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Tax Returns Revealing ... But Not Revealing Enough

Sheila Simon

  Gov. Pat Quinn is the latest Illinois official to disclose his tax returns. They show he paid about $29,000 federal taxes, $7,700 in taxes to the state. Still, a lot of information about politicians' finances can remain hidden.

There's no law requiring politicians make their tax returns public, though they often do.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon says that's a positive thing.

"I think it shows that people are demanding more disclosure," she says.

But Simon says it doesn't go far enough.

By law, elected officials in Illinois do have to file Statements of Economic Interest. But the forms are notoriously vague and often reveal little.

Simon's behind an initiative to redo them.

"We really want to know where the sources of money that you have, that your spouse has, that might make it a conflict for you to vote on a measure, advocate for a measure," she says.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1361, easily passed the Senate, but that was last May. It's stalled in the House, where negotiations are ongoing. Prospects for it to be done this spring appear dim.

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