Sometimes, a smaller anecdote can illustrate a larger truth – that’s the case with three bills flying below the radar during a hectic pre-adjournment week.
First, Democrat lawmakers pushed a proposal to expand the “Urban Weatherization Program.” Last year, the Better Government Association found the 2009 program “in disarray,” with more than 80 percent of the program’s $16 million spent going to administrative and training costs – not weatherization projects. In the program’s five years of existence, only 183 homes have been upgraded, well short of a 1,000-home goal. On May 26, Democrat lawmakers voted to expand the program: raising the per-home expenditure by more than 50 percent and quadrupling the cap for grant recipients to $2 million per year.
Democrat lawmakers’ quick approval of an expansion of this program is in stark contrast to their inaction on two Republican reform bills: one sponsored by Sen. Karen McConnaughay to fix political hiring by former Gov. Quinn at the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), and another from Sen. Jason Barickman to address the scandal-plagued Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI). Both bills remain blocked by the Democrats in control of the Senate.