PEORIA — Republican candidates for state treasurer and comptroller campaigned here Wednesday, calling on lawmakers to approve a constitutional amendment consolidating those two offices.
Jim Dodge and Darlene Senger cast themselves as two more voices in the long-running effort to put the measure before voters and potentially save millions of dollars in what they called staffing redundancies between the offices that, respectively, invest state money and pay state bills.
"This is just good government and better, faster, more efficient government," said Senger, the candidate for comptroller.
The initiative has been approved by members of the state Senate previously, but not members of the House, where Speaker Michael Madigan has a history of opposing the merger.
Madigan was among the architects of the 1970 Illinois Constitution, which established two separate offices in the wake of a 1956 scandal in which the state's auditor of public accounts resigned after embezzling $6 million.
"With the right data, technology and process you could avoid the risks like we had in the '50s with prior corruption," said Dodge, the candidate for treasurer.
The window to get such a proposal on the fall ballot closed three months ago, but the duo stressed that if elected they would unite in pushing for its adoption in future years.
Incumbent Treasurer Michael Frerichs has previously said he supports a merger. In an interview at the Journal Star last month, he described his voting record in the Senate in favor of the measure and questioned why the topic was being raised in the campaign now rather than before the May deadline to get the proposal on the November ballot.
Susana Mendoza, the incumbent comptroller, has been cool to consolidation proposals. Spokesman Abdon Pallasch told GateHouse Media Illinois last month she believes the Illinoisans who wrote the 1970 Constitution were correct to create two separate offices.
Both also committed that until a consolidation measure passes, if elected they would both look for ways to share staff between their offices to cut down overhead — an idea Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon championed when she sought the comptroller's position four years ago.
Chris Kaergard can be reached at 686-3255 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @ckaergard on Twitter.