Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger made headlines this past weekend after a video was posted of her incorrectly answering some basic multiplication questions put to her by Chicago Tribune reporter Kim Janssen at the Illinois State Fair. Although the gaffe garnered a lot of media attention, the reality is Illinois families aren’t impacted by how fast the Comptroller can multiply 8×7. They are impacted by the misplaced payment priorities of Comptroller Munger’s office and the Rauner administration, as they continue to prioritize payments to Wall Street banks like JPMorgan Chase while failing to pay social service providers who provide life-saving services to families across Illinois.
A few weeks ago Comptroller Munger took to Facebook to defend her choices in prioritizing state payments to Wall Street banks. Comptroller Munger said, “ I have paid no “Wall Street banks” unless it was for services authorized under their [President Cullerton and Speaker Madigan’s] legislation.” She went on to say, “I have, however, spent my entire 18 months in office working very hard to help make sure that state payments to those organizations in our state who serve our most vulnerable — seniors, developmentally disabled, children, homeless, domestic violence victims, etc — are prioritized…”.
But here’s the thing, like her failed attempt at on-the-fly arithmetic, Munger’s statement just doesn’t add up.
According to the state’s own records, Comptroller Munger paid out $92 Million in fees to banks like JPMorgan Chase, in just 12 of her 18 months in office (FY’15). During that same time Munger didn’t pay many social service providers, close to a hundred of which are now suing the state for non-payment. Paying JPMorgan Chase over social service providers adds up to prioritizing Wall Street banks over the vulnerable Illinois residents these providers serve.
And it looks like this trend could get much worse. If the Rauner Administration has its way, the Comptroller will pay out nearly $1 Billion in additional taxpayer dollars to Wall Street banks. Meanwhile, social service providers continue to wait in line to be paid for contracted services provided more than 1 year ago. This set of priorities is leading to irreversible damage to our state’s infrastructure – with agencies cutting programs, laying off talented, experienced staff and shutting their doors. Instead of an unnecessary and early payout to Wall Street banks, the nearly $1 Billion dollars could fund child care care services for 143,000 children, MAP grants for 312,000 low-income college students, and home care services for 83,000 seniors and people with disabilities.
Math doesn’t lie. Comptroller Leslie Munger & the Rauner Administration should put Illinois families first and banks last, by prioritizing payments to community social service providers instead of readying her pen to cut another big check to Wall Street banks.