For nearly two years, the state of Illinois has been without a full operating budget due to political gridlock in Springfield. Nearly every sector of the state government has been affected, from education to the lottery. Now, it looks like one of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s key initiatives is being curtailed.
Rauner has long pushed to bring Illinois’ technology into the 21st century and wants to upgrade the state’s legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) system–to the tune of $250 million. The cash is supposed to help finance, human resources, and other administrative systems in the government by adopting a single IT platform.
State Comptroller Susana Mendoza, a Democrat, has suspended $27 million in payments–including $21.6 million owed to consultants–citing concerns over how the program will produce long-term savings for the state, as well as how Illinois should prioritize paying back its creditors. According to state officials, Illinois faces a growing pile of unpaid bills, currently clocking in at $12.3 billion.
In a letter to Rauner, the comptroller’s office raised concerns as to why consultants were being paid ahead of state services that are also owed money, such as assisted living homes and hospices.
“The comptroller wants assurances that resources are being allocated toward our most critical needs and not toward discretionary initiatives,” wrote Patrick Corcoran, Mendoza’s senior policy adviser.
Rauner’s office disagrees with Mendoza’s tactics and warns the interruption to the ERP implementation could hurt state services.
“If Comptroller Mendoza disrupts the ERP implementation process, she will put our state, residents and sensitive data at risk by forcing us to function under the current outdated systems,” said Rauner’s spokeswoman, Catherine Kelly, in a statement to Reuters, which first obtained the letter.
According to Kelly, of the $250 million estimated budget, vendors have billed $63 million over the past three fiscal years. The state has already paid out $12.6 million.