Manar05262017The Senate’s balanced budget strikes a sensible balance that offers cuts and reforms while prioritizing what the people of Illinois want the state to deliver after two years of gridlock, Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said Monday (May 29).

“People want us to prioritize funding for education, for health care and for higher education so that we can repair that system. Our budget does all of this under the umbrella of spending limits that the governor put forward,” said Manar, chairman of one of the Senate’s two budget committees.

“That’s the result of both leadership and frustration on our part, because we continuously put forth issues that Gov. Rauner claims to value – and in some cases demands – but yet we are stuck with no movement from the executive branch.”

Manar noted that the Senate listened to Gov. Rauner’s demands for government reforms in exchange for signing a budget. The Senate approved term limits on legislative leaders, procurement reform, school funding reform, workers’ compensation reform and local government consolidation reform – all in conjunction with a balanced budget that cuts $3 billion in government spending.

“So regardless of what Gov. Rauner is going to do, the Senate is going to continue to lead,” Manar said. “That’s why we did the things that we have done this session that ultimately produced a budget that is balanced and sustainable that will help us put this behind us once and for all.”

Category: Latest News

Measure would reveal true cost of Illinois’ bill backlog

AWM05152017An effort to force state agencies to be more upfront and accountable with the Illinois comptroller about the bills they owe to vendors is headed to the governor’s desk, and Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is urging him to sign it.

The Debt Transparency Act, sponsored by Manar and Representative Fred Crespo (D-Hoffman Estates), passed with bipartisan support last week. It would require 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.

Illinois’ bill backlog currently stands at a record $14.4 billion. An estimated $6.6 billion of that is being held by state agencies because of lack of appropriation or processing delays.

The backlog amount jumped by $1 billion recently after the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget reported additional bills for medical, corrections, state group health insurance, human services and other state agencies.

The problem is that state agencies are not required to regularly report their liabilities, including the late payment interest penalties associated with outstanding bills, to the comptroller’s office.

“This is not a hypothetical problem,” said Manar, chairman of a key Senate appropriations committee. “We just learned of $1 billion in additional bills that state agencies suddenly reported. This is a terrible way to monitor the state’s ledgers, and it isn’t fair to taxpayers.”

The comptroller’s office projects that Illinois will owe at least $800 million in interest and penalties on its overdue bills by the end of the current fiscal year.

“That’s $800 million of taxpayer money we are just throwing away. It’s not helping kids get day care or go to college. It’s not helping seniors get meals on wheels or keep their home health care,” Comptroller Susana Mendoza said.

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Category: Latest News

AWM05252017After lecturing a panel of lawmakers Thursday about why the cash-strapped state of Illinois should lease rather than buy property, a senior Rauner administration official revealed that plans are underway for the state to purchase another building in Springfield.

The revelation came as Senate Democrats attempted to get to the bottom of who and what prompted a series of expensive lease deals inked by the Rauner administration for warehouses in Springfield. Meanwhile, the Illinois Senate this week approved $3 billion in cuts to government spending to help balance the state’s budget and break the two-year budget stalemate.

“What I saw today was yet another example of the Rauner administration completely willing to lecture lawmakers about all the things that it finds wrong with state government but disinclined to follow its own advice,” said State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill).

“I appreciate the candor of the CMS director regarding our challenges when it comes to property management in the face of a budget crisis. But if the administration wants to make the case that state of Illinois shouldn’t be in the property management business, it might help the argument if it wasn’t out there drawing up paperwork to buy more property.”

Manar said he is concerned by the latest report about a third warehouse lease deal in Springfield, inked by the Rauner administration at time when the state has no budget and numerous state buildings in the city sit empty or underutilized.

Details have been murky about the lease contracts and the beneficiaries the lucrative deals.

“Over the years, there have been people in Springfield who have proven they are able to manipulate the process to land lucrative state contracts,” Manar said. “Is something fishy going on here? Maybe, maybe not. But I think lawmakers have an obligation to continue asking questions and make sure the taxpayers we represent are getting best possible deal.”

Category: Latest News

Manar05232017

Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) issued the following statement regarding today’s vote in the Illinois Senate to advance a balanced budget proposal and establish desperately needed fiscal stability in Illinois:

“This is a balanced, full-year budget with no new spending and $3 billion in cuts to government programs. Just as important, it lives within the governor’s recommended spending level outlined in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget he proposed in February.

“We coupled this budget with a series of reforms that reflect our priorities, as well as those of the governor, including term limits on legislative leaders, school funding reform, pension reform, procurement reform and local government consolidation.

“Coupled with the reforms we’ve already passed this spring and ones will continue to look at, I think we are well on our way to sending to Gov. Rauner a plan that should meet all of his requirements to stop holding the state of Illinois hostage after two years.

“Should that day come, perhaps then Gov. Rauner will be able to turn his attention to finding immediate solutions to such pressing downstate matters as school funding reform, job creation, the shortage of rural teachers and nurses, and the opioid crisis that’s sweeping Illinois.”

Category: Latest News

School Funding Reform

 

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