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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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November 8, 2016 —Illinois General Election

State of Illinois — ” Claire Ball, Candidate for ComptrollerUnexpired 2-year term

Photo of Claire Ball

Claire Ball

Libertarian
Accountant
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  • Increase transparency at all levels with clear-cut criteria and more detail, from financial reports to the budgets to the payment process.
  • Increase fiscal responsibility through timely and accurate reporting for the state.
  • Advocate for establishing independent safeguards against fraud and malfeasance at all levels of government.
Profession:Accountant
Accountant, U.S. Cellular (2014–current)
Regional Accountant, First Industrial Real Estate (2006–2014)
Keller School of Management Master's, Accounting and Finance (2009)
DeVry University Bachelor's, Accounting and Finance (2006)
Member, College of DuPage Budget Committee (2015–2016)

I was born in Evanston, Illinois before moving to the mountains of Santa Cruz California when I was very young. My parents divorced when I was eight and my mother, sister, older brother and I moved back to Illinois to live with my grandmother in a little Chicago south–side Irish neighborhood called Mt. Greenwood, where I spent my teen years.

I was homeschooled, thanks to a very liberal mother, until college. 
After a few years at a community college, I met my husband. I chose my major – accounting – based on the experiences of a relative whom I have never met, who spent her life as an accountant – her story inspired me. After a few accounting classes, I realized I truly enjoyed the concepts and work in my major. I had wonderful teachers who threw fantastically fun twists on topics that are traditionally dry and dull, and my enthusiasm for the subject grew from there. I finished with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting in the spring of 2006, bought my first and only home in Addison a few months later, and then went back in 2007 to get my Master’s degree in Accounting and Finance.

I work for the corporate offices of U.S. Cellular as an accountant, and every day I’m learning something new. I like to spend my free time with my husband and two cats, watching silent and golden era movies (with the occasional new release for variety). I like to practice yoga and shooting, both to clear my mind and to help me to focus. I love to go hunting in thrift stores; you can find gems if you’re willing to dig. I enjoy music and making videos when my husband and I have a great idea. When I have the chance, I love to go road–tripping and camping around the country. It is so fun driving around all over the U.S., finding those small towns, and meeting all the great people who live there.

1.
Question 1

The Illinois comptroller should not only manage the state's checkbook, but speak out for responsible fiscal decisions. What will you be telling Illinois leaders about the state’s financial situation?

Answer from Claire Ball:

I will tell Illinois leaders and taxpayers the honest truth about the state’s financial situation. That our state cannot ignore accurate and timely financial reporting, that our state cannot pay down debts without a balanced budget, and that our state cannot short-pay payments into our long-term obligations (such as the pension funds). By identifying and reporting on all long-term financial obligations of the state I will bring attention to these debts long before they come due. 

2.
Question 2

Illinois faces huge challenges in funding its pension systems. The comptroller serves on the state investment board and chairs the state employee retirement system board. If the governor and Legislature don’t provide full funding for pensions, what is the comptroller obligated to do about that?

Answer from Claire Ball:

The comptroller should speak out in support of the full funding of all financial obligations of the state. Additionally, because the pensions are so underfunded, it is crucial to maximize returns. I advocate, as recommended by the Harvard Business Review, that pension investments be managed by an independent board legally required to operate at arm’s length from the political system. 

3.
Question 3

A lesson Illinois should have learned by now is to not skip pension payments. Yet in the fall of 2015, a pension payment was again delayed. Does the comptroller have a fiduciary duty to speak out against that?

Answer from Claire Ball:

The Comptroller should always speak out against poor financial decisions, whether it relates to pulling money from specific funds to cover general costs, not making payments into long-term debt obligation funds, or weak internal controls.

4.
Question 4

When the state is operating without a budget, what role should the comptroller play in minimizing the negative aspects of having no budget and bringing the state toward a resolution?

Answer from Claire Ball:

By bringing clarity and transparency to the payment process, vendors will have the ability to make informed financial decisions. I will also implement increased internal controls to prevent and detect fraud and malfeasance. As a neutral and independent state comptroller I will not hesitate to call out leaders of both major parties for their role in the failure to pass a budget.

5.
Question 5

Should the comptroller mechanically pay bills in the order they come in, or does the comptroller have a responsibility to prioritize who gets paid first? If the comptroller decides who gets paid first, is there a risk of politics influencing those decisions? What controls would you put in place to prevent that? If you agree payments should be prioritized, to whom would you give priority?

Answer from Claire Ball:

I will publish a table of categories that details the payment priority order. The top of that list will be mandatory and court-ordered payments followed by service providers, such as mental health facilities, veteran services, and elderly care. These providers should be paid, not used as political pawns. The most fair we can be to our vendors would be to provide clear expectations of when they can expect payment, so they can make informed financial decisions. To minimize the risk of politics influencing payment decisions, elect a comptroller who is #QualifiedNotConnected.

6.
Question 6

Does the comptroller have a responsibility to act as a tool for economic development by expediting payments to small businesses in distressed communities?

Answer from Claire Ball:

The comptroller can foster economic development by keeping politics out of the payment process and allowing markets to work in distressed communities.

7.
Question 7

Should the Illinois offices of treasurer and comptroller be merged? Will you publicly advocate for a constitutional amendment to merge the offices?

Answer from Claire Ball:

The Illinois Constitution specifically states the Treasurer cannot accept funds until they have been recorded by the Comptroller. This rule was established for good reason. Sound accounting practices keep the duties of (1) Authorization, (2) Recordkeeping, and (3) Custody of Assets separate to minimize the risk of fraud. In Illinois, Custody of Assets are held by the Treasurer, while both Authorization and Recordkeeping are held by the Comptroller. This control should not be eliminated, especially in a state infamous for sending its’ politicians to prison. Any cost savings that could be achieved through the elimination of one position, would be insignificant next to the increased risk of corruption.

8.
Question 8

The comptroller is responsible for auditing local governments. What role should the comptroller play in ensuring Illinois’ local government structure is efficient?

Answer from Claire Ball:

I will review and analyze the reporting from local governments and audit local agencies on their internal control processes and procedures. I will publish my findings and recommendations in order to provide full disclosure to the taxpayers so everyone is aware of how efficient (or inefficient) our government is running. 

— September 30, 2016 Chicago Sun-Times

Claire Ball tells why she should be the Illinois State Comptroller.

Email info@ClaireBallForIllinois.com
Phone: (630) 344-9622

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