Illinois doesn’t need two financial offices, one to write the checks and one to invest the money. The state would be better off if the offices of comptroller and treasurer were combined, which would save taxpayers about $12 million a year.
Alas, Illinoisans are stuck with the two offices even though almost everyone in the state thinks they should be merged. One of the few people who doesn’t is Speaker of the House Mike Madigan, who has not allowed legislation to merge the offices to advance in his chamber.
So, like it or not, a new treasurer will be voted into office Nov. 4. Incumbent Dan Rutherford is not running for re-election. He made an unsuccessful run for governor in the Republican primary.
Mike Frerichs, a state senator from Champaign, is our choice.
Before he became a senator, Frerichs had been a county board member and a county auditor. As county auditor, he became a certified public finance officer, an important credential for an office such as treasurer.
Frerichs wants to invest in Illinois. He will seek the best return on investments for state residents, but he also would like to make money available to help entrepreneurs and farmers. He points out that 27 percent of Illinois jobs are related to farming. He recognizes the high cost of sending our children to college and is committed to improving the Bright Start College Savings program.
And he wants to be treasurer. If the offices were to be combined, he would like to be in charge of the new agency.
His main opponent, Republican Tom Cross, doesn’t seem to think the treasurer has enough to do.
Cross, a lawyer from Oswego, was elected a state representative in 1992. He was the Republican leader of the House for 11 years. He resigned from his leadership post to run for treasurer.