SPRINGFIELD – State grants will soon be subject to additional scrutiny and specifically restricted from political use with the August 27 signing of two new laws sponsored by State Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont)
“State grants account for hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year, yet right now it is extremely difficult to track these funds and what they are being use for,” Radogno explained. “I have no doubt that most organizations use grant money for legitimate purposes, but that’s obviously not always the case. These new laws will not only make it easier to review how grant monies are being used, but ensure the dollars aren’t being used in an inappropriate manner—such as furthering someone’s political ambitions.”
Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, Senate Bill 2380 will restrict state grant dollars from being used for prohibited political activities. To more easily track state grants, Senate Bill 2381 requires the state’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) to develop a system to collect state financial data, including information specific to the management and administration of grant funds, and make the information available on www.data.illinois.gov for public review.
Radogno introduced the new laws in response to a four-month 2012 CNN investigation that revealed millions of taxpayer-financed grant dollars had been used by Gov. Pat Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative grant program to finance a variety of questionable activities. The money was used to pay teenagers to march in a parade with the Governor, hand out flyers promoting inner peace, take field trips to museums, and attend a yoga class. The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative program is now being audited by the state’s Auditor General.
“This legislation will make it very clear that grant recipients cannot use taxpayer dollars to finance any sort of political activity,” said Radogno. “This would include paying people to march in a parade for an elected official, or using goods or services paid with state grant dollars for a political purpose.”
Photo by Sun-Times