On the campaign trail in Charleston yesterday, GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady touted an idea that his Republican colleagues in the General Assembly have championed all year: a "forensic audit"
of state government. The catchy-sounding approach to budgeting taps
into the zeitgeist of the times; to root out "waste and fraud," Brady
wants the state's Auditor General to review every state spending bill,
government hire, and government contract approved over the last nine
years. Republicans in both the Illinois House and Senate backed
resolutions along these lines in the spring.
just one problem with the forensic audit. It might cost more money than
it saves. William Holland, the state's auditor general, testified
against the resolutions this spring. He said a such a measure, which
presupposes that every transaction is shady until proven clean, would
force his office to review 135 million transactions and 50,000
contracts. As he told the assembled lawmakers, that would take "an
immense, gigantic, astronomical" amount of money and time to complete.
We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars. On top of that, the workload would cut into the time his office has to conduct its routine annual audits. "Now I would be going down two rails," he said. Listen below:
look on the bright side, though; the forensic audit might force the
state to hire more investigators. Maybe the GOP should sell it as a jobs plan ...
Congress will have just seven days
to reauthorize four tiers of emergency unemployment benefits when
lawmakers return from the fall recess. Even if the U.S. Senate can
somehow manage to squeak an extension through in time, 99ers -- the group of workers who have exhausted the maximum weeks of benefits available -- will undoubtedly be left out to dry.
Already, Senate Republicans blocked
legislation that would have added 20 weeks of benefits in states where
the unemployment rate is above 7.5 percent. In response, a group of
99ers have produced this moving video explaining
the dire economic situation those 1.4 million Americans are facing.
Establishing a "fifth tier" of benefits and promoting job growth, they argue, should be an
urgent priority. Watch it:
Gov. Pat Quinn says he's trying to speed up the state's late bill payments, which are the slowest
in the nation. "I have a lump sum budget and I'm trying to navigate our
state through paying the bills [and] at the same time, keeping people
working," he told Chicago Public Radio.
This spring, the General Assembly did not appropriate enough
money for the governor's office to pay its annual obligations and
erase the state's cumulative deficit. Illinois still has to make $2
billion in payments leftover from last fiscal year and has already accumulated $3.5
billion in new debt during the first quarter of FY 2011. Gov. Quinn, however, has come under fire from some service providers for spending money on two new programs instead of prioritizing the state's bill backlog.
The home foreclosure crisis was upended this week by escalating probes into the banks' foreclosure paperwork. But the freezes on foreclosure proceedings and sales need to be accompanied by more principal write-downs and loan modifications by the banks, advocates say.
Thanks to the $30 billion small business lending fund signed into law
by President Barack Obama, the U.S. Treasury Department announced a $1.5
billion lending package to promote small business growth at the state level. Illinois will receive the forth largest amount of any state, $78.37 million.
A recent survey
of 153 Chicago-area businesses found that only 13 percent planned to
hire more workers in the next six months, almost 10 percent lower than
the national average. Local business owners surveyed were also more
pessimistic than their peers elsewhere about the potential for a quick
That's how many days Congress will have when it returns from the fall recess to reauthorize an emergency unemployment benefits program. It took the U.S. Senate 50 days to pass the last extension, which is set to expire November
30. Over 115,000 Illinois residents had exhausted their benefits when
Congress stepped in last time. Expect another big drop in consumer demand if folks in Washington don't come through once again.