Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka had a long, accomplished political career and nothing left to prove. At age 70 she easily could have decided to retire when her term ended in January. Instead, she ran again, and won, because she said there was unfinished business she still wanted to accomplish.
One piece of unfinished business she talked about was combining the comptroller’s and treasurer’s office, a move that would save taxpayers an estimated $12 million a year. Doing so would require changing the state Constitution. She wanted lawmakers to put the question to the voters. “I think it can get on the ballot next time, despite the minions of (speaker of the House) Mike Madigan,” she told the Chicago area Daily Herald in September. “I can be a horrendous nag.”
Topinka died this week after suffering a stroke, so she won’t be around to nag lawmakers to take this fiscally responsible step. But we hope they will still hear her voice in their ear: that saving money is the same thing as making money -- even better, because it doesn’t require government to wring more money out of the taxpayers.
If all the politicians, Democrats and Republicans, who are lauding Topinka want to truly pay tribute to her memory, they will ensure that there is a vote to put this measure on the ballot in the next election. Also, outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn should wait to let governor-elect Bruce Rauner, a Republican who shares Topinka’s fiscally conservative views, appoint her replacement.