses all over Illinois are patiently waiting to be paid for services and goods they’ve provided. The least we can do is engage in basic, responsible accounting practices and communicate across offices as we try to work through this.”

The legislation is House Bill 3649.

In the news

Illinois Senate OKs 'debt transparency' measure over veto | The Associated Press

Senate overrides veto of Debt Transparency Act | WAND-TV

Bipartisan override of debt transparency veto clouds Rauner's view | Chicago Sun-Times

State agencies now have to provide monthly updates of bills they've accumulated | Belleville News-Democrat

Category: Latest News

SPRINGFIELD – Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) issued the following statement today after the Senate voted on a series of measures intended to begin addressing the prevalence of sexual harassment in state government:

“The legislation passed today is a long-overdue step toward correcting a culture in state government that has failed to evolve with the times. Clearly, there is more work to do. In the end, zero tolerance is the only acceptable response to sexual harassment.”

Category: Latest News

11062017 Manar Decatur Teacher Shortage HrngDECATUR – Teachers around the country often skip over Illinois when they’re looking for a job because of low starting salaries, licensure difficulties, lack of mentoring and other issues, Senator Andy Manar and members of the Senate Education Committee were told Monday during a hearing about the statewide teacher shortage.

“Today’s hearing allowed us to learn from people on the front lines of public education about the barriers that keep teachers from seeking jobs in very good school districts across Illinois,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and a member of the Illinois Senate’s Education Committee, which convened its hearing Monday afternoon at Decatur Public Schools’ Keil Administration Building.

“Right now, we have empty classrooms in schools across the 48th Senate District because state bureaucracy is getting in the way of making sure we have teachers to fill those jobs,” Manar said. “Clearly, there are things we can do to make sure licensing is seamless so that we can get educators into these classrooms.”

Manar said information from the hearing will be used to determine whether there are changes that can be made to state law that could reverse the trend, making it easier for teachers to be hired in Illinois.

Numerous education professionals offered testimony at Monday’s hearing about the reasons for the shortage and possible solutions, such as making it easier to out-of-state professionals to be certified in Illinois, addressing pay disparities, better marketing of the teaching profession to college students, offering new teachers more professional support and mentoring opportunities, identifying “high-need” school districts that have particular difficulty attracting applicants and developing stronger relationships between universities and school districts.

Those who addressed the committee included Decatur Public Schools Superintendent Paul Fregeau; Jason Helfer of the Illinois State Board of Education; representatives of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Illinois Education Association and the Decatur Federation of Teaching Assistants; Anna Quinzio-Zafran of the National Board Resource Center; Diane Rutledge of the Large Unit District Association; and others.

Category: Latest News

DECATUR – Difficulty recruiting and retaining teachers in Illinois will be the topic of a state Senate hearing in Decatur Monday afternoon.

Members of the Senate’s Education Committee will learn more about the problem and possible solutions during the hearing, set for 1 p.m. at Decatur Public Schools’ Keil Administration Building, 101 W. Cerro Gordo St., Decatur.

Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and a member of the committee, has noted that Illinois’ statewide teacher shortage poses an especially daunting challenge for rural and downstate school districts.

According to a teacher shortage survey by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools during the 2015-2016 schoolyear, 60 percent of school districts reported trouble filling teaching positions.

Of those that responded to the survey, 75 percent had seen fewer qualified candidates than in previous years, especially in rural districts and those in central and northwest Illinois. And 16 percent of schools had canceled programs or classes because of the lack of teachers – mostly special education, language arts, math and science classes.

The hearing is open to the public and the media.

Category: Latest News

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