Senate passes bipartisan legislation to protect taxpayer funds

Springfield – Legislation aimed at protecting the integrity of the non-profit grant process has passed the Illinois Senate, according to State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) and Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park), the chief sponsors of the legislation.

“State grants help fund non-profit organizations that are typically undertaking important work, from stopping violence to helping the environment,” said Sen. Barickman. “The goal of this legislation is to make sure that grant funds are used properly and for the right purposes.”

The bipartisan legislation was inspired by the work of Barickman and Cullerton on the Legislative Audit Commission, a bipartisan panel tasked with reviewing state government audits and spending.

“I am going to work to eliminate government waste wherever and whenever I can. This is a common sense measure that will make sure government is working for the people,” Sen. Cullerton said. “As elected officials it’s our duty to end the misuse of state funds, and this is step in the right direction.”

The bill makes a multitude of changes to the current grant process. The most significant changes involve new restrictions on fund transfers, including a prohibition on transfers of money from appropriated funds to non-appropriated funds. Barickman says this restricts Governors from transferring money into other state funds to be used for purposes other than what the legislature intended, and without legislative oversight.

In addition, the bill creates a mechanism to allow the Comptroller to stop payments in cases where there are serious issues or concerns about a particular grant program or recipient.

The legislation also creates a blackout period before elections during which members of the Illinois General Assembly and/or state constitutional officers would not be allowed to make announcements of grants. The goal of this change is stop the elected officials from attempting to create grant programs to help boost their political exposure or benefit their campaign.

“It’s our duty to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money and make sure it is spent how and where it is supposed to be,” said Sen. Barickman. “I believe this will protect these good programs and allow taxpayers to have faith in the integrity of the grant system.”

Senate Bill 2540 is now headed to the House for consideration in that chamber.

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