Comptroller: Taxpayers on hook for billions in unpaid bills and deficit; and more from INN Radio

Comptroller: Taxpayers on hook for billions in unpaid bills and deficit

The state can’t go bankrupt, but taxpayers who stay in Illinois will have to pay for the fiscal mess which, when combining the backlog of bills with the projected deficit, is more than $13 billion.

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger says if the state had a credit card it would have already blown through its credit limit.

“The bottom line is that the state cannot go bankrupt and that we cannot print money. Taxpayers are going to have to pay this bill.”

Steve Brown, spokesman for Speaker Michael Madigan, says lawmakers already passed a budget … in May of last year.

“The result of the growth in unpaid bills is a function of the bungled decision to veto the budget that was passed by the General Assembly.”

Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed most of that budget saying it was unbalanced to the tune of more than $4 billion. The state is now more than seven months into the fiscal year with no budget in place.

Munger to lawmakers: get together, stop blaming each other and find solutions

Meanwhile imagine you have $100 in the checkbook and then realizing you have $7,000 in bills. Now multiply that by one million. That’s how the comptroller explained Illinois’ cash crunch now seven full months into the fiscal year without a budget.

And taxes alone isn’t the solution. Munger says if a tax increase was the only fix, the income tax would have to be double — putting it close to 8 percent for individuals, something not many people would tolerate.

“I don’t know any legislator who would vote for that and I don’t know many businesses that would stay in Illinois for that. And so as a result we must look at some reforms, some that will help our businesses be more competitive so they can absorb some increase in taxes.”

Munger says there needs to be efficiencies found in every corner of government and lawmakers need to get together, stop blaming each other and find solutions.

Governor pushes for procurement reform to save half-a-billion dollars

The current procurement system in Illinois is an overloaded bureaucracy, ripe for abuse, and Governor Bruce Rauner wants reforms to save taxpayers money.

Steve Brown, spokesman for Speaker Michael Madigan, says the current procurement process was created because of scandals in the past under Republican and Democratic governors, but they’re open to suggestions.

“We will take a look at all of it but we will go to the procurement policy board to offer an analysis.”

However, Governor Rauner was critical of the Procurement Policy Board when talking about reducing the number of chief procurement officers.

“If they set their own rules, they set up their own regulations, they set up their own fiefdoms, then we also have a procurement policy board. They also set up rules, regulations, policies,they have the ability to void contracts.”

Rauner wants to put procurement under Central Management Services and allow the auditor general to conduct spot checks of purchases, something the governor says could save taxpayers over half-a-billion dollars a year.

Rauner: proposed procurement savings could fund MAP grants

Meanwhile Rauner says tax money saved from proposed procurement reform could help cover costs for tuition assistance grants.

“That’s the core of what we are trying to do, streamline the bureaucracy and get the auditor general checking and making sure we are doing what we’re supposed to do instead of having dozens of people and organizations and entities involved in the process.”

Rauner says the money saved could be more than enough to fund MAP grants.

However Brown wants more information on possible savings.

“I would think you would want to be very careful to document any proposed savings that are being promoted.”

Brown says any proposed changes to procurement will be slow moving in the General Assembly if the Procurement Policy Board doesn’t sign off on the reforms.

Author: Phil Rock remembered for expanding party leadership

He’s being remembered as a man who didn’t like to make the political rounds and someone who expanded Democratic party leadership — Philip Rock passed away last week at the age of 78.

Ed Wojcicki (wah-JIH-ski) co-authored a book with Rock titled “Nobody Calls Just to Say Hello” and tells WMAY Springfield one thing the former long-time Senate President will be remembered for is expanding party leadership.

“More blacks were getting elected, particularly from Chicago and south metro east area. They formed a caucus and they said they wanted a person on the leadership team and so he just said ‘fine, you can put whoever you want on there.’”

Wojcicki also said Rock wasn’t someone who would make the rounds at political events but instead worked for the best interest of the people.

Nowlan: Rock was collaborator, not boss, in style

Meanwhile Rock’s leadership style was more collaborative than being a pied piper.

Longtime political insider and aid to several governors Jim Nowlan said, politics aside, Rock was a guy who wanted what’s best for the people.

“He wasn’t a boss in style, he was a collaborator. He could be tough when he had to and leading his democratic troops in the state senate. But he always had his eye on what he thought would be best for the people.”

While some people may have anger towards government Nowlan says Rock was someone who believed government was an instrument for doing good. The Chicago Tribune reports a funeral mass for Rock is scheduled February 11th at Old St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago.