An anti-violence program which led to hearings and subpoenas is now the focus of new legislation aimed at restricting grants handed out by governors in election years. The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, a program to combat violence championed by Gov. Pat Quinn ahead of the 2010 election, was criticized in a state audit for mismanagement, and labeled by Quinn’s opponents as a “political slush fund.”
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The Republican who co-chaired hearings on the NRI last year, State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington), is now proposing a way to prevent similar grant announcements in the future.
“The blackout period that we’re suggesting is a 60-day period of time that puts a prohibition on constitutional officers making certain announcements of new state programs and grants in those 60 days prior to an election,” Barickman said.
The bill would also put limits on rolling over unused state funds from year to year to use for grants, and make it easier to cut off grant recipients.
While Barickman considers NRI a “failed” program, criminal investigations didn’t result in any indictments. Barickman says that doesn’t mean there weren’t problems that legislators can now address.
“Regardless, the reason we’re here today is to finish the job and close the loop on what comes of this NRI audit,” Barickman said.