Comptroller Mendoza urges override of Rauner’s veto on Debt Transparency Act

Susana MendozaIllinois Comptroller

Aug 22, 2017

Don’t taxpayers deserve to know how much debt the state has run up in their names?

Governor Bruce Rauner doesn’t think so. Last Friday he vetoed the Debt Transparency Act, bipartisan legislation to give taxpayers more information about state finances.

The state’s unpaid bill backlog currently stands at $14.8 billion. Nearly half of that total is being held by state agencies, and the late payment interest penalties Illinois owes on its unpaid bills go up approximately $2 million a day.

Currently, agencies are only required to disclose the bills they are holding once a year, but this legislation would require them to share that information monthly and estimate the amount of interest penalties on those liabilities

This proposal is a no-brainer. Agencies already have the personnel and infrastructure in place to compile the data. The issue of state finances is more critical than ever, and taxpayers deserve greater transparency and accountability. Newspapers around the state are urging legislators to override the Governor’s veto.

In his veto message, the Governor said his staff should not have to work harder to get the numbers out monthly. But the truth is, his efforts to hold back real time data from the public cost taxpayers far more than any additional work his staff would have to perform to let the public know the extent of the state’s debt and the interest it is incurring – at least $800 million in late payment interest penalties so far.

A governor dismissing reasonable disclosure requirements as “micromanagement” calls into question whether he is really up to the task at hand. The Governor should start managing his agencies’ budgets and honestly disclosing their debts. I urge legislators to vote in the interest of taxpayers all across this state this week and override the Governor’s veto.

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