052214 js 0399VILLA PARK — State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is working to guarantee that vital taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly in Springfield.

Cullerton submitted a letter to Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office asking them to place a hold on rent payments for a $2.4 million rental storage space in Springfield.

The comptroller’s office said Thursday it has placed on hold rent payments for warehouse space in Springfield that’s been criticized by state lawmakers.

“Governor Rauner’s attempt to shake up Springfield has turned into a shakedown of Illinois’ taxpayers,” Cullerton said. “The governor needs to quit cutting deals for his friends and focus on cutting waste, fraud and abuse in our state. Right now our schools are struggling to make ends meet, yet there are funds available to perpetuate what is clearly wasteful spending. We cannot afford this. This needs to be a stop right now.”

Cullerton and State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) sent a joint letter to the comptroller’s office requesting a record of rent payments and asking if there is any intention to make more.

The Department of Human Services moved documents from a closed state prison, which had little to no cost to taxpayers.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration had said that the prison building was in disrepair and the paperwork needed to be moved. But the state’s prison director told members of an Illinois Senate committee this week that he had no knowledge of this. He said he would try to get some answers.

“Renting another building for $2.4 million, when we have a usable state facility isn’t an effective or efficient use of state funds,” Cullerton said. “The more we learn about the leasing agreement the more alarming it becomes. I’m thankful we have the time to examine this further before we release valuable state dollars.”

The former Barney’s Furniture building is being leased from Chicago-based Climate Controlled Holdings LLC, which bought the building when Barney’s relocated. One of the owners of the company is William Cellini’s son-in-law.

Cellini, a politically connected businessman, served a time in prison after his conviction in 2011 of a failed attempt to shake down Oscar-winning film producer Thomas Rosenberg for a $1.5 million contribution to the campaign of currently imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

“At the end of the day, the governor prioritized paper over people,” Cullerton said. “Governor Rauner needs to do his job and put our children, seniors, veterans and our most vulnerable over the interests of his friends. Now is the time to lead.”