(The Center Square) – Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza hopes to show residents what taxpayer-funded programs work best, but a critic of state spending says there are none.
Off to the side at last week’s Illinois State Fair, Mendoza said the comptroller is in a unique position to see where every tax dollar goes. She said she’s working on a system to show taxpayers and policymakers how the return on investment various taxpayer-funded programs offer.
“I’d like to be able to tell the story to taxpayers as to how their money is working for them, or perhaps not working for them, and that should be the way that we invest taxpayer dollars moving forward,” Mendoza said.
At her existing website, taxpayers can view state employee salaries, dig through the balances of hundreds of special funds and see the status of the state’s backlog of bills. Mendoza wants to update it with a system to show the return on investment for taxpayers.
“I think that it will be critical in making the comptroller a real player in crafting or influencing policy that is forward-thinking, that provides a good investment for taxpayers, and that makes taxpayers a little more comfortable on where their tax dollars are going,” she said.
OpenTheBooks.com Founder Adam Andrzejewski hasn’t seen the system Mendoza said she’s hoping to implement. But, he said billions of dollars are wasted by all levels of government.
“Do you think there’s one single program at any level in the state of Illinois that’s actually running well?” Andrzejewski said.
He suggested the best way to give taxpayers bang for their buck is to refund tax money.
“The most effective government program that Gov. J.B. Pritzker can do is to return taxpayer dollars to taxpayers,” he said. “We know how to spend our own money. Nobody trusts this government to spend our money.”
Despite recently getting credit upgrades from two bond ratings agencies, Illinois’ bonds are among the worst rated in the nation. Moody’s Investors Service pegs Illinois’ unfunded pension liability at $317 billion.