Legislation that would improve oversight, transparency, accountability and ethical standards for those who serve on the RTA, CTA, PACE and METRA boards received a unanimous approval Thursday in the Illinois House.
In response to ongoing allegations of impropriety at METRA and the other transit agencies over the last few years, members of the House Mass Transit Committee began looking at creating a package of reforms to improve oversight and transparency related to how the boards conduct business. "This is an example of good, bipartisan lawmaking that benefits all Illinoisans,” said Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove), a co-sponsor of the bill. “With the passage of this important bill, we will have an opportunity for better oversight between the RTA and the service boards that preside over the public transit systems for Chicago and the suburbs. The end result should be more sunshine on the process and better service for public transit customers and for the taxpayers of Illinois.”
According to the provisions of the bill, SB3056:
- Creates a website containing RTA and service board financial and safety related information with minor changes to be consistent with the RTA and CTA Act.
- Provides revolving door reform by prohibiting directors, members, former directors and former members from doing business, accepting employment, receiving compensation or fees from the RTA and service boards during their term and for a period of 1 year following their term.
- Requires that CTA, PACE and METRA provide RTA with real time read only access to financial information systems, documents, papers and records, including audits and reports that may be requested by the RTA.
- Provides the RTA board must review any bonus for any employee, officer or agent of RTA, CTA, PACE and Metra in excess of 10% of annual salary. Does not apply to salary changes.
- Provides that CTA, PACE and METRA must obtain approval from the RTA board for severance agreements in excess of $50,000 or an employment-related settlement agreement in excess of $200,000.
- Provides that CTA, PACE and Metra must submit employment contracts in excess of $100,000 to the RTA for review. Provides that RTA must submit employment contracts in excess of $100,000 to the House Mass Transit Committee and to the Senate Transportation Committee.
“I was pleased to hear the bill’s primary sponsor say there was additional work to be done, and I’m looking forward to working with him toward that end,” said Sandack. “The passage of this bill was a good first step, but there is certainly room for additional improvements and reforms to maximize the efficiency of these service boards.”
SB3056 now moves back to the Senate for concurrence.