There no longer is any such position as an Illinois Department of Transportation "staff assistant," Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Monday.

An inspector general's report in 2014 found that previous administrations hired people into that role, which allowed them to skirt state hiring rules.

Then the workers often were moved into other jobs that would have been subject to merit testing. It was a way get people with clout on the state payroll.

Rauner says the inspector general is still looking for patronage hires in other departments.


Gov. Bruce Rauner has laid off 29 Illinois Department of Transportation employees who were among those improperly hired based on political connections.

The Republican said Thursday he issued notices to the so-called ``staff assistants'' hired by skirting personnel rules under two previous Democratic governors. They were told their last day is Sept. 15.  

Hundreds of people were hired into the position starting in 2003. The state's inspector general found in 2014 that the politically connected hires should have been put into their positions based on merit.  

The Illinois Department of Transportation has begun informing contractors that all IDOT projects will begin shutting down starting June 30 if no state budget agreement is reached.

A statement attributed to IDOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn says the move is "due to the majority party in the legislature’s failure to pass a balanced budget."

Illinois Road Projects On Hold For State Budget

Jun 9, 2016
"End Construction" by Flickr User Chris Lasher / (CC X 2.0)

The Illinois Department of Transportation plans to spend about 2 billion dollars on road projects for the next fiscal year that starts July 1 -- if there's a budget.

The lack of a deal could kill the construction season. 

That's what business leaders, contractors, laborers and other members of the Transportation for Illinois Coalition say.

Co-chair Todd Maisch, who's also CEO of the state Chamber of Commerce, says no spending on roads this summer would cause construction firms to close, or lay off workers.

Amanda Vinicky / Illinois Public Radio

The llinois Department of Transportation may be wrapping up its busy construction season, but the upcoming winter will mean more repairs for road crews to work on next summer. But that depends on getting a state budget in place first.

A lot of money for road construction comes from a separate fund than what's being debated in Springfield right now in the months-long budget stalemate. But some money comes from the same pot of cash that many human services and other state programs are vying for.