Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is paying half of his staff’s salaries with money from other government departments, despite his criticism of the practice before taking office in January.
Other Illinois agencies are financing $4 million worth of Rauner’s staffers’ salaries, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.
State Democrats are raising concerns, but Rauner’s office says it has done nothing wrong.
“You can slice and dice the state payroll in multiple ways, but the two bottom lines are: all payroll is publicly reported and the Rauner administration is spending less on total agency-wide payroll than the previous administration,” Lance Trover, a spokesman for Rauner, a Republican, said in a statement.
The Rauner administration has previously defended the practice, known as off-shoring, and says that staffers are paid by the department they work with the most.
However, the administration reported in June during an Illinois House hearing that it off-shored only $3 million. Trover told the AP that the amount is less than appropriations made by former Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat.
Trover could not be reached for comment by FoxNews.com.
The AP found that the governor’s office has 90 employees earning $7.8 million collectively. They determined that $4 million off-shored dollars were financed by 18 other agencies, and that those workers weren’t listed on the governor’s office payroll. That leaves $3.8 million that is financed in-house; a sizeable portion of the $5 million budget for the office.
Among the agencies paying for Rauner staffers are the Illinois State Police, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Capital Development Board.
Rauner’s opponents say the maneuver comes at the expense of state services and understate Rauner’s actual costs. They also say the practice hurts government transparency and goes against the governor’s own views.
“This is one of the things that he complained about as a candidate,” said Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. “It’s easy enough for the governor to [instead] come in before the legislature and say ‘I’d like to increase the size of the appropriation in the governor’s office because I want to hire people that I think are qualified, and I’d like to pay them an appropriate salary.’ ”
The administration’s off-shoring first got attention in May, when it was reported that education advisor Beth Purvis’ $250,000 salary came from the Department of Human Services. Democrats didn’t take much objection to the amount, but said the main issue was the fact that human services was responsible for her pay. They said the department wouldn’t be able to use money for other primary goals such as child care and drug-abuse rehabilitation.
Concern over big consultant salaries, however, has gone up because the state hasn’t had an actual budget for two months. Many of out-of-office staffers are paid at least $145,000. Democrats are now reiterating that there is a serious concern over funding for basic social services.
Rauner’s administration said the matter was blown out of proportion, and that Democrats’ concerns were a political tactic to distract from their proposed tax increases.
Rauner is well known for his belief in slashing government spending and union busting. His proposed budget for 2015-2016 has been strongly scrutinized by the left, leaving him and Democrats in a political stalemate.
In January the AP found that Rauner’s top staff made 36 percent more than top officials working in Quinn’s office. It has also been discovered that Purvis’ salary is double what her predecessor made.
FoxNews.com’s Matt Fossen contributed to this report.