Editorials

Lonely treasurer could channel Topinka

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs

Illinois State Treasurer Mike Frerichs, a Democrat from Champaign, talks about the state budget crisis while in Belleville.
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Illinois State Treasurer Mike Frerichs, a Democrat from Champaign, talks about the state budget crisis while in Belleville.

Illinois State Treasurer Mike Frerichs was in Belleville last week wishing he had a greater role in resolving the state budget impasse, or what is best characterized as Illinois Held Hostage: Day 183.

Frerichs, a Democrat from Champaign, is in charge of investing state funds. Without a state budget, he really doesn’t have any funds to invest. Without any funds, he doesn’t really have a job to do.

Which brings up the point that Frerichs really shouldn’t have a job at all.

Judy Baar Topinka, the spunky Republican politician who served as both Illinois treasurer and comptroller, spent years pushing a proposal to combine those two jobs and save Illinois taxpayers $12 million annually. That may not be much in this land of $6 billion deficits, but they say a million here and a million there and pretty soon you’re talking real money.

Too bad Topinka didn’t make the proposal reality before she passed away, but she got several bipartisan bills introduced before they were lost in the statehouse morass. Her idea to combine two similar jobs and cut a few state workers from a pension system that is barely solvent is exactly the kind of leadership lacking in Springfield.

So if Frerichs needs more to do, he could pick up the work of Topinka and eliminate his own job. Seems like the perfect role for a financial guardian to first save before investing.

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