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News from State Rep. Dan Brady
Capitol Commentary from Sen. Bill
As the Legislative Audit Commission met July 16-17 to continue its investigation into Governor Pat Quinn’s failed Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, the Governor sought to deflect criticism of the management of the program he started in 2010, by signing a measure intended to increase accountability in state grant awards.
House Bill 2747 creates the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act, which would adopt federal uniform rules for grants issued by state agencies. The goal is to eliminate duplicative and conflicting guidance; provide for consistent and transparent treatment of allowable costs charged to grants; set standard application processes; reduce administrative burdens; and place greater reliance on audit reports to increase efficiency in required monitoring activities.
While applauding the intent, critics raised concerns because the legislation allows the Governor to appoint the members of the board that is supposed to oversee the actions of the Governor’s administration.
Failed program moved to Labor Department?
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Grant awards have been at the heart of the controversy over the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI), with regular news stories detailing questionable and, in some cases, fraudulent activities related to grants handed out under the program.
Although the Governor has publicly tried to put the program behind him, lawmakers point to $20 million in new spending in the current budget that they say could be used to fund a re-branded version of the same failed program. That $20 million was handed off to the Illinois Department of Labor with a vague description to fund a program that sounds almost identical to the NRI.
Critics say a recent study illustrates the cost to taxpayers of politicized programs like the NRI.
Researchers from Indiana University and City University of Hong Kong recently released a study that attempts to put a dollar figure on public corruption. Illinois was among the states studied and the professors said that in the 10 most corrupt states (with Illinois among those 10) taxpayers pay an average “corruption tax” of $1,308 per person.
Audubon Society to present Programs about the Environment
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Tim McGraw Concert set Sept. 12 at the Corn Crib
The Normal CornBelters, presented by Illinois Corn Farmers, have announced that Tim McGraw’s Sundown Heaven Town Tour will stop at the Corn Crib on Friday, September 12. The CornBelters will play their first regular season home game of the 2014 season (“CEFCU Opening Night”) at The Corn Crib on Friday, May 16 at 7 p.m. versus the Evansville Otters.
Corn Crib Alum Jana Kramer and newcomer Dakota Bradley will be the opening acts for the concert, which will be produced once again by S.A.W. Events. The gates will open at 5:30 with the show getting under way at 7 p.m. Tickets will be $60 for reserved seats and general admission field tickets. VIP pit tickets will be $105. Parking is available at the Corn Crib and will be $20 per car.
CornBelters corporate partners, package ticket holders and host families will have a pre-sale opportunity to purchase tickets from Wednesday, March 5 - Tuesday, March 11 by phone and in-person only.
E-mail newsletter subscribers will have a pre-sale opportunity to purchase tickets online only beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 13. The promo code will be sent out to all the newsletter subscribers on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 12 and the promo code will be valid from 8 a.m. Thursday, March 13 until 9 a.m. on Friday, March 14.
Tickets to the general public will go on sale Friday, March 14th at 10 a.m. To purchase tickets stop by the Mid-Illini Credit Union Box Office or call 309-454-BALL during normal business hours. Tickets can also be purchased anytime online at www.normalbaseball.com.
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Sugar Grove Nature Center Happenings
Sugar Grove Nature Center is located in beautiful, historic Funks Grove, just south of Bloomington-Normal. For a map and directions to the Nature Center, membership and program information visit us on-line at
For more information phone 309.874.2174 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Sugar Grove Nature Center is located in beautiful, historic Funks Grove, just south of Bloomington-Normal. For a map and directions to the Nature Center, membership and program information visit us on-line at www.sugargrovenaturecenter.org.
Local Schools Pay ‘Corruption Tax” for Chicagofrom State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington)
A scathing report on the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has raised concerns that area school districts are paying a “corruption tax” that subsidizes waste, mismanagement and fraud and shortchanges schools in the 53rd District and across Illinois, State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) says.
Barickman joined other downstate and suburban lawmakers on Thursday, in a renewed push to prioritize education funding and eliminate a special block grant which allows CPS to end-run the school aid formula.
“Schools in my area are owed more than $16 million in backlogged payments, while circumventing the state’s allocation formulas allows Chicago schools to get at least $230 million in ‘extra’ funding from the state,” State Senator Barickman said. “At the same time, a recent report from the Chicago Board of Education Inspector General exposed a disturbing pattern of waste, abuse and even outright fraud.
Barickman said the unequal treatment between Chicago and other schools districts “amounts to a corruption tax, because local school districts get shortchanged while the Chicago schools are allowed to go around the allocation formula and that helps offset the money the school district wastes through abuse and fraud.”
Barickman explained that the Chicago Board of Education Inspector General’s Annual Report for 2013 came to light recently during the Senate’s state budget review process.
That report found cases of school administrators faking data and even creating ‘ghost students’ to pad enrollment and secure more funding.
The waste and fraud identified by the Inspector General was particularly disturbing, Barickman said, because many school districts in the 53rd District and surrounding areas are still owed money by the state, primarily for “mandated categorical” programs such as transportation, special education and free lunch programs for poor children.
According to figures supplied by the Illinois State Board of Education, school districts in the 53rd District, including McLean County District 5, El Paso-Gridley, Prairie Central, Lexington and others are owed just over $8 million, while other area school districts, including Bloomington, Kankakee and Danville are also owed more than $8 million.
“School districts that are owed thousands of dollars in back payment should be justifiably outraged that they aren’t getting the payments they deserve, while the kinds of abuse outlined in the Inspector General’s report are occurring,” Barickman said.
Earlier this year, a special bipartisan Education Funding Advisory Committee, which Barickman served on, recommended eliminating the Chicago schools block grant.
Barickman said as the committee studied school funding, they found that the special Chicago block grant serves as a separate funding stream granted to Chicago Public Schools that allows the school district to bypass funding formulas used for every other school district in the state.
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