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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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Comptroller — State of Illinois

Unexpired 2-year term
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About this office

Maintains the state's central fiscal accounts, orders payments into and out of the funds held by the treasurer, and approves payments made by the state to its employees and creditors.
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Candidates

You can vote for 1 of these 4 candidates.

Leslie Geissler Munger

Republican
Businessperson
Top 3 Priorities
  1. To serve as an independent voice and taxpayer advocate...
  2. To bring relief to human services and small businesses...
  3. Lead state government to a new level of transparency...
Profile
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Susana Mendoza

Democratic
Elected Official
Top 3 Priorities
  1. Be an independent truth-telling fiscal watchdog that...
  2. Work to enhance the overall internal control environment...
  3. Broker needed fiscal stewardship measures across the...
Profile
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Claire Ball

Libertarian
Accountant
Top 3 Priorities
  1. Increase transparency at all levels with clear-cut...
  2. Increase fiscal responsibility through timely and...
  3. Advocate for establishing independent safeguards against...
Profile
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Tim (Stein) Curtin

Green
Union Organizer
Top 3 Priorities
Tim (Stein) Curtin's priorities are not yet available.

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Republican
Businessperson
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • To serve as an independent voice and taxpayer advocate for fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget in Springfield.
  • To bring relief to human services and small businesses suffering undue hardship due to severe state payment delays.
  • Lead state government to a new level of transparency to ensure that financial information is not only available, but accessible, to taxpayers.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Businessperson
Assistant brand manager, Procter and Gamble (1982–current)
Comptroller, State of Illinois — Appointed position (2015–current)
Category director, Helene Curtis/Unilever (1984–2001)
Manager of recruiting, McKinsey & Company (1978–1982)

Education

Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University M.B.A. (1982)
University of Illinois B.S. (1978)

Questions & Answers

Questions from Chicago Sun-Times (8)

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 Leslie Geissler Munger:

I think the best indicator of what I will do in the future is what I have done during my past 19 months in office.  My predecessor, Judy Baar Topinka, used to say, as Comptroller, you don’t have a vote in the General Assembly but you do have “one heck of a megaphone.”   I have used that megaphone continually throughout my 19 months in office to speak out to Illinois leaders on both sides of the aisle about the importance of getting our fiscal house in order, ending the budget gimmicks and political gridlock, and passing a balanced budget.  

I have highlighted the consequences that the state’s dismal fiscal condition and running our state without a budget has had on our residents, businesses and importantly, the non-profit social service organizations that serve those most in need.  I have used my “kitchen table” example to bring the state’s financial situation down to a family household level by taking six zeros off all the numbers – e.g., bill backlog, daily cash available, unfunded pension liability – to help all understand the severity of the problems we face. 

I continue to drive home that point every month by requiring Constitutional Officers – myself included – and the 177 members of the General Assembly to wait in line for payment with every other state vendor.  We are all receiving our paychecks on a several month delay.    I strongly believe those of us who are elected to office are public servants, and should not be prioritized over anyone else the state owes.   We all need to be in this together – and I can assure you that our leaders in Springfield have heard that message.  I recently introduced another initiative, “No Budget, No Pay”, that would require our leaders – the Governor and the General Assembly – to pass a balanced budget as defined by the Constitution by the end of May or paychecks stop until they get the job is done. 

Going forward, I will continue to speak out to Illinois leaders to implement better fiscal practices and to work together to pass a balanced budget.  I will continue to provide whatever state spending data and payment information in necessary to help move the process forward.

 

Finally, I recently introduced suggested reforms to the state’s budgeting process and financial management that I will advance in the coming months. These reforms include: (1) creating a two-year budget plan to allow for planning beyond the current fiscal year and longer-term consideration of the spending decisions, (2) implementing an “overspending alert” system that notifies the public when a state agency is spending dollars at a quicker rate than its budget can sustain, and (3) restoring the state’s “rainy day fund,” when we are are better funded so we ensure we do not end up in this situation again.

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 Leslie Geissler Munger:

The Comptroller has an obligation to serve as a loud and unwavering advocate for fully funding the state’s pension systems.  Our unfunded liability today stands at $115 billion because for decades the General Assembly and our Governors underfunded the systems and voted for pension holidays and borrowing, essentially making promises to state employees to provide retirement benefits without providing the resources necessary to keep its word.  Surprisingly, as recently as FY2005 unfunded pension liabilities totaled just over $30 Billion.  However, by FY2010 the unfunded liabilities had more than doubled to over $75 Billion as a result of the pension holidays taken in 2005 and 2006 and it has grown ever since.  

My opponent spent 10 years in the General Assembly and voted for the very pension holidays that caused this spiking of unfunded liabilities.   She also voted for legislation that underfunded CPS pensions by $1 billion in 2010 and with Governor Blagojevich to borrow $10 Billion against the pension funds in 2003.   She now says the systems must be fully-funded but her record speaks much louder than her words.

 

Taxpayers will continue to pay the price for those short-sighted, politically-motivated decisions for years to come and it is essential we do not repeat those mistakes.

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 Leslie Geissler Munger:

It is critical that Illinois learns from history and does not repeat the mistakes of the past. The law requires we make the full pension payment owed within the fiscal year.  We have had a practice of making it every month, but for perspective, Comptroller Dan Hynes would make the entire annual pension payment at one time at the end of the fiscal year, meeting the state’s obligation without adding to its liability.  The fact is that the November, 2015, pension payment had to be delayed because we did not have the cash available to make all the state’s court-ordered or statutorily-mandated payments (service on debt, K-12 education, state employee payroll, payments to social services) and make the pension payment.  This was a direct result of the cash shortages caused by an unprecedented budget impasse.  The decision allowed the state to make payments required by the Courts without impacting our unfunded pension liability.  We made the contribution up by April 2016, as promised, and all retirees received their checks on time.

 

The state ended the 2016 fiscal year having made its pension contributions in full and is current on its monthly contributions in FY2017.

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 Leslie Geissler Munger:

Without a budget, there are certain payments that cannot legally be made. During the year- long budget impasse, I made it my priority to highlight social service organizations, small business, schools and others that were suffering because there was simply no legal mechanism for them to be paid. That meant traveling to domestic violence shelters, speaking out about services for the developmentally disabled and talking with constituents and media at every turn in an attempt to build public pressure on all parties in Springfield to pass a balanced budget.

At the same time, I worked closely with state vendors and other state agencies to explore legal options to ensure critical payments were made even in the absence of a budget. Through those efforts, we identified existing consent decree language that allowed us to make payments to Early Intervention providers who had not been paid in 6 months. 

We worked with for the Department of Children and Family Services and AFSME to help state workers get reimbursements for their travel vouchers so they could continue to do their jobs.  We worked with legislators to identify the sources of revenue that allowed us to fund higher education.  We then expedited those funds to those schools, e.g., Chicago State,  that were most in need.  We worked with Mayor Emmanuel and CPS to ensure they had the funding necessary throughout the summer and into August so Chicago schools could open on time.  We helped organizations who serve our elderly and those with severe developmental disabilities keep their doors open.   And, as mentioned in question 3, I delayed the November 2015 pension contribution so that I could make all other payments ordered in the state.  Since retiree checks went out on schedule and the payment could be made up within the fiscal year, there was minimal, if any, negative impact. 

 

All these actions were taken so that we could continue to provide funds to as many organizations as we were legally able to pay, to keep state services running.  Throughout all this, I continued to be a vocal advocate for all to work together to pass a balanced budget. 

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 Leslie Geissler Munger:

In general, it benefits the state to pay bills on a “first-in, first out” basis, because the state pays 1% per month interest on bills in house for more than 90 days.   However, given the severe cash shortages and the length of state payment delays, the Comptroller has a moral obligation to do everything possible to bring relief to human service providers, small businesses, hospitals, schools and others to help them continue to provide the services the state contracted with them to provide. As a rule of thumb: those suffering the greatest hardship, and our most vulnerable, should always take precedence.  I have made it my policy to ensure that social services and small businesses are prioritized if they are on the verge of slashing services or closing their doors because of state payment delays.

In addition, there are certain payments that I am legally required to make on a specific timeline, including the state’s debt service and employee payroll. In the absence of a budget in FY16, I was also bound by a number of Court Orders (which are still in effect) requiring Medicaid and certain social services be paid at a regular interval or on a specific pay date.

Transparency is key to ensuring accountability in paying the state’s bills, which is why I revamped our Ledger transparency website to make payment information more accessible for taxpayers. I also introduced a “google-like” feature on our Open Book page so that anyone can quickly compare campaign contributions with state contracts.  This allows anyone to easily track a state payment to a political contribution – the very fact that this information is so accessible should help ensure payments are not politically motivated.  Both of those sites, and financial audits for local units of government, can all be easily found at illinoiscomptroller.gov.

I am working to make state payments even more transparent.  Currently, the state operates a decades-old, COBOL-based accounting system that hinders the public’s ability to take a comprehensive approach to examining state records.  That is why I have led efforts to consolidate our 260+ different accounting systems into one, new state-of the art cloud-based system, putting our state’s accounting systems on par with the private sector and make Illinois a national leader in transparency.  We are one year into the pilot.  

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 Leslie Geissler Munger:

The Comptroller has a responsibility to expedite payments to small businesses that are on the brink due to state payment delays. With $8 billion in unpaid bills, our office performs triage every day. I have directed my staff to prioritize payments for those suffering the most hardship due to the state’s fiscal crisis – and human services and small businesses are consistently at the top of that list. Clearly, the plight of small businesses in distressed communities can be even more challenging, creating an even greater sense of urgency. 

Should the Illinois offices of treasurer and comptroller be merged? Will you publicly advocate for a constitutional amendment to merge the offices?
Answer from Leslie Geissler Munger:

I strongly support merging the offices of Treasurer and Comptroller. Consolidation of the state’s two fiscal offices would save taxpayers an estimated $12 million annually without any impact on our constituents. Unfortunately, the legislation has stalled in the General Assembly, where Speaker Madigan, who my opponent calls her “mentor,” has blocked its progress time and again. I will continue to back the legislation and work with lawmakers to build support.

The comptroller is responsible for auditing local governments. What role should the comptroller play in ensuring Illinois’ local government structure is efficient?
Answer from Leslie Geissler Munger:

The Comptroller’s Office collects more than 9,200 financial reports from municipalities, counties and special taxing districts in every part of the state. As Comptroller, I have focused on stronger communication with local entities to ensure that deadlines are met, and greater scrutiny of all financial filings. Those efforts have resulted in a 99.6 percent audit compliance rate.

 

Upon taking office, I implemented a compliance process that ensured all municipalities received written and verbal warnings as the due dates approached for their financial filings. At the same time, I directed our Local Government Division to conduct independent audits of all chronically delinquent communities. And we implemented a policy requiring all governments with “adverse” audit opinions to resubmit their reports with a corrective action plan. As a result, all government audits today are either in compliance or been assigned outside auditors by the state – and there were only 22 “adverse” audits filed with the state last year, compared to more than 60 just three years ago.

 

All local filings, and a “comparison” feature allowing taxpayers to see how their government ranks against others, can be found at the local government “Warehouse,” at illinoiscomptroller.gov

 

 

We also have focused on educating local governments of best fiscal practices and partnered with the CPA Society to deliver a series of “Accountability in Action,” workshops for local leaders in every portion of the state. Taxpayers are best served when all units of government work together to deliver greater efficiency and accountability and I will look to build on the partnerships made move forward.

Videos (1)

— September 30, 2016 Chicago Sun-Times

Leslie Munger tells why she should remain the Illinois State Comptroller.

Candidate Contact Info

Democratic
Elected Official
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Be an independent truth-telling fiscal watchdog that prioritizes both the fiscal and moral health of the state. My top priority will be to continually serve and protect the most vulnerable populations in this State.
  • Work to enhance the overall internal control environment of the State in order to run a more effective, transparent and efficient office.
  • Broker needed fiscal stewardship measures across the Illinois state enterprise and leverage technological advances to make it more efficient and easier to maintain accountable stewardship of and control over funds.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Elected Official
Coordinator of business outreach, Chicago Department of Planning and Development (not availa–not availa)
Clerk, City of Chicago — Elected position (2011–current)
Member, Illinois House of Representatives — Elected position (2001–2011)

Education

Northeast Missouri State University (now called Truman State University) B.A., Business Administration (1994)

Questions & Answers

Questions from Chicago Sun-Times (8)

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 Susana Mendoza:

In my five years as Chicago City Clerk, we have implemented new policies and engineered a turnaround that has saved taxpayers millions of dollars, vastly improved customer service and created nearly $50 million dollars in new, sustainable revenue for the City. A City office once known for patronage and corruption is now a model for efficiency, transparency and smart government. I will apply my proven executive experience and management expertise to the Office of the Comptroller to better serve the people of Illinois.

 

The current fiscal crisis in Illinois will require careful and effective management as we work to stabilize the state’s finances. The goal will be providing for the common good while eliminating the practices that led to the financial crisis our state faces today.

 

 

I will tell Illinois leaders that it is imperative that all legislative and statewide leadership put partisan politics aside to examine the most comprehensive and effective fiscal strategies to bring about a financial recovery across the state. We’re all fully aware that the State is going through a horrific financial crisis, but rancorous talk alone will do nothing to solve it. True recovery can only start with cooperation and sensible solutions to end the budget stalemate. Leaders have a responsibility to act like adults, understand the crisis the state is in, present strategic plans, and in other words, get to work.

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 Susana Mendoza:

I unequivocally support the full funding of our State pensions. We must protect the promises made to our retirees and follow the state constitution as directed by the courts. That said, I will fiercely advocate against repeating any past practices that landed our pension system where it is today. We must ensure that our state pension system remains viable for current and future retirees, while at the same time ensure that funding for other critical programs, like education, does not get crowded out by our obligation to our pension system. We have to learn from the mistakes of the past. I will be a strong voice for long-term reform in this debate and work closely with leadership to make sure we are making decisions that are in the best interest of Illinois taxpayers.

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 Susana Mendoza:
The Comptroller’s decision to delay a $560 million pension payment in October of 2015, triggered a negative outlook warning from Moody’s Investors Services. Not only was the decision fiscally irresponsible, but, according to legislators who helped draft the original pension payment law, it’s illegal. The Comptroller’s office not only abdicated on the fiduciary duty to speak out against skipping payments, but actually led the charge to delay them.   Certainly the comptroller has an obligation to the pension holders of the state and I will advocate for fully funding our pensions. As comptroller, I will be a strong, independent and outspoken fiscal watchdog. There are serious financial consequences for mistakes and in this economic climate, there is no margin for error.
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 Susana Mendoza:

 

The comptroller’s duty is to determine priority of payments due, and the best way to do that is to be fully independent. That means not managing the State’s checkbook under the direction of the Governor, which is clearly the case today. I believe that the comptroller has a responsibility to prioritize both the fiscal and moral health of the State. My first priority will be to continually serve and protect the most vulnerable populations of this State, and not allow myself to be party to a political agenda that, for all intents and purposes, holds payments to the most vulnerable in our state hostage. I will not stand by quietly while child care or senior care workers have to fight for payments in the courts. Secondly, I will continue to encourage both sides to come to the table and negotiate in the best interests of the State. I believe common ground can be found and I will commit to being part of the solution. Too much is at stake for our future – and we are already seeing the damage from the budget stalemate from college students not returning to school because of a lack of MAP grant funding to families across the state having to decide between work or welfare because they cannot afford child care. Seniors are going hungry without food due to the cuts to Meals on Wheels. The current comptroller waited to be sued and threatened to be held in contempt of court before releasing payments to early childhood intervention service providers and developmentally disabled seniors.  This can only be described as shameful. I understand the State needs to get its fiscal house in order, but I know from experience as Chicago City Clerk that with vision and determination, we can transform government to better serve people while saving taxpayer dollars in the process.

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 Susana Mendoza:

The Turnaround Agenda, holding people hostage for non-budgetary agenda items is politics.  Proudly declaring to be the Governor’s “wingman” on his budget that hurts working families is politics.  Refusing to release payments that benefit the most vulnerable, including developmentally disabled children and seniors, until being forced to do so by the courts is politics at its worst.

 

By playing politics, our comptroller has marginalized those who don’t have a voice in Springfield, like the workers who sued her to keep the doors of their domestic violence shelters open.

 

Doing the right thing and putting people ahead of politics means protecting the most vulnerable: parents who rely on child care, the disabled, and seniors who participate in meals programs because it might be the only meal they get that day.

 

 

I won’t stand by while needy people are bullied for political gain.  We need an independent advocate in the Office of Comptroller to defend the State’s most vulnerable citizens. My priorities will be guided by a strong moral compass and they are consistent with the precedent that the courts have already set.

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 Susana Mendoza:

 

Small businesses play a vital role in the Illinois economy by employing a large number of residents and producing a substantial amount of tax revenue. In times of financial crises, small businesses do not have the liquidity of larger enterprises and are at greater risk of failure. In distressed communities the effects of a lost business and the subsequent unemployment of residents could be devastating. Therefore, in instances where the Comptroller’s office can assist struggling but viable small businesses in distressed communities, it is sound financial policy to do so.

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

When I ran for Chicago City Clerk in 2011, the Civic Federation called for merging the Office of the City Clerk with the Mayor’s Office.  They argued that the City Clerk could do nothing that the Mayor’s Office was not already capable of doing.  

 

Four years later the Civic Federation is no longer calling for the merger. Chicagoans have seen how, in just five years, I dramatically and successfully overhauled the Office of the City Clerk of Chicago to better serve them. Our 21st Century reboot of a City Sticker Program dating back to 1908, was lauded by both customers and national experts on innovation in government, and earned us the “Bright Idea Award” from Harvard University.  Our Office is now recognized for increasing access to City Council and City government. Unlike most government offices, I have led the charge of doing more with less. That means, streamlining systems, cutting overtime, and voluntarily coming in under budget year after year. I feel a strong responsibility to protect every tax dollar. As such, I have saved Chicagoans millions of dollars, all the while improving customer service. On top of that, we have generated nearly $50 million dollars in new, sustainable revenue for the City by eliminating fraud, increasing compliance, and running a more effective and efficient office.

 

Our independence in the Office of the City Clerk also allows me to serve as an advocate separate from the Mayor’s Office, a voice that residents value. We have passed landmark legislation to protect animals and new laws that protect consumers. I proved I could turn a long-criticized office into one that is valued by residents and I know I can do the same for the Comptroller’s Office.

 

Additionally, I support the concepts behind the creation of the Comptroller’s Office during the 1970 state constitutional convention. As a result of the conviction for embezzlement that occurred in the Office of the Auditor of Public Accounts under Orville Hodge in 1956, the Comptroller’s Office was created in part to provide a firewall between the separate functions of investing the State’s monies and paying the State’s bills. Furthermore, an office that serves as an advocate and fiscal watchdog is important for the people of Illinois. I have a record of successfully saving taxpayer dollars, providing better customer service and finding efficiencies where others turned a blind eye. If, after implementing significant reforms to the Office of the Comptroller, I determine that a merger would be better for the State of Illinois and for taxpayers, I would support that. At this moment in time, while our State is going through it’s worst financial crisis, and people are literally being left behind, an independent advocate for taxpayers in the comptroller is needed more than ever before.

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

As Comptroller, I would advocate for the consolidation of some layers of local government. Illinois has more elected offices, such as highway districts and townships, than any other state and there are opportunities for consolidation and savings.

 

The Comptroller also plays an important role in the overall accountability continuum by ensuring our local governments also demonstrate appropriate levels of stewardship to their stakeholders. I intend to shine a brighter light on this important aspect of the Office.

 

 

The Comptroller has a duty to use objective oversight and careful monitoring of local governments to ensure that wasteful practices and spending are avoided. Bad operators should be signaled out and required to follow best practices. Ineffective services and spending, even in the smallest of local governments, can quickly lead to greater deficit problems for other communities.

 

Videos (1)

— September 30, 2016 Chicago Sun-Times

Susana Mendoza tells why she should be the Illinois State Comptroller.

Candidate Contact Info

Libertarian
Accountant
Use tab to activate the candidate button. Use "return" to select this candidate. You can access your list by navigating to 'My Choices'.
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • 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.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Accountant
Accountant, U.S. Cellular (2014–current)
Regional Accountant, First Industrial Real Estate (2006–2014)

Education

Keller School of Management Master's, Accounting and Finance (2009)
DeVry University Bachelor's, Accounting and Finance (2006)

Community Activities

Member, College of DuPage Budget Committee (2015–2016)

Biography

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.

Who supports this candidate?

Questions & Answers

Questions from Chicago Sun-Times (8)

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

Videos (1)

— September 30, 2016 Chicago Sun-Times

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

Candidate Contact Info

Email info@ClaireBallForIllinois.com
Phone: (630) 344-9622
Green
Union Organizer
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Experience

Experience

Profession:Union Organizer
Member, United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America Local 925 (1974–2015)
International Representative, United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America Local 925 (1987–2012)
Field Organizer, United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America Local 925 (1977–1987)

Education

Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis Bachelor's (1974)

Videos (1)

— September 30, 2016 Chicago Sun-Times

Tim Curtin tells why he should be the Illinois State Comptroller.

Candidate Contact Info

Email curtin4comptroller@gmail.com
Phone: 708-837-7366

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