Online Staff Report
Both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly convened Jan. 8 to pass House Bill 4576, legislation creating a special election in 2016 for the office of comptroller.
“Our state has major issues to overcome, and we should all be ready to come back to Springfield at any time to work on solutions,” said State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford. “But, instead of dealing with our financial challenges, including the repercussions of a dishonest and unbalanced state budget, or working on bipartisan solutions to move our state forward, we were called to the Capitol for nothing more than a political power move.
“There is only one reason that Democrat leadership rushed this legislation through a lame-duck General Assembly, and that’s because they think they have a better chance of electing a Comptroller from their own party in 2016,” Syverson added. “It is truly shameful that the leaders of one party would attempt to take political advantage of the recent and tragic death of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.”
Syverson also noted the expense of both the special session and the potential for lawsuits over its passage.
“Unfortunately, this special session cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars and the litigation that will surely follow will cost significantly more,” Syverson said. “This is the last of a series of partisan and expensive actions by Gov. Quinn before he leaves office on Monday.”
Meantime, State Sen. Steve Stadelman, D-Loves Park, joined with other legislators in passing the legislation, which will allow voters to decide who will fill an unexpected vacancy in statewide positions. Currently, openings are filled by an appointment by the sitting governor, with no say from voters.
“Voters in Illinois should have a say in who is representing them in Springfield,” Stadelman said. “We need to allow the people, not politicians, to go to the polls to decide who is best for the job.”
As a result of the unexpected passing of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, an emergency appointment was made to allow the duties of the office to be completed. Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner (R) plans to appoint Leslie Munger to the position when he is sworn in next week. The legislation passed Jan. 8 would allow Munger to be appointed to a two-year term beginning immediately, and give the voters a chance to decide the next state comptroller during the general election in 2016. Normally, the comptroller would not be voted on until 2018, giving Munger a four-year term with no voter input.
Other state lawmakers have also proposed a constitutional amendment to merge the offices of state comptroller and treasurer to save taxpayer money. Stadelman supports this measure.
“For now, we must focus on allowing the voices of the voters to be heard,” Stadelman said. “When the Senate reconvenes next week, merging the two offices and saving taxpayer money will be one of my top priorities.”
Posted Jan. 8, 2015