Illinois Senate to vote on historic transparency bill
House Bill 2717 is the type of good-government reform Illinoisans are thirsting for.
Near the end of April, members of the Illinois House of Representatives shelved budget debates and passed a groundbreaking transparency bill.
House Bill 2717, sponsored by Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, had seven Democrat co-sponsors to go along with six Republicans who also signed onto the bill. Now that the bill has passed out of the House, it will move to the Senate for a vote.
HB 2717 requires all governmental agencies with an operating budget over $1 million to maintain a website on which they must provide meeting information, budgets and appropriations, audits, financial reports and expenditures, revenue breakdowns, rules governing contract bidding, pension expenditures and investments, and public notices.
This is the type of good-government reform Illinoisans are thirsting for, as evidenced by its broad, bipartisan support. Citizens will be able to see where their money is being spent, when meetings are held to make those decisions, and who is getting the contracts to do government work, among other things.
This bill is also a big cost-saver for cash-strapped local governments, as it will save countless hours of paid staff time fulfilling Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, requests. If this bill becomes law, an agency would be able to legally deny all FOIA requests asking for information already posted on the agency’s website.
In addition to saving time, it would also limit costly lawsuits – paid for by taxpayers – arising from mishandled FOIA requests.
Missteps and outright corruption in Illinois government are nothing new. The state’s citizen watchdogs need all the help they can get. If HB 2717 becomes law, it will at least lower the barriers to entry for the average Illinoisan to keep their government accountable – a transformational outcome in a state known for political wrongdoing.