Manar: State lease deals merit further scrutiny

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AWM05252017After lecturing a panel of lawmakers Thursday about why the cash-strapped state of Illinois should lease rather than buy property, a senior Rauner administration official revealed that plans are underway for the state to purchase another building in Springfield.

The revelation came as Senate Democrats attempted to get to the bottom of who and what prompted a series of expensive lease deals inked by the Rauner administration for warehouses in Springfield. Meanwhile, the Illinois Senate this week approved $3 billion in cuts to government spending to help balance the state’s budget and break the two-year budget stalemate.

“What I saw today was yet another example of the Rauner administration completely willing to lecture lawmakers about all the things that it finds wrong with state government but disinclined to follow its own advice,” said State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill).

“I appreciate the candor of the CMS director regarding our challenges when it comes to property management in the face of a budget crisis. But if the administration wants to make the case that state of Illinois shouldn’t be in the property management business, it might help the argument if it wasn’t out there drawing up paperwork to buy more property.”

Manar said he is concerned by the latest report about a third warehouse lease deal in Springfield, inked by the Rauner administration at time when the state has no budget and numerous state buildings in the city sit empty or underutilized.

Details have been murky about the lease contracts and the beneficiaries the lucrative deals.

“Over the years, there have been people in Springfield who have proven they are able to manipulate the process to land lucrative state contracts,” Manar said. “Is something fishy going on here? Maybe, maybe not. But I think lawmakers have an obligation to continue asking questions and make sure the taxpayers we represent are getting best possible deal.”

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