General Assembly passes Barickman’s legislation to safeguard taxpayer funds

Springfield – Both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly have now passed State Sen. Jason Barickman’s (R-Bloomington) legislation to restore the safety and accountability of the state’s grant process.

“I’m proud that we were able to work through both chambers and pass this common-sense bipartisan legislation,” said Sen. Barickman. “The people of Illinois should be able to have faith that the state is spending taxpayer funds ethically and efficiently, which is the goal of this legislation.”

Barickman’s legislation, Senate Bill 2540 makes numerous changes to the state grant process, including a prohibition on governors transferring money from appropriated to non-appropriated funds. The legislation was largely inspired by Senator Barickman’s work on the Legislative Audit Commission, particularly the audit process of former Governor Quinn’s controversial and heavily criticized Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI). NRI was initially launched with funds transferred from appropriated to non-appropriated funds, which, according to a former Auditor General, allowed Quinn to circumvent 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.

“I think this is an example of learning from the mistakes of the past,” said Sen. Barickman. “We are taking what we learned from the wasteful and controversial NRI program and crafting legislation to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

When the legislation originally passed the Senate, it included a blackout period to stop members of the General Assembly and/or constitutional officers from announcing new grants close to elections. That section was removed by amendment in the Illinois House. Barickman says the House amendment process also added some positive technical changes as well.

“I appreciate the work done on this legislation in the House. There were some improvements, and also some changes that may have been necessary to pass the bill at this time in that chamber,” said Sen. Barickman. “I still believe in the concept of the blackout period and I will continue to develop that idea in future legislation. But overall, this is still a good bill that makes significant improvements to the grant process. This is a win for the taxpayers.”

Senate Bill 2540 is now headed to the Governor for his signature.

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