Illinois House passes bill requiring comptroller to post all state expenditures online
The Open Illinois Checkbook Act would shed light on Illinois state finances. It is now en route to the Illinois Senate.
A proposal to make it easier for Illinoisans to see how the state spends their tax dollars cleared its first hurdle in Springfield.
House Bill 313, sponsored by state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, passed unanimously in the Illinois House of Representatives May 1. The bill, which would create the Open Illinois Checkbook Act, now advances to the Senate, where state Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, is the bill’s chief sponsor.
The proposal would require the state comptroller’s office to maintain a publicly accessible online ledger – the “Open Illinois Checkbook” – that documents all state expenditures.
While the comptroller’s current database allows users to break down government spending by agency and purpose of expenditure, it denies Illinoisans information about specific spending items and those receiving state funds.
Under the Open Illinois Checkbook Act, the comptroller would make public the amount and date of each individual expenditure and receiving vendor, in addition to information such as “the State agency making each expenditure, the salaries of each employee, and, to the extent possible, graphical data.”
The latter would be especially useful for Illinoisans who don’t have the time to browse litanies of data, and prefer a more visual presentation of state government spending.
Springfield has a poor record of stewardship over Illinoisans’ tax dollars. Improving transparency is a necessary step toward holding state leaders accountable to taxpayers.
In a state where confidence in state government ranks lowest in the nation, lawmakers would be wise to send HB 313 to the governor’s desk.