House Speaker Favors Comptroller Election In 2016

House Speaker Michael Madigan talks to lawmakers in Springfield December 3.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, speaks to lawmakers while on the House floor during veto session Wednesday, Dec. 3,

(AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Chances the state will hold a special election for comptroller in 2016 have improved - now that the Illinois House Speaker has signaled his support. 

Llawmakers will be back in Springfield for special session Thursday to vote on it.

Speaker Michael Madigan's spokesman, Steve Brown, said 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.

"This was all precipitated by the sad passing, of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, before sworn in for the term she won last November," he said.

As it stands now, Illinois law permits a governor to make an appointment to fill vacancies in constitutional offices.

That would allow Governor-elect Bruce Rauner's pick for comptroller, businesswoman Leslie Munger, to hold the office for four years.

But if the legislation introduced this week becomes law, Munger's appointment would only last two years. 

Then, in 2016, voters would weigh in on who should be comptroller. Brown says he's hopeful the measure will pass, then immediately go to Governor Pat Quinn for his signature.

Quinn supports the plan; on Monday he'll be replaced by Rauner, who has dismissed the concept of a special election.

"I thank Speaker Madigan for his partnership and support of this important legislation that will allow voters to exercise their democratic right to elect their Comptroller," said Quinn, in a statement released Wednesday.  “We must ensure that power always lies with the people in choosing who their statewide elected officials should be.  I look forward to working with Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton to pass this measure tomorrow in the Illinois House and Senate.”

Story source: Illinois Public Radio