comptroller

Even though a state budget was finally passed earlier this summer - the process for payment is not automatic. Social service agencies are waiting on money owed to them by the state.

It’s been 1 year, 5 months and 9 days since Illinois government had a full, regular budget. Legislative leaders continue painting their counterparts in the other party as the main obstacle. Meanwhile rank-and-file legislators have gone without pay since June, and now a group of Democrats are suing, saying it’s an attempt to coerce them into going along with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s agenda.

Amanda Vinicky

There wasn't supposed to be an election for a statewide constitutional officer this year, but Democrats essentially foisted one, following the sudden death of Republican Judy Baar Topinka. That's led to an expensive, competitive race for comptroller this year --- a race that could show who's winning the war of public opinion in Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan's battle for Illinois' future.

Who knows what would have happened had Democrats held onto the governor's office in 2014?

Sen. Mark Kirk and U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth participated in their first televised presidential debate this week. Kirk made a comment about his opponent's ethnic heritage for which he later felt compelled to apologize. We'll ask Charlie Wheeler why voters should care about the special election for Illinois comptroller. And Sen. Dick Durbin might mean it when he says he isn't interested in taking on Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018.

Amanda Vinicky

With Illinois finances stretched thin, the role of Illinois Comptroller has taken on an elevated importance. There haven't been many chances for voters to compare the candidates vying for the job face-to-face, but the top candidates squared off Tuesday night in an interview on Chicago's WTTW-TV.

The comptroller is in charge of cutting the state's checks.

That's more complicated than it may sound. After all, Illinois doesn't have enough money to actually PAY all of its bills.

Anxious legislators will once again see a deposit from the state of Illinois in their bank accounts. They’re getting paid Tuesday for the first time since July, when their April paychecks came through.

The candidates vying to be Illinois comptroller are at odds over whether the office should even continue to exist.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois legislators should expect a delay in their paychecks.

Comptroller Leslie Munger announced Sunday that elected officials' pay will wait in line, just like other bills.

Vendors and agencies that perform work for the state are waiting months to be paid. Until now, officials' paychecks were essentially given preferential treatment.

With a handful of Constitutional officers and 177 state legislators, the paychecks collectively total $1.3 million a month, or $15.6 for the year.

ILGA.gov

The race for Illinois comptroller has narrowed: There will no longer be a Democratic primary. State Sen.Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, has confirmed he will not run.

You could say the Democratic primary race for comptroller is over before it ever began; only today can candidates begin filing paperwork to run.

It's fast approaching the time that the governor and Illinois lawmakers would typically begin planning for next year's budget, even though they've yet to settle on one for this year. Two-year budgets are standard practice for some states.

Leslie Munger at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois won't make its next pension payment; Comptroller Leslie Munger Wednesday announced she can't, because the state doesn't have the cash.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois' governor and legislative leaders haven't talked to each other in months, and the state continues to spend money without a budget.  Just how long can this continue?  Lee Enterprises' Springfield Bureau Chief Kurt Erickson joins the panel.

Wikimedia Commons

Families with babies, from birth until they're three years old, are eligible for state assistance to help their children learn and grow. It's called early intervention. But without a budget, Illinois stopped paying the therapists who provide these services. Now, the comptroller and the governor's administration says they've come up with a way to pay again, even though Illinois still has no budget in place.

When Tamiko Schaefer's baby Daniel was about six months old, she started noticing something.

  Suspended payments for early intervention services will resume, even though Illinois still has no budget. 

Early intervention is just that -- therapists intervening in disabled children's lives when they're infants or toddlers.

Chicagoan Naomi Shapiro's 8-month old has a genetic disorder.

"He received physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, hearing therapy and soon he'll start developmental therapy," she says.

Therapy she says has little Leor Braun smiling, and responding to his own name.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' high court has been asked to decide once and for all whether Illinois can pay government workers when there's no state budget.

Illinois Comptroller website

Despite uncertainty bred from dueling court rulings ... Illinois' Comptroller is issuing paychecks to state employees.  It's a continued issue, as Illinois has been without a spending plan since the start of the month.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan heatshot
flickr.com/jrockefelleriv

A Cook County judge has ruled Illinois may not continue to pay
state workers in full during an ongoing budget impasse.
 
 Judge Diane Joan Larsen ruled Tuesday that Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger
may pay only some workers who are covered under a federal law. Those workers
would receive federal minimum wage plus overtime.
 
 But attorneys for Munger say it would take the state as long as a year to
determine which employees would be paid under federal law and how much.

Comptroller website

A special election next year for the office of Illinois comptroller is almost surely on the horizon. Democratic members of the Illinois General Assembly hurried Thurs., Jan 8 to pass a measure setting it up.

It goes back to last month, when Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka suddenly died. She was about to begin a new, four-year term.

Topinka, it's worth noting, was a Republican. As is Illinois' next governor, Bruce Rauner, who is to be sworn in Monday.

Amanda Vinicky

  Legislators are back at the capitol, where they have begun debating the prospect of a special election for comptroller in 2016. The Illinois Senate passed the measure this afternoon, Thurs. Jan 8, on a partisan vote, and now it's on to the House.

It became an issue after Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka suddenly died, ahead of beginning a new four-year term.

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie say voters should have the opportunity to choose someone, rather than letting an appointee hold the post for such a long time.

Munger '14 Campaign Website http://votemunger.com/about-leslie/

Chances the state will hold a special election for comptroller in 20-16 have improved, now that the Illinois House Speaker has signaled his support. Lawmakers will be back in Springfield for special session Thurs., Jan 8 to vote on it.

Speaker Michael Madigan's spokesman, Steve Brown, says Madigan will support giving voters a say, instead of allowing an appointee to take over long-term. Brown had previously only said that Madigan believed the future of the comptroller's office was a matter to be settled by the executive branch.

Comptroller website

 A measure has been filed that would prompt a special election in 2016 for Illinois Comptroller. The vacancy created in the office following the death of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka in December exposed what some say is a weak spot in Illinois Constitution, as Topinka was set to begin a new, four-year term. The legislation would put in place a new method that would limit the length of gubernatorial appointments to fill such openings.

ilga.gov

Legislators will be back in Springfield Thursday for a special session. They're set to debate holding a special election for the office of Comptroller. But other ideas are on the table too.

The stir over what to do about the Comptroller's office began when, just before she was to be sworn in for a second term, Judy Baar Topinka suddenly passed away.

Next week, Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner will appoint Leslie Munger, a businesswoman and failed candidate for state representative, to fill Topinka's spot for the next four years.

Munger '14 Campaign Website http://votemunger.com/about-leslie/

  Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has announced his choice for Illinois' next comptroller -- someone who, like himself, is a relative newcomer to state politics.

Residents of Illinois' 59th House district are probably familiar with the name Leslie Munger: their mailboxes, no doubt, were flooded all fall with campaign brochures featuring her name.

Her failed, but tight, race against incumbent Democratic state Rep. Carol Sente of Carol Stream was chalked up to be one of the slimiest of the season.

Despite that loss, Munger will be coming to Springfield.

Illinois Issues

It was long a practice of Illinois politicians: Give a buddy a short-term job at the end of his career in order to boost his pension. Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law that's supposed to put an end to that practice. But what about the friend who Quinn just gave a promotion?

The elevation of Jerry Stermer from the governor's budget director to Illinois' comptroller will bring with it a raise of ten thousand dollars for a full year's work.

Gov. Quinn on Friday (12/19) appointed Stermer to temporarily serve as comptroller following Judy Baar Topinka's death.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

A note that this week's State Week in Review was recorded before Governor Pat Quinn's announcement that he is appointing his budget chief, Jerry Stermer, to fill the office of state Comptroller.  Stermer will serve until Governor-elect Bruce Rauner takes office on Jan. 12, at which time the new governor will announce a full four-year replacement.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Judy Baar Topinka, who died of a stroke last week, was no stranger to the dizzying world of Illinois politics. The state comptroller had also been state treasurer, served in the legislature and lost a race for governor to Rod Blagojevich. So it's easy to imagine that Topinka would not be surprised at the ongoing furor and partisan divide over how to replace her.

It was just Wednesday that Gov. Pat Quinn praised Topinka at her memorial service, saying "she's done so much for all the people of Illinois. And I think there's a hole in the hearts of the people of our state."

Amanda Vinicky

Many of Illinois' top politicians will pay their respects to the late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka at a memorial service today (Wed., Dec. 17). Topinka died last week at the age of 70, shortly after having a stroke. Even as she's being mourned, political jockeying is underway to determine who'll next take her job.

Topinka passed away a month before she was to be sworn into her next term as Comptroller -- the position in state government responsible for paying the bills.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week, a look back at the long political career of state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, who died this week following a stroke.

With the death of Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, it would seem that the next step is for the Governor to appoint a successor.  However, election officials are unsure about the process:

The constitution says the governor would choose someone to fill out the term until the next election. Except the term ends January 12  and an election has already been held.   State Board of Elections Director Rupert Borgsmiller says they are not sure how to handle it:

"Nobody knows at this point by looking at the  constitution and the election code itself"

  After going without pay for three months, Illinois legislators' paychecks are in the bank.

Serving as a state senator or representative is technically a part-time job -- and for some, it is. For others, it is a full-time gig and sole source of income.

Which made it tough when Gov. Pat Quinn canceled General Assembly members' pay over the summer because they failed to pass legislation to cut pension costs.

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