What is the importance of the Illinois Comptroller to your constituents in Champaign County?
Do you get a personal income tax refund from the state? If you receive a check from the state of Illinois, you may recognize my name on them. My job as Comptroller is to make payments from the state’s coffers that have been authorized by the legislature. During this period of financial hardship, I am committed to prioritizing payments to those of you in Champaign County who need it the most. Funding for nursing homes, mental health facilities, public education, and other necessary services will always be my top priority.
Why are you qualified to be the Illinois Comptroller?
I am a tested and proven executive manager and former lawmaker. During my time as Comptroller, I’ve navigated Illinois through the worst fiscal crisis in its history, and shined a light on the destruction the 736 day budget impasse inflicted on families, businesses, and our state’s finances. I have championed fiscal responsibility and transparency with the aim of getting our state on sound fiscal footing, by passing historic transparency bills including the Debt Transparency Act and the Truth in Hiring Act. I’ll never stop fighting for transparency because taxpayers deserve to know how their tax dollars are being spent. Furthermore, I have led by example and worked hard to cut spending - submitting the lowest budget request for the Comptroller’s Office in 20 years. And I led the charge on refinancing a large portion of the state’s $16.7 billion backlog of bills from an outrageous 12% interest rate to a low 3.5% rate, saving taxpayers billions and slashing the backlog of unpaid bills down to $8 billion.
What is a key policy difference between you and your Opponent[s]?
I am passionate about financial transparency in government. That is why I created the historic Debt Transparency Act (DTA) requiring state agencies to file monthly, rather than yearly reports on unpaid bills. The DTA ensures that as the state’s chief fiscal officer, the Comptroller can view accurate financial data and in turn, can share that data with the rest of the state government and the taxpayers. My opponent - as Governor Rauner’s legislative director - actively lobbied legislators to vote against the DTA. The General Assembly voted against her and the Governor, and passed the bill, which the Governor vetoed. Then my opponent lobbied legislators -- again unsuccessfully -- to uphold the Governor’s anti-transparency veto. The House historically overrode his veto unanimously (a first in General Assembly history). I have consistently stood on the side of fiscal transparency during a time when the state needed it the most. My opponent opposed the largest transparency reform in the history of the very office she seeks to occupy, and that alone should disqualify her from leading it.
Is there anything else you would like to say to an undecided voter in Champaign County?
As Comptroller, I've had an up close and personal view of the devastation the 736 day budget impasse had on families, businesses and the state's finances. But managing a bill backlog that peaked at $16.7 billion is not just about managing numbers. It’s truly about helping real people who are owed billions for services already rendered, who were turned into unwilling lenders to a deadbeat state. Among those people was a dentist in Champaign who had not received payments from the state in nearly two years. He was distraught, fearing that he was on the verge of losing everything he had worked for over a 25 year successfully run dental practice. I visited him to pledge my assistance and was proud to work with him, as I have with other Champaign County businesses and social service agencies, to help him survive through the terrible budget crisis and keep his doors open.