April 20, 2012
A powerful tool of change is being abused by House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Our state’s Constitution provides a process by which constitutional amendments can be put to voters, but limits the number that can be considered during one election. No more than three articles of our state’s Constitution can be amended at one time.
One Constitutional amendment that deserves a public vote is a cost-savings proposal to merge the offices of the state Comptroller and Treasurer. The resolution was adopted by a unanimous vote of the Senate on March 31, 2011, but it is being held by the Speaker Madigan while other amendments are being given priority.
The Speaker is pushing his proposal to require a supermajority, three-fifths vote for passage of any legislation to increase pension benefits. Because of the cost-saving potential, I support his proposal and asked him to consider strengthening it by also requiring that no such vote take place during any lame-duck session of the General Assembly, a recommendation he did not take.
However, the Senate Executive Committee approved resolutions calling for two more constitutional amendments on April 18. One amends the Bill of Rights Article of the Illinois Constitution to provide additional rights to crime victims. Another requires each State’s Attorney to be a resident of the state. The issues addressed in these amendments are quite important and I support them; however, if they advance, there will be no room for the Comptroller/Treasurer merger amendment on the ballot.
Constitutional amendments should not be subject to political games or power plays. The state’s attorney residency amendment addresses a valid issue, but its passage is not particularly time-sensitive nor does it have the cost-savings impact of Comptroller/Treasurer merger amendment. If Speaker Madigan is serious about addressing the state’s fiscal crisis, he needs to let Comptroller/Treasurer merger amendment have an immediate hearing in the House of Representatives.
State Senator, 44th District