McSweeney reintroduces bill to abolish lieutenant governor
Proposals to abolish the Illinois lieutenant governor's office have failed twice, but this time Barrington Hills Republican state Rep. David McSweeney is trying a new approach.
Cost of notifying voters and lines of succession were cited as reasons to stop the legislation in the past, but now McSweeney believes he's got the right formula to get the proposal through both chambers and onto ballots so that voters can ultimately decide whether to dump the constitutionally mandated office. Legislation cleared the House in 2013 and 2016, only to be stopped in the Senate.
McSweeney has filed two versions of the resolution that would eliminate the post. In one, it simply moves the line of succession for statewide officeholders up one notch, making the attorney general first in line to ascend to the governor's seat if it becomes vacant, which would currently put Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan in that spot.
The other version calls for the highest-ranking officeholder from the same party to ascend to the governorship. Currently, that would mean Lemont Republican state Sen. Christine Radogno, who serves as the Senate Minority Leader, would be first in line to replace Rauner if the measure is approved, since all the statewide officeholders and legislative chamber heads are Democrats.
"My preference is to go with the original line of succession without the lieutenant governor, but I've had some pushback on that, so that's why I've got the second resolution," McSweeney said. "Ultimately there's no reason to have this absolutely unnecessary office and the $1.5 million it costs to run it could be used to pay down bills and provide a spending reduction."
McSweeney also filed a bill that would eliminate the requirement that the secretary of state send notices to every household in the state notifying them of the proposed change, which is estimated to cost more than $1 million. Instead, it would allow for the state to advertise the ballot question in newspapers and online.
Last fiscal year, Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti of Wheaton spent a little more than $1.1 million to run her office, according to financial records from the Illinois comptroller's office. The lieutenant governor position pays $135,669 a year, but Sanguinetti wasn't paid the full amount in either 2015 or 2016, receiving $120,000 in 2015 and $68,000 in 2016, according to state records.
Sanguinetti chaired the Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force, which highlighted DuPage County consolidation efforts and made 27 recommendations in December 2015.
Sanguinetti "has advocated for consolidation at all levels of government -- including her office and other constitutional offices like the Treasurer and Comptroller," spokeswoman Marcela Cartagena said.