Problem with cutting lt. governor's office: Cost of mailing

Getting rid of the lieutenant governor's office could save $1.6 million a year, says state Rep. David McSweeney, who started the idea moving this week in the General Assembly.

But the required notification to voters about a proposed change in the state constitution, if it got that far, could cost more than the first-year savings - a possible dilemma for a cash-poor state that's been operating without a budget for almost 10 months.

If lawmakers approve the measure by the Barrington Hills Republican, voters would have the final say in November.

Anytime an amendment goes on the ballot, the law says Secretary of State Jesse White has to mail the text of the amendment to voters in advance.

In 2014, mailing the text of two proposed amendments cost $2.4 million.

Without a state budget in place, sending the mailers "would be a real problem," White spokesman Henry Haupt said. He wouldn't say whether a mailing could be sent at all.

McSweeney says he'd favor waiving the mailing, particularly given the state's budget situation. He's asked for lawmakers to remain in Springfield until it's figured out.

Not the first time

Anyone who's been paying attention to the state's budget war knows mailing things has been a problem for White. Because of the budget crunch, his office stopped mailing license plate sticker reminders last year, a move that has left some drivers with late fees.

Bigger picture

The mailing would be a one-time cost and McSweeney's plan would save money every year. His proposal has been approved by a House committee and awaits further debate. It has been approved by the House before but not the Senate, so its future is unclear.

"We still have a long way to go to get Illinois' finances back on track, but we have to start somewhere," McSweeney said.

Go for it

Republican Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti of Wheaton has been pushing for slimming down government, so what does she think about the idea of getting rid of her office?

"All consolidation, from local townships to constitutional offices, like mine, should be considered," she said in a statement.

Sanguinetti also backs combining the offices of state comptroller and treasurer. She says that would save $12 million.

Commercial break

Yes, the primary election here ended weeks ago.

Yes, you are seeing political ads on your TV again.

Americans for Prosperity will start running TV ads this week to pressure suburban Democrats about property taxes. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has made freezing property taxes a top priority.

"Blah, blah, blah. All talk. No results. On property taxes, that's the story in Springfield," the spot says.

Last week, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said suburban Democrats would be "paying the price" if the budget stalemate continues.

But Republicans will face their own tough ads, too, from the Service Employees International Union, which is targeting a handful of suburban Republicans.

"Gov. Rauner is attacking those Illinoisans who care for our seniors and people with disabilities, endangering the most vulnerable," one of the ads says.

Not the end

Both sides say mailers will accompany those TV ads. Plus potential phone calls and rallies.

They're not campaign ads but could be intended to put pressure on suburban lawmakers whose votes could be key to a lot of big issues this year.

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