010313br0527 resizedToday, the General Assembly approved legislation that affirms the fundamentals of democratic government by letting voters decide who will serve as Illinois' comptroller.

When Judy Baar Topinka, who had just been elected for a second term as comptroller — one of the state's two elected fiscal officers — passed away tragically and unexpectedly in December, state law allowed the governor to choose her successor. Because Governor-elect Rauner, who will take his oath of office on Monday, is authorized to appoint a comptroller for the new term, Illinois could have an unelected individual serving for four years in what the state constitution created as an elected office.

I did not believe this was the right approach, so I was proud to vote in favor of a successful proposal to hold a special election for comptroller in November 2016. Voters will be able to choose someone to serve as comptroller for the next two years at the same time they go to the polls to vote for U.S. president and other offices. The people have a right to determine who represents them in government, and I will always stand up, speak out and vote for that right.

I also continue to support merging the positions of comptroller and treasurer — a move that will save taxpayers $12 million per year and result in better and more efficient government. In the past, I have co-sponsored constitutional amendments that would combine the two offices, and I plan to join my colleague Senator Kwame Raoul in reintroducing this measure next week.

Crains SB 16 article graphic

Last week, I talked with Crain's Chicago Business about the current state of the housing market in Illinois and how we can improve the law's approach to foreclosures.

In February 2013, a plan I had introduced to help unclog the foreclosure pipeline, keep abandoned properties from blighting neighborhoods and fund foreclosure prevention counseling was signed into law. While new foreclosure filings are down in Illinois overall, some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods are still not seeing relief, and the "fast track" procedure designed to speed the process for boarded-up eyesores is rarely used. I intend to work on tweaking the fast track law so revitalization can occur in our hardest pressed communities, where the housing crisis is not yet in the past.

Graphic credit: Crain's Chicago Business


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