Mike Frerichs. Problem Solved.
  • Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times Media
  • Mike Frerichs. Problem Solved.

Someone needs to be appointed Illinois comptroller to succeed the late Judy Baar Topinka, who died suddenly this week. The situation is perplexing.

“In our view,” said the editorial page of Friday’s Sun-Times, respecting the wishes of the voters “would require outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn to appoint a comptroller to oversee the office for the remaining few weeks of Topinka’s current term. Then in January, Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner would appoint a comptroller—presumably a Republican, like Topinka—for the new term that starts Jan. 12.”

But should an unelected comptroller run that office for what would have been Topinka’s entire next term? The Sun-Times went on to recommend that governor-elect Bruce Rauner call a special election for November 2016.

Here’s another question. Why elect a comptroller at all? Here’s what the Tribune had to say earlier this year in an editorial endorsing Topinka for reelection and Republican Tom Cross for state treasurer:

What do the Illinois treasurer and comptroller actually do . . . ? The treasurer invests taxpayer money after it’s collected but before it gets spent. The comptroller controls the state’s main checking account and pays the bills.

We, along with dozens of lawmakers, have called for the two offices to be combined. That would save roughly $12 million a year.

The Illinois Senate in 2011 voted 55-0 to pass a constitutional amendment that would combine the offices. But House Democrats, led by Speaker Michael Madigan, blocked that measure from coming to a vote on the House floor.

There you go. One more maddening example of how the Madigan stranglehold on the House wastes your money and protects the status quo.

Cross wasn’t elected. He lost a squeaker to Mike Frerichs. I’m not sure what the state constitution has to say on the subject, but in a sensible world one governor or the other would appoint Frerichs comptroller too. It would be an elegant way to save millions of dollars, and during the four years of Frerich’s double term, Illinois could amend its constitution to make the arrangement permanent.