The Northwest Herald Editorial Board offers this week’s thumbs up and thumbs down:
Thumbs down: To the Obama administration for the numerous scandals that have become a major distraction for his second term. As if “Fast & Furious” and Benghazi-gate weren’t trouble enough, he now has to deal with a runaway IRS that was targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny and a Justice Department that, by secretly examining a couple of months worth of phone records of AP reporters, apparently thinks it’s exempt from First Amendment protections.
Thumbs up: To the Illinois Legislature for finally stripping large perks such as insurance benefits and pension benefits from transit board members. The bill was sponsored in separate chambers by state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, and state Sen. Dan Duffy, R-Lake Barrington. Hopefully, it will be signed by Gov. Pat Quinn. While a step in the right direction, the bill only scratches the surface of ludicrous patronage benefits for these kind of positions that require only occasional board meeting attendance. No one voted against the bill. If anything is that obvious, perhaps we should be looking for more examples of this kind of waste.
Thumbs down: To continued mismanagement of state funds. A report by Illinois Auditor General William Holland found that less than half of state road fund money spent in the past decade actually went toward construction costs. The money was instead spent on salaries for state police and secretary of state staff, and health insurance and workers’ compensation programs. Many Illinois roads and highways are in dire need of repair, and such projects provide needed jobs while improving public safety. Spending funds earmarked for road improvements should be a given, and this is just one more example of the fiscal irresponsibility practiced in Springfield.
Thumbs up: To Senate Bill 0494. There are nearly 7,000 units of government in Illinois, demonstrating wastefulness and inefficiency. SB 0494 allows for the elimination of 13 of those units in DuPage County. DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin pushed for the bill, which will save taxpayers in that county $100 million. Responsibilities of the eliminated units will be consolidated either with other bodies or DuPage County government. The bill, which has passed both chambers in Springfield, awaits Quinn’s signature.