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Lawmakers Push For Financial Impact Data On All Proposed Legislation

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Illinois House Floor

House floor at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. (AP File Photo)

Mike Parker Mike Parker
Mike Parker has been a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Illinois state government might be teetering financially, but our lawmakers continue to spend billions of dollars by passing legislation they sometimes might not even understand.

Now, CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports, a group of both Republicans and Democrats want to change a system some call “insane.”

“We have to live within our means and make better spending decisions,” State Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) said.

Kotowski is one of a group of rebel lawmakers who think he and his colleagues should be forced to account for the money they vote to spend every time they approve a piece of legislation.

Last year, the General Assembly passed 650 different bills and spent more than $30 billion with those votes.

A watchdog group, the Illinois Policy Institute, said 640 of those bills had no detailed explanations attached about their real financial impact.

“Think about how crazy that is,” IPI Chief Executive Officer John Tillman said. “Nobody goes shopping and puts things into their grocery cart without looking at price and knowing whether or not they can afford it.”

In Minnesota, each proposed law has an attachment detailing the costs, savings, revenue gain or loss created, the financial impact over a number of years, and the financial impact on the state economy.

Illinois does not require financial impact statements for every piece of legislation. One piece of legislation, which amended an existing law, projected expense of $234,000, but provided no details of that projection.

“Is it over one year? Is it over five years? Is it over three years? We have no idea. What is that money going to?” Tillman said.

Kotowski said he thinks voters have become tired of the spending going on in Springfield.

“They’re fed up. Look, we’ve had decades in our state of waste, mismanagement, and fraud and corruption,” he said.

Last year, proposed legislation to require detailed fiscal information on every proposed bill was passed in committee and sent to the Senate floor, but it was never called for a vote.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said individual lawmakers already have the ability to ask questions about a measure’s fiscal impact.

“We are all doing due diligence to  understand the fiscal impact of legislation. It’s up to individual lawmakers to research these issues,” he said in a written statement.

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