House Speaker Michael Madigan talks to lawmakers in Springfield December 3.
(AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
January 07, 2015

House Speaker Favors Comptroller Election In 2016

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.”

January 05, 2015

Rauner Announces Pick For Comptroller

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has announced a onetime state legislative candidate and businesswoman as his pick for Illinois' next comptroller.

In a news release issued Monday, Rauner says Leslie Munger has been focused on fiscal and economic issues.
Munger lost in November to Democratic state Rep. Carol Sente for a suburban Chicago legislative seat. Munger has also served as a Republican precinct committeewoman.
The 58-year-old is a graduate of the University of Illinois and has a master's in business from Northwestern University. She's held director and management positions at Helene Curtis Industries and Proctor & Gamble.
Munger will fill the position left vacant by the death last month of Judy Baar Topinka.
This week, Illinois lawmakers are expected to consider the possibility of a 2016 special election to complete Topinka's term.

December 31, 2014

Hear The Sounds Of 2014 In Illinois Politics

Brian Mackey compiled this audio montage for Illinois Public Radio, of some of the voices that made news in Illinois politics in 2014.

Most of the action was in the campaign for governor ... in which Bruce Rauner became the first Republican to win that office since the late 1990's. But you'll also hear the voices of Rauner's GOP primary rivals including Bill Brady and Dan Rutherford, Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and the late state comptroller, Judy Baar Topinka.


Illinois Governor Pat Quinn
December 31, 2014

Quinn Issues Posthumous Pardons For 3 Abolitionists

Gov. Pat Quinn has granted clemency to more than 100 people, including posthumous pardons for three Illinois abolitionists found guilty of working on the Underground Railroad. 

The three granted Wednesday weren't part of the thousands of requests awaiting the Chicago Democrat who leaves office next month. Among those, he granted 99 requests and denied 208 for cases dating to 2008.

The crimes included burglary and forgery.
Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon pushed for the posthumous pardons. Her office worked on them with state historians and legal interns as a special project.

The pardons were granted to Richard Eells of Quincy and Julius and Samuel Willard of Jacksonville, who were convicted more than 170 years ago.
Overall, Quinn has acted on over 4,000 clemency petitions, granting 1,520.

He leaves office Jan. 12 when Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner is sworn in.

the Illinois capitol dome as seen from inside the capitol looking up
Hannah Meisel/WILL
December 30, 2014

Illinois Politics Year In Review/Look Ahead

It's been quite a year in Illinois politics. After a lively and contentious race for the governor's mansion, Gov. Pat Quinn was ousted by Republican challenger Bruce Rauner. When Rauner is sworn in as governor in two weeks, it'll be the first time a Republican has held the office in 12 years.

(Audio is marked with specific subject matter; just click on WILL icon within SoundCloud track)

We asked Illinois Public Radio's statehouse bureau chief Amanda Vinicky to give us the rundown of what happened in 2014, and how a new Republican administration could shift the dynamics in Springfield in 2015.

Though Rauner ran on the promise to "shake up Springfield," Vinicky notes that the party change in the governor's mansion was one of the only adjustments; Democrats in the General Assembly held onto their veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate in November, and down-ballot Republicans did not do as well as Rauner -- as in the case of the race for state treasurer. Weeks after Election Day, state Sen. Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign) was finally declared the winner of that contest against former Republican House minority leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego). 

Much was made of Democratic plans to extend the 2011 income tax hike, but the New Year will see that tax rate roll back, something Rauner will have to contend with as the state faces a gaping hole in its budget. 

And what of Gov. Quinn? He's been around state government for four decades, in roles actually in government, or as an antagonistic gadfly, calling for good-government reform. Where will Quinn go after holding the state's highest office?

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