SPRINGFIELD — State senator and Democratic nominee for state treasurer Mike Frerichs on Tuesday said if the right checks and balances were in place, he would support merging the offices of treasurer and comptroller.
“I think you can combine the offices if you have strong controls in place,” Frerichs, of Champaign, told reporters.
“If we can get those strong internal controls and checks and balances, then yes, I think we should take action to save money for the people of the state of Illinois,” he said.
Past corruption led to the creation of separate fiscal offices as part of the 1970 Illinois Constitution.
GOP treasurer nominee state Rep. Tom Cross of Oswego has said he supported combining the offices because he felt enough barriers to corruption have been put in place since the offices were separated. Current Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, a Riverside Republican, also has supported combining the offices.
In the past, Frerichs has, too. He supported a constitutional amendment to merge the two offices in 2011, when the Senate passed the measure 55-0. The House never voted on it, but Frerichs said he supported the amendment because he trusted Illinoisans to make the decision.
It was estimated at the time that combining the offices would save $12 million a year.
But during an appearance on a radio show earlier this month in Chicago, Frerichs seemed rein in that support when he was asked if the two offices should be combined.
“People have said to me, ‘Wouldn’t it just be a lot more efficient if we just had one financial officer?’ And I’ve said yes, we could become very efficient, efficient like the city of Dixon, Illinois, who just had one chief financial officer and she was able, from this small little town, over several years to take something like $52 million away from them,” Frerichs said.
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