From Illinois Policy Institute -
SPRINGFIELD – State Sens. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) and Kirk Dillard (R-Westmont) are sponsoring legislation that would bring accountability and transparency to the way state grant dollars are spent.
During fiscal year 2011, the state handed out more than $1.1 billion in grants to nonprofit organizations across Illinois, yet taxpayers are in the dark about how any of that money was spent. Senate Bill 3773 would rectify this.
“You wouldn’t think twice about asking for an itemized receipt at your local grocer’s or at the end of Friday night dinner at a restaurant,” said Sen. Sandoval. “The state has a greater obligation to do the same thing with organizations that are receiving taxpayer money. When we’re handing out more than $1 billion on grants, and we’re facing real cuts that could hurt Illinoisans, the public has a right to know how this money is being spent. That’s what this legislation does, and that’s why it’s so powerful.”
Sen. Dillard, who was chief co-sponsor of the 2009 legislation that created the state’s existing transparency portal, echoed Sen. Sandoval’s support for the bill.
“Two years ago I was a chief cosponsor of legislation that resulted in the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal. The portal established an unprecedented level of transparency in Illinois, a state that has been dogged by corruption for years,” said Sen. Dillard. “Today we take the next step forward. Beyond telling taxpayers how much money was spent, this bill empowers citizens to know how the money was spent, where it was spent and who spent it. They will be able to make judgment calls about whether this money was spent wisely or not.”
This bill would strengthen the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal statue to include grant recipient information. Under this bill, grant recipients would be responsible for submitting to the state contact information, a breakdown of funding sources by government-type, and a statement of grant goals, among other information. After the grant is dispersed, the recipient would provide the state with a table of expenditures and describing the achieved results. All of these documents would be posted online available for public viewing at the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal, which was launched in 2009. Grant recipients that fail to comply would be placed on a public noncompliance list. After two months of noncompliance, funding would be suspended and they would not be eligible for additional state dollars until they were compliant.
The Illinois Policy Institute is supportive of this legislation, and released a report Monday describing why this bill is needed.
“The state’s transparency portal provides useful, top-line information on state grants to nonprofits groups, but it’s a dead end for taxpayers who want to know how grant money was spent and what results were achieved,” said Kristina Rasmussen, Executive Vice President of the Illinois Policy Institute. “There’s really no good way for lawmakers or taxpayers to determine if a grant delivered its promised results -- let alone if it was done in an efficient manner. The bipartisan transparency initiative spearheaded by state Sens. Sandoval and Dillard builds on best practices to get useful grant information out of agency filing cabinets and put at the fingertips of Illinois residents."
The Institute’s report is available online at: http://www.illinoispolicy.org/granttransparency