Last fiscal year, Illinois authorized a record $135 million in emergency no-bid contracts. The state typically accepts bids for contracts so taxpayers get the best deal. No-bid purchases are reserved for sudden, unexpected needs. State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo), chairman of the House State Government Administration Committee, says that recent transactions don’t meet that criteria, such as the Illinois Department of Corrections’ $15,000 purchase of hot dog seasoning after the prior contract had been allowed to expire.
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“It could be funny to some, but I find absolutely objectionable,” Franks said. “It just shows that the governor has no ability to manage.” The amount of $135 million represents a 33 percent jump over the previous fiscal year, and a 300 percent increase from the last year Rod Blagojevich was governor. Franks says that’s not a troubling comparison for Gov. Pat Quinn, as Blagojevich awarded campaign donors with millions in no-bid contracts. “There’s no allegation that that’s occurred with this governor, but frankly, I don’t know if anyone’s checked yet,” Franks said. The governor’s office claims many of these purchases were simply renewals of earlier deals.