(The Center Square) – Several Illinois Republicans are taking the Pritzker administration to task for the way numerous state agencies are performing.
With several missteps by officials at Illinois state agencies making headlines, the lawmakers are calling for changes.
The most recent instance reported by the Chicago Sun-Times involved an assistant at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency who quit after it was revealed that Illinois taxpayers paid over $240,000 for her salary in just seven months. Amy Gentry has recently been paid $156 an hour through a set of contracts earmarked for Illinois’ COVID-19 response.
The state official who approved paying Gentry and other contractors billing the IEMA is one of four staffers ousted earlier this year. All four were forced to step down for “misconduct” and “poor performance.”
The massive amount of money paid out to fraudsters by the Illinois Department of Employment Security, with estimates of over $5 billion, was highlighted during a Wednesday news conference. State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said the money lost to fraud could have been avoided.
“The audit in question specifically found that the governor’s administration ignored the specific guidance of the United States government on how to prevent things from happening,” Rose said.
Licensing delays by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation have been well documented. Illinois health care officials told a legislative committee in September that they are worried more health care workers will look for jobs in other states to avoid the lengthy licensing delays. Some have waited nearly a year for license approval.
State Sen. Sally Turner, R-Beason, said delays at the agency are causing heartaches for many Illinoisans.
“Right now, thousands of health care workers in this state are worried about their job security because of the long waiting period they face to get their licenses renewed,” Turner said.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services recently received its report card on how it has been doing the last two years and it was not satisfactory. The Auditor General cited 33 failures by the agency.
During a recent Joint Committee on Administrative Rules hearing, state Rep. Curtis Tarver, D-Chicago, said DCFS is a “national embarrassment.”
DCFS director Marc Smith, who was held in contempt of court over a dozen times for failing to place a child in an appropriate place, plans to step down at the end of the year.
“From gross delays in licensing for Illinoisans trying to get back to work, to rampant unemployment fraud, and continued persistent failings of our most vulnerable children, Illinois agencies are failing to perform,” said Illinois Senate Minority Leader John Curran, R-Downers Grove.
A request for comment from the governor’s office and the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus went unanswered.