News Local/State

Legislature Passes Measure For 2016 Comptroller Election

Representative Barbara Flynn Currie speaks during Thursday's special session.

Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, speaks to lawmakers while on the House floor during special session at the Illinois State Capitol. Lawmakers decide whether to approve a special election in 2016. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

The General Assembly concluded a one-day special session Thursday by sending the Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn legislation setting up the 2016 vote to replace the late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.

It became an issue after she suddenly died, ahead of beginning a new four-year term. 

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie say voters should have the opportunity to choose someone, rather than letting an appointee hold the post for such a long time.

"Certainly nobody expected Judy to die untimely," she said.  "It was untimely. But it raises the question: what should the role of the Assembly be, given the constitutional opportunity that we are provided to set a special election? It seems to me democracy demands we do just that."

With this legislation, though, Governor-elect Bruce Rauner's appointee, Leslie Munger, will only be guaranteed two years; Democrats will get a chance to win back the office in 2016.  Munger said today she'd run for the post.

That setup has prompted protests from Republicans, like this one from Rep. Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon.

"But what we're doing today is pure and simple politics," she said.  "We don't like the fact that we have a Republican governor that's going to be sworn in, and so at the eleventh hour - bingo. We're going to stick it to him."

Outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn says lawmakers' approval of a special election for comptroller is a "victory for democracy.''

GOP legislators are trying to stop the majority Democrats from passing the bill. They say it's undemocratic to bend the rules to get it through in a single day.

Rauner released a statement late Thursday, through his spokesman.

"Governor-elect Rauner believed the best outcome for Illinoisans was for the Comptroller appointment to be for the full term to which Judy Baar Topinka was elected and conclude with the merging of the Comptroller and Treasurer offices in 2018," said spokesman Mike Schrimpf.  "While Democrats in the General Assembly refused today to take bipartisan steps toward merging those offices and proceeded instead with a Constitutionally-dubious election bill, the Governor-elect remains committed to working with members of both political parties to pass 'Judy's Amendment' and finally merge the Comptroller and Treasurer offices, which would be a true victory for taxpayers."