Name: Claire Ball
Office seeking: Illinois Comptroller
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City of residence: Addison
Campaign website: www.ClaireBallForIllinois.com
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? In the 200 year history of Illinois, we have never had an accountant in the office of the Comptroller - and that is a problem. Illinois has the worst credit rating in the nation, financial reports that are issued late every year, and billions of dollars in unpaid bills. These problems are not new either; they have developed over years of bad budgeting, money mismanagement, and a disregard for the citizens of the state. I am running to do the job of Comptroller, and not start or build upon a political career. My focus is on releasing financial reports on time, auditing municipalities’ finances to keep them in order to help identify possible fraud, and establish clear criteria around the payment process so there is no question why one vendor was paid over another. As an accountant, I will advocate for financially sound policy. As a Libertarian, I will speak out against politically motivated decisions, regardless of political affiliation. Being a Libertarian puts me in the best position to speak honestly and objectively – I don’t care what letter follows your name, if you play games with our money I will call you out on it. That is why people should vote for me.
What qualifications do you have for this position? I am the only candidate truly qualified for the Chief Financial Officer of Illinois, Illinois Comptroller. I am a Certified Public Accountant with a master’s degree in accounting and finance and over 12 years’ experience. If this were Google or Amazon looking for someone to fill this role in the private sector, I would be the only candidate to get a call back for an interview. It’s time we hold our state government to the same standards.
What is the most important issue facing the Comptroller’s office? How would you handle it? The biggest issue is the pension crisis. Illinois pensions consume nearly a quarter of the budget, and that number is only going to grow as politicians continue to push out the consequences of poor money management out into the future. Attempts at pension reform have done little to address the problem, and our elected officials continue the decade’s long trend of overly favorable budgeting assumptions coupled with long-term debt financing, which is what brought Illinois finances to where they are today. This will only serve to shrink the pool of resources available to pay everything else, and it will become more and more difficult for the Comptroller to simply pay the bills. As Comptroller, I will advocate for pension reforms, as well as to move management of our pension investments to an independent board, similar to the Canada Pension Plan. I will also review constitutional officer budgets and identify areas to cut waste in order to use those funds to pay into pensions or towards the bill backlog.
There is still a bill backlog of billions of dollars. How would you prioritize the state’s bill backlog? Prioritization of state bills should be based on objective and measurable criteria to hold the office accountable and provide real transparency. I will publish a Table of Priority that details how payments are processed when money is tight. Those with the greatest need and the most limited resources to function otherwise would get top priority, such as social service organizations and small businesses. I will also speak out against wasteful spending in state legislative bills and identify areas within the Comptroller’s budget, as well as other constitutionally elected offices, where money can be saved to pay against the backlog.
Would you term limit yourself? If so, how many terms? No, I wouldn’t. I fully believe in term limits, and will advocate for them whenever possible, but I will not term limit myself just to make a point. We have never had an accountant in the office of Comptroller, never had anyone focused exclusively on the job of Comptroller, and there are a lot of process improvements that can be made within the office. I want the office to be both a resource to local municipalities and an auditor, confirming the financials are correct. I want the office to be entirely objective in all decisions, based on measurable criteria, with the focus on the job of financial CFO and never the politics. It is what the people of Illinois deserve, and if I am accomplishing those goals then my time is better used continuing that then term limiting myself. Let the people decide.