Less than half of the money in Illinois' Road Fund actually pays for highway construction and maintenance. That's the finding in a new audit that also says the Road Fund overpaid for employee health insurance.
The Road Fund aggregates billions of dollars every year to build and repair highways, but a new report from Illinois' auditor general says more than half the money is going for employee salaries and benefits, as well as paying off bonds.
The audit found several problems with how the Road Fund kept track of spending for employee health insurance.
One state employee was responsible for calculating those expenses. When the auditors asked several government agencies how they arrived at insurance cost figures — they couldn't answer. And the employee in question? No longer with state government.
Auditor General Bill Holland says he's OK with empowering employees to make decisions — within limits.
"In this case, what you had was nobody who could say how we empowered them, or why we empowered them, or 'Yes, these are the parameters we gave them to work under.' And I think that's problematic." - Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland
One such problem? The Road Fund used to cover the salaries of State Police and some personnel in the Secretary of State's office. That was changed in law, but the Road Fund kept paying for health insurance for those workers for two years — a diversion of more than $150 million.
Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey contributed to this report.