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Rep. Hammond explains goals for budget oversight commission

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Springfield, IL - Twenty-two Illinois state lawmakers will serve on a commission to oversee Gov. JB Pritzker's decisions on how budgetary funds and federal relief dollars will be used during the COVID-19 pandemic. Think of this commission as having a second pair of eyes on the state's bank account. This will be a group of people making sure the state doesn't spend or borrow too much money.

The commission of 14 Democrats and eight Republicans will monitor the governor's spending on state essential services and COVID-19 relief. Members will receive their first monthly report from the Office of Management and Budget on August 15.

Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) says they'll also receive a quarterly report from Pritzker detailing year-to-date revenues and expenditures. While Republicans didn't approve this budget, they're glad to have the opportunity to discuss the spending and distribution of funds with their colleagues.

"We're looking for a partnership here where we are all looking at the details, having input and working together to be sure that we're doing the best that we can and the most that we can, getting the most bang out of our buck," Hammond said.

A close eye on federal funding

She feels taxpayers deserve transparency and accountability with any financial decisions made. Hammond also notes the state must adhere to specific guidelines set for CARES Act funding from the federal government.

"At the end of the day, we don't want to be on the hook for having to pay these dollars back because they were spent inappropriately," Hammond said. Municipalities have to report the amount of federal assistance they receive and how it is distributed throughout the community. The commission will then share this information with the governor's office and their colleagues in the General Assembly.

However, there's still a big question mark around the amount of federal assistance Illinois will receive through the CARES Act. Hammond says lawmakers may have to reconvene if they can't fill the hole in the budget. "We'd have to work with the administration and see what dollars we have and where they could be spent most appropriately."

Mike Miletich

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