* Years ago, Illinois had one person who acted as both state comptroller and treasurer. That person got busted embezzling funds, and so the Constitution was changed to split the office into two entities. Speaker Madigan has always pointed to that history as his reason to block a constitutional amendment to combine the two offices, which supporters say would save $12 million a year. Madigan now has a new reason…
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman [yesterday] defended his opposition to a plan that would merge the Illinois comptroller and treasurer’s offices, by pointing at Dixon—the small northern Illinois town where the single fiscal officer now stands accused of embezzling some $53 million.
“If that doesn’t give them pause, I don’t know what will,” spokesman Steve Brown said of proponents who want to merge the two state offices. […]
Such a change would require a state constitutional amendment. But the Madigan-controlled committee process has kept the measure bottled up, against fervent Republican pressure to let it out for a vote.
“It’s simply tyranny,” the sponsor, Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-Addison, said in angry floor debate [yesterday].
Madigan and other opponents say there’s no proof the merger would save money. More than that, they say, having separate offices for collecting, investing and dispersing state money ensures checks and balances, reducing the likelihood of fiscal shenanigans by any one office or officeholder.
* Meanwhile, from Illinois Statehouse News…
A bill requiring local governments to post financial information could help to expose and prevent fraud, supporters of the measure say.
The Illinois Policy Institute, state Sen. Dan Duffy, R-Lake Barrington, and other lawmakers are pushing Senate Bill 3392, which would require local governments to post their budgets, audits and expenditures. The institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank that supports free markets.
The proposal comes after federal charges were filed against Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell, who is accused of taking $53 million from taxpayers.
The Illinois Policy Institute looked at 130 local governments, and measured them based on transparency.
“After seeing how little public information is available on Dixon’s website, it’s no surprise that the alleged theft went under the radar for so long,” said Brian Costin, director of government reform for the institute.
Crundwell became comptroller of Dixon, a town of about 16,000 people, in 1983. Some seven years later, court documents said, Dixon began funneling city funds into personal bank accounts, using the money to buy a horse farm, several cars and a $2.1 million motor home.