Jul 24
Thursday

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Office Information

Springfield Office:
Senator 26th District
105D Capitol Building
Springfield, IL   62706
(217) 782-8010
 
 
District Office:
111 North Avenue
Suite 211
Barrington, IL  60010
(847) 277-7100
(847) 277-7101 FAX
Audit Commission hearing on Quinn’s NRI program to be held next week

State Sen. Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington) said the legislative panel examining a scandal-plagued grant program created by Governor Quinn will consider at its July 16 meeting an unusual request to place their investigation on temporary hold.

The Legislative Audit Commission is scheduled to hold hearings July 16-17 on the Governor’s controversial Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. Subpoenas have been approved seeking testimony from seven former Quinn administration officials. But, the Audit Commission also expects to consider a request from the U.S. Justice Department to wait 90 days before proceeding.  The U.S. Justice Department made the request to ensure that the Audit Commission’s investigation would not interfere with their investigation.

The co-chairman of the panel, Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) said it should be up to the full panel of lawmakers on the Audit Commission to consider the request and decide if they should proceed. The request did not come from prosecutors, but rather from the Justice Department’s Legislative Affairs division. He pointed out that witnesses have already been subpoenaed and told to appear July 16.

In other news, another ongoing controversy was on display this week as a prominent anti-patronage crusader challenged Governor Quinn’s efforts to shield his administration’s hiring practices from the scrutiny of a federal monitor.

Michael Shakman, a prominent anti-patronage lawyer, filed a challenge in federal court July 8, declaring Quinn’s attempts to block the appointment of a monitor a “straw man” argument.

Shakman, who is best known for a 1972 anti-patronage court decree that bears his name, is seeking a federal monitor to review hiring at the state, following revelations of widespread political hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation under Quinn and his predecessor, Rod Blagojevich.

 
Quinn signs budget into law

This week, Governor Quinn signed the bulk of the state budget into law a day before the new fiscal year began.  

State Sen. Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington) said that while the budget does not include an extension of the 67 percent tax increase pushed by Democrats throughout the legislative session, the Governor and his legislative allies have not abandoned the idea.  Rather, they have deferred from taking action on extending the increase until after the fall elections.

The FY15 budget is based on a revenue estimate of $35.352 billion and total General Revenue Funds spending is approximately $35.4 billion.

It relies on $650 million in inter-fund borrowing, also known as fund sweeps, $167 million in natural growth over original estimates, and another $40 million in hospital assessments.

The Governor sole cut in the budget was the elimination of a $250 million re-appropriation for Capitol building renovation and restoration. Critics pointed out that the cut was not real, as the money was not going to be spent in the coming year anyway.

Governor Quinn left untouched all other earmarks, shell games and fund diversions.

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Subpoenas approved in controversial Quinn program

State Sen. Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington) said this week, attention remained focused on a controversial grant program Governor Quinn started shortly before the 2010 election.  The program has since become the subject of several investigations, a highly critical state audit and now, the likely topic of subpoenaed testimony from several of his former aides.

The bipartisan Legislative Audit Commission approved subpoenas for seven former Quinn administration officials, to compel them to testify before the commission July 16 and 17. The controversy stems from the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI), a $55 million program that drew questions almost from its beginning as reports surfaced of questionable spending, poor record keeping and indications of political cronyism in the awarding of grants.

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Federal NRI Probe Revealed

More problems surfaced for Governor Quinn’s controversial Neighborhood Recovery Initiative during the week when news broke that the Cook County State’s Attorney and federal prosecutors were investigating the program.

The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative was announced in October of 2010, less than a month before a close gubernatorial election. In less than two weeks, $30 million was allocated to the program – before the staff that was tasked with administering the program was ever notified.

In 2012 CNN spent four months investigating the program and ran a report that raised questions about what was, at that point a $55 million program. Their investigation uncovered that not only did NRI pay teens to hand out fliers promoting inner peace, to take field trips to museums, and attend yoga classes – it also paid them to march in political parades with Governor Quinn.

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Another One Bites the Dust

This week a Constitutional Amendment co-sponsored by State Senator Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington) that would have allowed Illinois voters to decide whether to impose a two-term limit on the state’s Executive Branch officers was blocked in a Senate Executive Subcommittee when majority Democrats voted to keep the bill in subcommittee rather than allowing it to advance to a vote in the full committee and on the Senate floor.

“We have seen this happen time and time again with Republican proposals to make Government better,” said Duffy. “Instead of giving voters the chance to weigh in on an important issue, Illinois Democrats decided they knew better than the public and killed the bill in subcommittee. This is an important issue, and one that the people of Illinois should have had the chance to decide.”

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