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home : news : state news free July 29, 2017

3/11/2017 12:55:00 PM
Official's pay removed from health fund

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office has filed paperwork to ensure a new deputy governor isn’t paid from an insurance fund that is $4 billion behind on medical payments. 

A letter from Rauner’s fiscal officer arrived at the state comptroller’s office Friday morning. It requests that a portion of Leslie Munger’s $138,000 salary come from a professional services fund. 

The letter, dated Thursday, was received more than two days after The Associated Press asked Rauner’s office to explain why the group health insurance fund was tabbed to finance half of Munger’s paycheck.  After the AP reported the arrangement, the governor’s office indicated it was a “clerical error” and would be corrected.

The account holds state employee premiums and is used to pay medical providers. It accounts for one-third of the state’s $12 billion pile of past-due bills.  

Rauner, who has made it a practice to pay gubernatorial staff from sources other than the governor’s budget, told reporters Friday that Munger will be paid “in an appropriate way.”

“There’s no fiscal shell game. What I’ve been told is there’s apparently some kind of accounting error,” Rauner said. “Let’s be clear: Errors in government, as much as we’re trying to eliminate them, they happen.”

Munger was hand-picked by Rauner in 2015 to fill a vacancy left by the sudden death of GOP Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. Munger was ousted in a special election last fall by Democrat Susana Mendoza. 

The letter from Rauner’s office requesting that half of Munger’s pay come from the group health insurance fund is dated Feb. 22. 

Rauner spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis said Friday that governor’s staff members discovered the error Tuesday — the same day the AP first asked about Munger’s pay arrangement.

“We were notified of the error in the deputy governor’s pay code on Tuesday night and immediately began corrective action Wednesday,” Demertzis said. 

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