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Illinois official's pay was tied to health care fund

By JOHN O'CONNOR Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration had arranged to pay a new deputy governor out of an employee health care account that is more than $4 billion behind on its bills due to the state's budget crisis, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

After the AP reported Thursday that half of Leslie Munger's $138,000 salary was scheduled to come from a pool of insurance premiums, a spokeswoman for the governor said an agency "mistakenly" designated the wrong fund and that Munger's pay would come from elsewhere.

Munger, Rauner's hand-picked choice to fill a vacancy in the comptroller's office in 2015, landed the position with her political ally after losing a special election.

Rauner's spokeswoman, Catherine Kelly, told the AP Wednesday that Munger had not yet been paid and that her salary would "not impact state employee health insurance payments or service providers." She declined to elaborate Wednesday, and the office didn't provide more details on Munger's salary until Thursday evening, after the AP published its story.

Munger did not return a message left by the AP at her office.

Rauner, a conservative businessman who ran on a platform of government transparency, has a history of paying employees who work for him from accounts not affiliated with the governor's office -- a practice known as "off-shoring." An analysis the AP conducted in August 2015 found that half of the $8 million payroll for 80 people answering to the governor was paid by agencies other than the chief executive's office.

Illinois has been slogging along without a budget since mid-2015, the nation's longest state budget drought since at least World War II.

More than a third of the state's $12.3 billion in past-due bills involve IOUs to medical providers for employee health care.

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