I have to admit that a month ago I didn’t know much about Adam Andrzejewski other than he unsuccessfully ran for the Republican gubernatorial nomination here in Illinois earlier this year.
After hearing him speak in Ottawa last week, however, I find myself intrigued by an idea he is championing: a forensic audit of all state spending. An in-depth examination of how our tax dollars are being spent, he argues, would result in greater transparency in government spending, clamp down on political corruption and, perhaps most importantly, save millions of dollars by cutting wasteful spending.
Would a forensic audit really do those things? I’m not sure, but I’m still intrigued by the idea.
There are some skeptics who doubt a forensic audit would be worth the investment, since it likely would be costly to track down every dollar that was spent by Illinois politicians in a single budget year, let alone multiple years. And for the sake of argument, let’s say a forensic audit finds several million dollars of wasteful spending that can be cut – but the forensic audit costs several million dollars to carry out. Is the audit still worthwhile?
I’d say yes, since the audit presumably would be necessary only once, but the savings would be repeated on an annual basis. That would make the savings more than the expenditure.
Numerous House Republicans – and two Democrats – agree. They are championing House Resolution 1057, which calls for a forensic audit of all state spending.
Not surprisingly, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), whose top priority often seems to be keeping himself in power, has said a forensic audit is unnecessary and cost prohibitive. So far he has refused to let the bill be put to a vote on the House floor – which actually may be the strongest indicator that a forensic audit may be in order.
In any case, Andrzejewski – now the president of For The Good of Illinois, an Elmhurst-based, nonprofit organization that wants limited and accountable government – may have found his true political calling after losing the GOP gubernatorial primary in February.
“I want to be an example that you can lose an election, but your ideas can win,” Andrzejewski said in Ottawa last week.
A forensic audit certainly wouldn’t be the only solution to all that financially ails Illinois, but it might be part of a bigger one.
At the very least, it wouldn’t hurt for our elected officials to look a little further into the idea, rather than dismiss it out of hand – especially when it has the endorsement of a group such as the Better Government Association.
Perhaps a forensic audit wouldn’t be cost-effective, and if that’s the case, then it may not be something that needs to be done. After all, the last thing the forensic audit needs to become is more wasteful spending.
But we may never get the chance to find out if certain powerful lawmakers continue to block mere discussion of the issue on the House floor.
This column was originally published in the May 6 issue of Ottawa Delivered.