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Governor, Comptroller At Odds Over Debt Transparency Approval

Gov. Bruce Rauner, left, Comptroller Susana Mendoza, and State Sen. Andy Manar

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza hailed the legislative override of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the Debt Transparency Act this week. The governor strongly disagreed.

The new law requires state agencies to report how many bills they’ve stacked up on a monthly basis. Currently, they only have to do this once per year.

“We don't really know how many bills are sitting at the Governor's agencies. Sometimes we get bombarded by an overnight surprise of a billion dollars worth of bills we never knew about,” Mendoza said. “The legislators said clearly that we need a more accountable cash and debt management process.”

Sponsoring Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, says this will give Mendoza a clearer picture of how much the state owes. 

“The bill, I think, is just a simple straight-up, open the books a little bit more of state government, make state government a little more transparent,” he said.

But the governor remains adamant he made the right choice.

"That's a make-work bill,” Rauner insisted. “We're going to waste a lot of money generating reports monthly that are going to be almost immediately worthless because things change on a day-to-day basis. What we should be putting our money into is our computer systems so everything is transparent real-time." 

The governor went on to blame Democrats for not making information-technology upgrades a priority.

"State senators from both parties said the Governor is wrong,” Medoza said. “The Governor should not be hiding bills.”

Only three Republicans in the entire General Assembly sided with Rauner during the override votes.

The comptroller also used money from a recent bond sale to start paying down the state’s more than $16 billion backlog.

  • NPR Illinois Managing Editor Sean Crawford and WNIJ's Chase Cavanaugh contributed to this report.