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Commission approves audit of emergency management agency shakeup


(The Center Square) – The Illinois Legislative Audit Commission is looking to get to the bottom of a recent shakeup at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency that stems from overbilling taxpayers to the tune of nearly a quarter million dollars.

In October, the Chicago Sun-Times revealed an assistant to Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau quit after it was revealed that state taxpayers paid over $240,000 for her salary in just seven months, double the salary for Tate-Nadeau.

State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said the Pritzker administration hasn’t been transparent about the situation.

“You then had several employees who were terminated in the wake of it and then no questions answered so it just got red flags all over it,” Rose told The Center Square.

Monday, the bipartisan LAC approved Rose’s resolution for an audit of the situation he said is important for taxpayers.

“This kind of alleged act could occur anywhere and it’s important when it does that we look into it and find out exactly what’s going on and if taxpayers are owed that money back, we need to get them that money back,” Rose said.

It’s unclear how long such an audit will take. The Office of the Illinois Auditor General is tasked with auditing all state government agencies on a two year cycle, along with any other audits directed by the LAC.

In the House Monday, Senate Bill 3434 cleared its final hurdle before being sent to the governor’s desk. After Republican criticism of the bill when it passed the Senate, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office put out a statement that the measure brings uniformity with rule making across the agency’s grants.

House sponsor, state Rep. Maurice West, D-Rockford, said the measure recognizes the Office of Homeland Security is part of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

“This bill ensures … that their rules and the language that is needed for both agencies as merged into one. It has nothing to do with what happened in the past, which I understand,” West said.

State Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, was critical of the measure. He said it chips away authority the Legislature has in helping craft rules.

“We all saw firsthand how giving up too much control can create problems for the state of Illinois, we saw in the pandemic, let’s not head down the same road again,” Spain said during floor debate.

For the coming fiscal year that begins July 1, Pritzker proposed giving IEMA and OHS a total of $2.2 billion from all funds.

Rose said he doesn’t see any correlation between SB3434 and the need for an audit of the overbilling at IEMA.

“I think that criticism of Senate Bill 3434 is simply it’s just more overreach in terms of power grab from the governor’s office trying to make sure they’re all supreme in the next time around, which hopefully doesn’t happen in anyone’s lifetime,” Rose said.

The problem from the shakeup and overbilling at IEMA that Rose’s audit is focused on is a “financial billing issue that could happen at any agency.”

“It’s a lack of oversight that already exists within the existing framework so giving the governor more emergency rulemaking authority doesn’t really address the existing framework,” Rose said.