All severance agreements involving government employees will now be subject to public scrutiny and investigation after Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation sponsored by State Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry) into law today.
“House Bill 303 strengthens current law by closing a loophole that has allowed parties to keep certain severance settlements confidential,” said Sen. Althoff. “Under this new law, all settlement agreements will be subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and public review.”
In 2013, Sen. Althoff and Rep. Renée Kosel (R-New Lenox) started the discussion by introducing legislation that would increase transparency in the severance negotiations process. House Bill 303 is a similar proposal that gained more momentum after a lucrative severance package was awarded to the College of DuPage President Robert Breuder earlier this year, said Sen. Althoff. A closed meeting held by college trustees resulted in a $763,000 settlement for Breuder with little to no public review.
“Increasing transparency and restoring public trust in Illinois government have been my top priorities since day one and I am proud to have sponsored this new law with Rep. Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) that will achieve those goals,” said Sen. Althoff.
A severance agreement is defined as “a mutual agreement between any public body and its employee for the employee’s resignation in exchange for payment by the public body.”
Supported by the Better Government Association (BGA) and Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois (ABDI), House Bill 303 applies to all public bodies which include legislative, executive, administrative or advisory bodies of the state. It also applies to public universities, colleges, townships, cities and municipal units of government.