News Local/State

Mike Frerichs Prepares For State Treasurer’s Office

Democratic candidate for state treasurer Mike Frerichs talks to reporters on election night

State Senator Mike Frerichs (D) waiting for results in his race for state treasurer. Keenan Chan

Before State Senator Mike Frerichs is sworn in as Illinois' treasurer next month, he's got a few more votes to cast as a legislator.

But Frerichs, a Democrat from Champaign, doesn't think one of them will be for extending the 2011 temporary income tax increase.

He says Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner will have to cope with a hole in the state's budget when the tax rolls back in the new year, without the action of the General Assembly.

"The people chose a new governor and he's going to have an opportunity to come in and look at the budget and propose his own budget and there's going to be some real difficult decisions out there," he said. "We'll see his vision, I think, in February."

That's when Rauner is scheduled to give his first budget address.

Many of Frerichs' Democratic colleagues in the General Assembly have lobbied for the past year to extend the 5 percent income tax rate. But legislative leaders have since backed off of that promise after incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn lost the governor's race. (Frerichs himself favors a progressive income tax system, rather than extending the tax).

Frerichs' personal Election Day stretched for two weeks longer than his colleagues, as he waited on results in the extremely tight race for Illinois State Treasurer.

But he finally pulled ahead of his opponent, Republican Tom Cross, by more than 9,000 votes, and was officially declared the winner on Sunday. 

He's got a little more than a month before being sworn in, and he says he's trying to learn all he can, including tips from outgoing state treasurer, Republican Dan Rutherford.

Frerichs had been critical of Rutherford's investment strategies during his campaign, but he says he'll take care to include Rutherford's staff in his transition period.

Frerichs will likely not take a vote on any more state pension legislation, as his colleagues in the General Assembly are waiting on final word from the Illinois Supreme Court about whether or not the state's pension overhaul law, passed last year, will be allowed to move forward.

It's a law that Frerichs, currently a state senator, did not vote for, but will have to contend with in his new job, investing the state's pension funds.

He says he'd be willing to help facilitate discussions among all interested parties in the pension overhaul, but points to a bill the Senate passed last year, before the law that was ultimately agreed upon. That bill, SB 2404, was negotiated between the General Assembly and the state's unions.\

A previous version of this story implied Frerichs had lobbied for the extension of the 2011 income tax.