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New Measure Seeks To Clarify Governor Staff Payroll

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Jaclyn Driscoll
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NPR Illinois

Comptroller Susana Mendoza is launching a new measure to end, what she calls a "long-standing practice of offshoring staff salaries." 

Last fiscal year, the governor’s budget for his office staff showed 44 employees earning nearly $5 million. But, according to the comptroller that’s not the full picture. She says 58 other staffers were hidden in other agencies payrolls, masking the true size of the budget which cites as nearly $10.5 million. 

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Credit State of Illinois Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza
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Reflection of February payroll

The bill would require the governor to disclose his total office staff, and prohibit him from taking dollars from outside agencies.

“All  we’re saying is, look, if the governor needs those employees just be honest with the public when it’s time to present your budget," says Mendoza. "Say ‘I need $10.4 million worth of a budget to cover all my employees’ and then, you know,  free up the budget that’s supposed to be for those other agencies to only be for those other agencies.”

Touted as a bipartisan measure, state rep. David McSweeny (R-Barrington Hills) is the lone republican signed onto the bill in the House, with only democratic support in the Senate. Still, sponsors say this is not specific to Governor Rauner. 

“This is a way of cutting spending," says McSweeny (R-Barrington Hills). We’re not talking about billions of dollars, we’re talking about 5 or 6 million dollars here, but that is why I’m on this resolution. This has nothing to do with embarrassing the governor in this specific case. It has to do with reducing spending.”

Mendoza says, as far as she can tell, every democratic and republican governor in Illinois has participated in this practice to some extent.   

The governor’s office issued this statement: 

We’re open to a conversation about changing bookkeeping practices. But, let’s be clear: all state agencies that operate under Governor Rauner are part of the administration and carry out the necessary functions of state government. Unlike previous administrations, we have been transparent and publicly reported employees that work in our office - reflecting that number in our headcount. All salaries are publicly reported. The Rauner administration is spending less on total agency-wide payroll than the previous administration.

Jaclyn has an MA in Journalism from DePaul University and a BS in History form Monmouth College. Prior to reporting, Jaclyn was a social science teacher and department chair at Greenfield High School. Previously, Jaclyn reported for WICS Newschannel 20 where she covered a variety of assignments including courts, politics, and breaking news. She also reported at Siouxland News in Sioux City Iowa, the shared CBS/Fox television newsroom. Her internships included WGN and Comcast SportsNet in Chicago.
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