Lawmakers dial up technology at taxpayers' expense

By Kelsey Gibbs |

Published 04/22 2014 05:55PM

Updated 04/22 2014 06:12PM

ILLINOIS -- Lawmakers aren't using pen and paper to do the state's business. They got new tablets to help them do their jobs, but the price is creating quite a stir. WCIA-3's Kelsey Gibbs keeps us Connected to the Capitol and tells us how much the state has spent.

"It was definitely a waste of money."

Lawmakers are welcoming in the digital age with brand new mobile tablets.

"There's several advantages. One, of course, is this sort of instantaneous communication we have, so bills before a committee, amendments are file."

The tablets will allow legislators easy access to bills and amendments, but they come with a price.

"The tablets a piece were about $403. I think we spent a little under $37,000 for the 90 we bought."

A price which has some people like former educator Phillip Harris scratching his head.

"Kids that need the help aren't getting the help because there's no money, but then you hear about incidents like these where $403 are spent on tablets."

Steve Brown with Speaker Madigan's office says, in the end, the tablets are worth it.

"You do ultimately save on the cost of printing all these documents."

So far, the 90 tablets are to remain in the Capitol's two House committee rooms. Brown says with the new technology, lawmakers have more accessibility.

"In committee, you would see a bill get amendment. I will take opposition away or bring supports on all this now can be updated in real time."

But, taxpayers like Harris say the cost should not have come from their pockets.

"If they felt like they needed them that bad, they could have afforded them out of pocket themselves."

The tablets were purchased with money from the state's general revenue fund. House lawmakers started using them earlier this year.

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