The issue: Eliminate the office of lieutenant governor in the state of Illinois.
The background: The office has no constitutional duties other than to be ready to step in if something happens to the governor. Proposals to eliminate the office have been around for decades.
What we’ve supported: We think the office is unnecessary and should be eliminated, saving taxpayers about $1.6 million a year.
What’s new: It looked as if the General Assembly was finally going to take an axe to the “lite guv’s” office. Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, introduced legislation to allow voters to have the final say on whether Illinois should continue to have a lieutenant governor. McSweeney’s measure passed in the Illinois House by a vote of 95-10.
However, things got sticky in the Illinois Senate. State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, wanted to amend the legislation to change the line of succession so that the governor’s replacement would be someone from his own party. McSweeney’s bill had the attorney general taking over if anything ever happened to the governor, currently Republican Bruce Rauner. Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, is the attorney general.
Just introducing the amendment basically killed the idea. There wouldn’t have been enough time, unless lawmakers were called into special session, for both chambers to approve the amended legislation.
How they voted: Reps. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, and Brian Stewart, R-Freeport, voted yes to McSweeney’s bill. Rep. Litesa Wallace, D-Rockford, voted no. State Sen. Dave Syverson voted yes in committee on Brady’s amendment.
Quote: “I support the positive intentions of saving taxpayers’ money and eliminating redundancies, but not having a well-thought-out line of succession is too problematic to ignore. We need to be sure we aren’t moving forward with a process where a person is next in line to become governor, if he or she has a completely different approach to governing — an approach that was not supported by the voters.” — Brady.
Our conclusion: Whether it’s eliminating the office of lieutenant governor, merging the financial offices of comptroller and treasurer or trying something else to streamline Illinois government, lawmakers always seem to find an excuse not to downsize. These proposals have been around for years and have passed in one chamber or the other, yet they never receive final approval. Lawmakers love to talk about making government more efficient, but in the end, it’s only talk.