Bill restricting government promotional spending advances in General Assembly

Bill restricting government promotional spending advances in General Assembly

An investigation in December 2017 found that a convention for municipalities and public agencies ran taxpayers nearly $120,000 in exhibition and hospitality costs. A proposal making its way through the General Assembly would bar state funds from contributing to these excesses.

A bill that would restrict the way tax dollars can travel with public officials to conferences and business retreats is advancing in Springfield.

House Bill 4247, filed Jan. 12 by state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, would amend the State Finance Act by prohibiting state agencies from spending state funds to pay for or rent promotional booths, hospitality suites and other commercial spaces used for promotional purposes. The bill exempts the restriction, however, for expenditures involving conventions and gatherings for public safety personnel.

The proposal passed the Illinois House Executive Committee March 7 on a 10-0 vote, and now awaits the approval of the full House.

McSweeney introduced the bill alongside two additional proposals on Jan. 12, including House Bill 4246 and House Bill 4248, both of which also pertain to government spending on conventions. These two bills currently reside in the Rules Committee.

These spending bills came following an investigation by the Daily Herald in which the suburban paper found officials representing six state agencies, dozens of municipalities and the Pace bus service cost Illinois taxpayers nearly $120,000 at the Illinois Municipal League, or IML, convention in September 2017.

During the three-day convention, organizers spent nearly $10,000 on promotional exhibition booths, including $6,500 in taxpayer dollars on the IML exhibition space. And more than $2,300 was spent on hotel rooms between just four of the agencies, according to the Daily Herald. The investigation also found that some public officials spent extravagantly on cocktails and dinners, with six representatives from Addison alone breezing through more than $8,600 on registration, food, transportation and lodging.

HB 4247 would make a commendable stride toward protecting taxpayers from public officials’ abuse of their funds.

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