RSWEBSITE2017SPRINGFIELD – Three years after the initial outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy, residents of that facility and others like it are still waiting for Gov. Bruce Rauner to be proactive in detecting and removing Legionella bacteria from state-run facilities.

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) took charge of the situation Thursday by passing House Bill 4278, which requires an Illinois veterans Home to notify facility residents and their emergency contacts within 24 hours if two or more residents in the home have been diagnosed with an infectious disease in period of one month or less.

“This is a commonsense measure that puts the health of our veterans ahead of bureaucracy,” Cullerton said. “In 2015, the families of the servicemen and women residing the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy should have been notified of the Legionnaires’ disease epidemic, but Gov. Rauner’s administration left them and their loved ones in the dark. This is simply unacceptable and we can’t let it happen again.”  

House Bill 4278 also requires veterans homes to post notification of the incidence of the infectious disease in a visible place near the facility’s main entrance.  Once those requirements have been met, they must notify the Departments of Veterans’ Affairs and Public Health of the incidence of the infectious disease.

“When your loved one is in harm’s way, you want to know,” Cullertons said. “This measure ensures that caretakers and family members have health care information as soon as possible to make the best possible medical decisions.”

The measure was introduced in response to Rauner’s mismanagement of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at the Quincy Veterans Home. Despite signs of the spread of bacteria reaching epidemic proportions, the state did not notify the public about the deadly 2015 outbreak until nearly a week later.

This week WBEZ reported that a workplace safety reprimand was issued by the state Department of Labor which said the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to effectively notify all employees of the outbreak. This undermines the insistent claims by Director Erica Jeffries that her department was “very clear” in its Legionnaires’ warnings to Quincy staff.

“This is a real shame. The gross mismanagement of the Quincy Veterans Home is disgraceful,” Cullerton said. “If the governor’s administration is refusing to use common sense, the General Assembly will put protocol and procedures in place to ensure our nation’s heroes receive the best possible care and service we can offer.”

House Bill 4278 is supported by the Better Government Association, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Illinois AMVETS. It passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support.

resizeSPRINGFIELD  –  A bill introduced in the Illinois Senate would mandate transparency and accuracy in the governor’s annual budget proposal.

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) advanced House Bill 5814, which forces the governor’s office to record late interest payments as a separate line item in its appropriations to state agencies. This paints a clearer picture of the state’s funds and slows the depletion of funding needed to run those agencies.

“As legislators, we can’t negotiate a proper budget when we don’t know how much money is owed or where it is going,” Cullerton said. “Utilizing responsible accounting practices in state government will allow the citizens of Illinois to know how and where their valuable tax dollars are spent.”

Currently, most late payment interest penalties accrue at a rate of 12 percent per month for bills unpaid after 90 days, while healthcare bills accumulate interest at a rate of 9 percent after 30 days.

The interest penalties are paid from the same appropriation line, depleting the amount a state agency can spend for its operations. Cullerton’s bill forces the governor’s budget to include separate line item requests to for prompt pay interest payments.

“This practice will force all future governors to be more realistic when presenting a budget to the general assembly and public,” Cullerton said. “We need to make sure governors, whether they are republican and democrat, do not attempt to hide behind phony numbers.”

The comptroller’s January 2018 Debt Transparency Report confirmed that taxpayers owe approximately $887 million in late payment interest penalties — despite the fact that over $140 million in interest penalties was paid out in calendar 2017.

This bipartisan measure is an initiative of Comptroller Susana Mendoza and is supported by the Better Government Association.

House Bill 5814 passed the Senate’s State Government Committee with bipartisan support and moves to the full Senate for consideration.

IMG 0098RSSPRINGFIELD – Villa Park Democrat Tom Cullerton is working to ensure government in DuPage County is as efficient as possible and no bigger than necessary.

According to DuPage County, Cullerton’s House Bill 5123 would help create at least $300,000 a year in taxpayer savings by allowing the county to merge its county board of election commissioners with the county clerk’s office.

“Eliminating redundant functions of government saves valuable tax dollars and leads to lower property tax bills,” Cullerton said. “This measure will empower the people of DuPage County to make active decisions on how government will work for them. This is a win for everyone involved.”

The bill would require an ordinance or resolution from the county board to dissolve a county board of election commissioners. Most election authorities are run through the county clerk’s office and DuPage is one of only two counties in Illinois that currently has a board of election commissioners at the county level. 

Cullerton said the DuPage County Election Commission has had issues the last few elections which increases the need for the measure.

House Bill 5123 is a measure supported by the DuPage County Board, Better Government Association, Metropolitan Planning Council and the city of Aurora.

“Senator Tom Cullerton has been a leader on consolidation issues that have saved the taxpayers of DuPage County millions," said Dan Cronin, Chairman of the DuPage County Board.

In March, voters in DuPage approved a nonbinding referendum, with 56 percent, to merge the DuPage County Election Commission with the DuPage County Clerk's Office.

House Bill 5123 passed the Senate’s Executive Committee with bipartisan support and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Tom Cullerton is working with the Better Government Association to put a stop to bloated golden parachutes for failed state employees.

Senate Bill 3604 eliminates severance packages for employees that have been fired for misconduct and limits government-paid severance packages to an amount no greater than 20 weeks of compensation. Cullerton expects it to be heard by the full Senate this week.

“Giving out golden parachutes to poorly-behaved public officials isn’t just bad policy, it’s theft,” Cullerton said. “This is a commonsense reform that protects the public from bailing out bad actors. It is plain and simple – if you betray the trust of DuPage County taxpayers, you will not be rewarded with taxpayer money.”

The BGA and Cullerton have been working together to fight the misuse of taxpayer dollars.

"For too long, taxpayers have had to foot six-figure severance deals to make public executives go away,” said Madeleine Doubek, the BGA's Policy and Civic Engagement Director. “Being asked to leave, often under questionable circumstances, shouldn't be like hitting a lottery jackpot. With Sen. Cullerton's leadership, the Government Severance Pay Act will bring a fair, commonsense approach to ending golden parachutes."

Elected government officials are frequently advised to grant rich severances in an attempt to head off employment litigation, Cullerton said. By adopting the Government Severance Pay Act, state lawmakers can set a clean, clear path that will eliminate those decisions for elected officials. Similar policies are in place in other states, including Florida.

“Now is the time to get control of these huge buyouts and institute some best practices,” Cullerton said.

Cullerton has continued to call for tougher regulations to stop state universities and community colleges from buying out administrators that are under investigation or found guilty of mismanagement. This is another step in his quest to put an end to this wasteful practice.

“Our state cannot afford to waste a single penny, especially to help folks who treat taxpayers like their own personal piggy bank,” Cullerton said.

If passed by the full Senate, the bill would go to the House for further approval.

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