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ILLINOIS

Illinois

State Recovery Act Website: http://www.recovery.illinois.gov

Illinois' state Recovery Act website initially scored 0 out of 100 possible points (ranking last, 50th) on Good Jobs First's 51-state study of state stimulus websites entitled Show Us the Stimulus. To Illinois' credit, a revised website has recently been released. The Governor's office contacted us about the revision.

Whereas the previous website displayed very little information that other states' websites included, the updated site scores below average with 20 out of 100 possible points (ranking 28th, a 6-way tie). The main Recovery Act website now includes a broad and narrow breakdown by program categories, the availability of some data on clearly linked agency sites, and indication that the information has been updated within the last month. Contractor information: none.

Illinois initially scored lowest-0 out of 100 (ranking 50th)-on its disclosure of information specifically about highway projects funded by the Recovery Act.  A recently updated website still fares below average -30 out of 100 (ranking 43rd, a 3-way tie). The score reflects newly added maps of individual projects, contractors' names and award amounts, descriptions of projects, and indications that the data are less than a month old. Contractor information: available here.

For detailed scoring information, see the Illinois appendix of Show Us the Stimulus.

The City of Chicago has its own website entitled ARRA: City of Chicago's Plan for Federal Economic Stimulus Funds. It contains data on expenditures funded by ARRA, projected or proposed spending and policy steps, with links to the related city government press releases. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning provides updates and reports on key ARRA issues as they affect the Chicago region.

Coordination & Oversight

Jack Lavin, who was the Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) throughout the Blagojevich Administration, oversees Illinois' Recovery Act implementation as Gov. Quinn's Chief Operating Officer. As DCEO Director, Lavin strongly but unsuccessfully opposed passage of the 2003 Corporate Accountability in Tax Expenditures Act.

Illinois is one of the 16 states that will receive special stimulus scrutiny from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

On August 10th, Gov. Quinn signed into law the Federal Stimulus Tracking Act (HB 571). The act requires the Governor's office, or an appointed state agency, to track and report stimulus spending each month. The monthly report will detail spending across categories, list any required matching funding, and issue recommendations to maximize spending. A final report shall be released on December 31st, 2014. These reports will be available on the State of Illinois website, however, none have been released to the public yet.

Despite a step in the right direction, issues still remain. The Illinois Office of Internal Audit assessed 22 state agencies and found 9 to be high-risk, primarily because they received large amounts of funding, lacked monitoring of sub-recipients, and/or were inadequately staffed to track the flow of funds. One of the agencies included in that list was the Department of Transportation who is hiring a consultant to monitor sub-recipients.

Policy Debates

The main controversies related to Illinois ARRA spending to date seem linked to pre-existing controversies about education and state energy policy.

A Chicago Tribune editorial cited Education Secretary Arne Duncan's comments to criticize the state's teachers unions as obstacles to education reform, particularly for their opposition to removing the limit on the number of charter schools in the state. Duncan-a Daley appointee who ran the Chicago school system over seven years before joining the Obama administration-was quoted as saying Illinois would have a hard time competing for $5 billion in ARRA funds for education:  "... Illinois has to change its behavior. Business as usual, to be clear, would basically eliminate Illinois from the competition." However, the editorial did not note that union positions may be changing: the Illinois Federation of Teachers has even begun to unionize charter schools.

Also potentially controversial is a renewed effort, supported by Illinois politicians in both parties, to use ARRA grants to rekindle the FutureGen "clean coal" project scrapped by President Bush last year.  FutureGen, which is designed to "sequester" noxious greenhouse gases from burning coal has been supported by some environmental groups but opposed by others (like Greenpeace and Environment Illinois).

Ironically, due to the repeated failure to pass a state capital spending bill before former Gov. Blagojevich's impeachment, Illinois has many projects that meet the "shovel-ready" requirements of the stimulus act

An informal coalition of organizations focused on workforce development and anti-poverty policy has been seeking to influence state ARRA spending related to job training. Among the goals of the coalition, which has been led by Chicago Jobs Council, Women Employed and the Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, is full transparency in spending, contracts, and program outcomes. The coalition is urging a transparency approach to ensure equity in training program investments by including career pathway training linked to quality jobs.

Last updated on: 14 October, 2009

Quick Facts

Population:
12,901,563

Median Household Income:
$54,124

Unemployment Rate:
10.0%

Poverty Rate:
11.9%

Estimated Recovery Act Funding:
$9.6 billion

Resources

In February, Voices of Illinois Children published The Federal Economic Recovery Plan and the State Fiscal Crisis; online here.

In June, Illinois PIRG in conjunction with Smart Growth America and the Gamaliel Foundation of Illinois released Illinois and the Stimulus: An Appraisal of Transportation Spending; online here.

In July, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported on their oversight activities; online here.

In August, Governor Quinn signed the Federal Stimulus Tracking Act (HB 571); online here.

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