Which governor has the worst record of “off shoring,” Gov. Bruce Rauner or former Gov. Pat Quinn?
That’s a question that bubbled up in a Springfield hearing on Tuesday in which House Democrats accused Rauner’s staff of failing to properly disclose the salaries of employees who report to the governor but are being paid out of other agency budgets.
The practice, referred to as “off-shoring” has been in play for decades in Springfield as a way for governors to make it appear as if they were operating a leaner budget.
Rauner has been under fire for the practice this session after the Chicago Sun-Times first reported that the $250,000 annual salary for his hand-picked Education Secretary Beth Purvis was being paid out of the cash-strapped Department of Human Services budget. The contract was signed weeks before Rauner’s office slashed $26 million in social services from DHS.
Rauner’s office released documentation Tuesday, which admits to taking part in the practice of off-shoring, but compared to Quinn, the governor’s office says it taps $500,000 less in salaries from outside budgets.
Democrats argue otherwise, saying that by their accounting, Rauner pays $1.1 million more in salaries from other budgets than Quinn did. They say Rauner’s grand total of off shoring is more than $3.7 million.
Rauner’s breakdown of employees paid from other departments’ budgets does not include the salaries of three of his top appointees who are pulling in among the largest paychecks in Illinois government. In addition to Purvis, former Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle, now Rauner’s chief operating officer, is drawing a $288,000 salary from the Department of Professional Regulation, according to an analysis by the House Democrats.
And Donna Arduin, the budget consultant Rauner tapped to head up negotiations with lawmakers, drew her $30,000-per-month fee from the Illinois Department of Revenue. Rauner’s office recently extended her contract to August, but slashed her fee in half.
Rauner’s aides argue that Purvis, Lingle and Arduin are all being paid from the appropriate budgets. But the governor’s office did not send a representative to testify before the House Revenue and Finance Committee on Tuesday.
Committee Chair state Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, said he asked Rauner’s office to send an official to explain why there was a discrepancy between past testimony from a top aide to the governor and numbers Democrats say they obtained through the Comptroller’s office.
“The information that I have, the accurate information I have, is that the governor’s office is $1 million more under Rauner – and that’s not including nine employees that appear on the telephone directory and that we can’t determine where they’re being paid from,” Bradley said at the hearing. “This discussion will continue. Simply not coming to a committee that you’re requested to does not mean that the issue is going to go away.”
Rauner’s office has called such hearings a “sham,” saying they are a distraction from the budget crisis facing the state.
“While we understand your desire to hold sham hearings to distract the taxpayers from your vote for an unbalanced budget and your desire to raise taxes without reform,” wrote Deputy Chief of Staff Richard Goldberg in a letter to Bradley dated June 23. “we will continue to negotiate in good faith with Senate Democrats, Mayor Emanuel and Republican Leaders toward a comprehensive bipartisan agreement to turn around Illinois.”