Editorial: It's easy to support elimination of lieutenant governor position

A suburban legislator again has filed a proposed Constitutional Amendment seeking the elimination of the lieutenant governor's position in Illinois and we wholeheartedly support it and the estimated savings of $1.5 million annually.

This week, Illinois legislators will debate the "grand bargain" proposed by Senate President John Cullerton, a Democrat, and GOP Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno as a way to deal with the ongoing budget dispute. We're encouraged by the bipartisan effort, even if we are concerned about pieces of it.

But the hard-to-swallow parts of it may be easier down the road if we start to see our state politicians take steps that may be difficult politically, like eliminating elected positions.

The lieutenant governor's role has always been murky and only defined by the person in the office or the governor's chair. One quit because he was bored. The current officeholder, Evelyn Sanguinetti of Wheaton, has tried to make it a more worthwhile office by, ironically, heading up a commission on government consolidation. While it may be difficult, we encourage her to put her support behind this effort and there ought also be a real effort to consolidate the comptroller's and treasurer's offices as proposed many times.

State Rep. David McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican, is behind this current effort just as he was last year when he accused a colleague of hijacking the proposal in the Senate in order to get it defeated. This go around, he's proposed two ways of dealing with the sticky wicket of successorship to the governor - the only real reason to have a lieutenant governor in the first place.

McSweeney supports just removing the lieutenant governor in the current order, thereby moving up the attorney general to the second spot. But some oppose that on the basis that the governor's office could change political parties - for example, current Attorney General Lisa Madigan is a Democrat.

We agree with McSweeney that the current order is preferable. But we understand why he also gave the option of moving up the highest officeholder of the governor's current party.

That would move Radogno to the top of the list under the current successor order. The problem with that is that Radogno was not elected statewide; she's a state senator elected to her leadership position by other GOP senators. But by offering a compromise - hey, isn't that novel - he takes away the only remaining obstacle to putting this question to voters.

This bill should be approved and voters then would be similarly encouraged to support it.

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