“My only special interest is you!”
Claire Ball is a 34 year old homeowner with a Master's Degree in Accounting & Finance and a CPA. She is married and the proud parent of two cats. read more
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Two of Four Comptroller Candidates ó Bishop On Air
Earlier this morning, I spoke with Greg Bishop on his program Bishop On Air on News/Talk 94.7 & 970 WMAY. Right after our discussion, you can hear Republican Munger give her thoughts as well, as see just how drastically we differ in opinions.
Forum: Illinois Comptroller Candidates
Behold the debate between the Democrat and Republican challengers for Comptroller. They debated about their party independence and Trump, which has what to do with the Comptroller? Right. Nothing. Neither I, nor my Green party co-competitor, were included, even after several inquiries from both sides.
I will say, however, both are very fast and it went back and forth quite a bit. I would really have to work on my debating chops, particularly in cutting off and talking over others. I'm too dang polite, and that doesn't fly in debates.
The Illinois Pension Disaster: What Went Wrong?
Here is an extremely well-detailed article about the many moves of our elected officials and general assembly that created our current pension problem. It takes no political sides, and discusses the intentions and ramifications of every pension-related decision over the last thirty years, proving two things to me. 1) Both sides of our political powerhouse are to blame for the looming debts we face, and 2) there were not enough financial minds involved in the details. Pension plans are complicated in general, which is why you should always use the tools and resources that accountants and actuaries provide. We study these things in order to make the most educated and informed decisions. Our elected officials pushed legislation through that had a ripple effect of terrible consequences for all of us, and not only do they continue to make these bad decisions, they won't even take responsibility for the repercussions.
Michael Frerichs: Diversity Equals Better Financial Decisions
Michael Frerichs is absolutely right - diversity makes for better financial decisions. How about we diversify our current political climate in Illinois? Bring some fresh and new perspectives in from Libertarians and other 3rd parties. How about we go bold and bring an accountant in to make the financial decisions in the Comptroller's office (AKA the accounting department)?
Comptroller hasn't released Downstate transit funds since January, putting systems at risk of closure
According to the Comptroller's office, the oldest vouchers they have waiting for the downstate transit funds are from August. The West Central Mass Transit District states, however, that they're owed money from January on. With no visibility into the process, we have no way of knowing who is right or where exactly these entities are in process of getting paid. I want to fix that by bringing the accounting standards up to the same quality as private companies. I want to issue reports that show where vendors are in the payment queue, so all of you can check that against an established table of priority. That way everyone can follow when they will be paid and call the Comptroller's office out on any deviations from that schedule. Accountability, you dig?
Andy Shaw: Playing dodge ball in candidate questionnaires
Playing dodge ball with questions is an Olympic sport in Illinois politics, and politics in general. A good politician can fill up pages and pages, or minutes and minutes, and tell you absolutely nothing. If you're not paying attention, you might walk away feeling good about the exchange. If you're not used to it, you might walk away feeling vaguely uneasy but unsure as to why. When you're really paying attention, you can see through it like a recently cleaned window.
I like to actually answer the question (unless it's something ridiculous like "who will build the roads?") and strive to provide content, not fluff. Not mentioned in this article is that I am against merging the offices of Comptroller and Treasurer, but if you read the questionnaire, I'll give you solid reasons for why. That's what Libertarians do.
Mihalopoulos: Donations at odds with Mendoza's labor message
The legal definition of a donation is "a transfer of property...that does not have a sufficient reciprocal consideration..." meaning you don't get anything in return for it. One of the problems with the established parties is that donations received are considered deposits for services to be provided later. No thank you. For me, a donation I make is because I believe in the cause or action and believe that this entity will use it towards that purpose. That's it. No 'this for that' reciprocal. So you can guess how I view all the donations made to my campaign (of which I am supremely grateful for)?
Munger vs. Mendoza: A tale of two careers, property tax bills
So Democrat Mendoza will receive a multi-million dollar pension when she retires, on the backs of all of us. I'm sure Republican Munger will be equally well off for her retirement, both from her own investments and those of her lawyer husband. Both are pointing at each other, rather than working to lessen the debt load for everyone in Illinois. The media is keen to report on the catfight rather than the office up for election. I want to clean up the finances, allowing greater visibility into what our government is doing, and greater accountability into why they are doing it.
Illinois bond documents warn of delay in pension fund contributions
Well this won't look good for our bond rating.
NEWSVIEWS: ILLINOIS COMPTROLLER RACE
Not to be left behind in the 'ignore-your-3rd-parties' race, ABC7 took a few minutes to interview Democrat Mendoza and Republican Munger. They attack each other and talk about their independence, per the course. They have a link to the Voter's Edge within this article, however, which I provided answers for and am actually the first one presented! Check it out.
Western Illinois transit district to cease operations because of state's budget problems
If you look into the stopgap budget that was passed all those months ago, you would find a variety of money appropriated for the various areas of Illinois government, with millions and millions going to the Secretary of State, for building and renovations. This could have been there instead. This should have been there instead.
In Their Own Words: Illinois Comptroller Questionnaire - 2016
Reboot Illinois and the Better Government Association put together a Comptroller Candidates Questionnaire, and gave all four of us equal representation. Please take a look and our answers and tell me which one actually answers the questions?
Efforts to save River Valley may be too little, too late
In a proper Fund Accounting system this would not happen. The downstate transportation fund should have been getting funded through the sales tax revenue throughout the past year, regardless of if there is a budget. This is the type of issue I would have raised months ago, and I seriously want to dig into every other fund we have out there and see how they are supposed to be getting funded and how they're actually getting funded. This is why you need an accountant doing the accounting.
River Valley says it may shut down if the state doesn't dole out tax
I would like to know why the Comptroller's office has been holding onto sales tax revenue that belongs to the downstate transportation fund. As I've said in the past, funds designated for a specific purpose need to be used for that specific purpose. Just because there is cash in one fund does not mean you can use it to cover another fund!
Doubek: No point in voting? Hardly
Great article by Madeleine Doubek about how important it is to vote this election. The one, big, glaring, obvious error? Absolutely no mention of your Libertarian candidates for any office.
Absolutely no mention of the only qualified candidate, the only truly independent candidate for IL Comptroller.
I did take part in the questionnaire they mention though, so that's something.
Top 10 contested state races each now have $2M plus war chests
The way money is juggled and moved around in this state is mind-boggling. It's perfectly legal, and perfectly acceptable by our impartial media, as deplorable as it seems to me. I don't have $2M plus in my war chest. I have used the donations from all of you (thank you) to promote my candidacy, and what's left in my war chest is currently squished under my cat, because I opened a box in his presence.
State behind in payments to residents owed money in legal claims
Wait a minute...did the Comptroller spokesmen actually say the Comptroller doesn't make any decisions on who gets paid and who doesn't? ... Well, I guess all this focus on who the Comptroller is paying, from the Tribune, the Sun-Times etc. etc. is moot! We can all go home! Or maybe we can look to see if vouchers were sent to pay these individuals (my gut says they were), and then ask why they haven't been paid for over a year? That doesn't speak to the 'first-in first-out' rationale the Comptroller is saying she uses. If only there were transparency around this process, then we could know for sure...
Munger has proved she's right for comptroller job
Oh my stars!!!! They used the A word in this article!! They called it an Accounting job!!
Up until now the media has steadfastly refused to use that word in the context of the job, because then people might ask or assume that the person in charge is an accountant. "Wait, it's not? No? How about the Democrat? Really? But it's an accounting job, right?"
Yes, yes it is. Don't let anyone wrap it up in a "leadership" or "political" bow - the Comptroller is responsible for the financial reporting and payment authorization of the state of Illinois.
I give Republican Munger a nod for reducing expenditures and touching on the antiquated computer systems, but this legislative approach she's taking to campaigning shows her real desire is elsewhere in state government - like the State Rep. campaign she ran before being appointed. The real issues within the Comptroller's office, the late financial reports and lack of transparency in the payment process for one and two, continue. The only way to change them is to elect someone who does not want to delve further into the political arena, but instead wants to do the job of state accountant. That would be me.
Comptroller warns state could delay employee pension contribution due to Rauner-Madigan impasse
So the state's monthly contribution to the pension plan might get delayed again, just as it did last October. The payment was made whole the following April, with cash from property tax payments (so 'we the people' saved the day again). We're basically paying last year's obligations with this year's revenues. It's not a good tactic in business, and it's certainly not a good tactic in state government.
They mention the stopgap appropriations bill in this one, but do not touch on the fact that our legislators could have included monthly payment of the pension obligations in that very bill. Perhaps there wasn't enough money? Well, by delaying building construction and renovations for the Secretary of State's office (several million appropriated for that), they surely could have. But we need brand new buildings, right? To...keep government...from shutting down...?
Claire Ball: Candidate Profile
The Daily Herald released the candidate surveys for my race, check out mine! I'm pretty sure I gave them my twitter and Facebook handles, but you can get to them through my website regardless.
GOP poised to gain a few Illinois statehouse seats, but little will change
This article has little to do with the Comptroller's race, but is worth reading as it speaks more broadly about the elections throughout the state and how little will change after Nov. 8th. You know what would really change things? Voting 3rd party (Iím partial to Libertarian myself). Refuse to accept the myths promoted by those in charge and vote for qualified candidates that want to work for YOU, and not a Party. I've spoken to enough people to know that we are all sick of the games they play. They are two sides of the same coin, pushing agendas that help the Party and not the People, and keeping good, qualified individuals from opposing them. I am qualified to work for YOU. I want to work for YOU.
SCHAKOWSKY husband under fire - OBAMA cuts DUCKWORTH ad - MUNGER, MENDOZA trade donation outrage
In the final weeks leading up to the election both Democrat Mendoza and Republican Munger are now trading barbs about unethical acceptance of political contributions and how they should be returned. Please note that neither one will concede anything about the allegation. It's more of a "don't look at me, look at her!" I say don't look at either - vote squarely for the Accountant with the L next to her name on that ballot.
Comptroller's race heats up as Munger cashes in
This article talks about the money dump in the Comptroller's election, and includes Republican Munger and Democrat Mendoza's campaign ads (currently on air for those of you that actually have cable). "No Budget No Pay" has nothing to do with the Comptroller's office, but it's a great buzzword coming from a marketing executive. "What's a Comptroller?" doesn't actually tell you what the Comptroller's office does. Neither ad explains why Republican Munger or Democrat Mendoza is qualified for the job, but that's because it's hard to say you're qualified to be running the state's accounting department when you don't have an educational background or work experience IN ACCOUNTING.
I love how blasé the media is about Republican Munger first removing the contribution caps, then funneling $3M to the Republican party. "Oh yeah, they (R's and D's) do it all the time, perfectly legal." Sure it's legal, but that doesn't make it ethical.
Illinois Politicians Rally To Get Voters To Cast Ballots
Democrat Mendoza was out with others of her party drumming up support for voters to actually vote. She said "vote blue no matter who" and completely lost me. The established parties no longer hold the values of the people, evidenced by the current and long growing dissatisfaction in each election cycle. This catchphrase is the cause. Look past party affiliation and vote for qualified, not for party.
Vote blue - no matter who, Vote red - because they said, vote green in 2016.
But ok, fine. We can do this too.
Vote gold - we don't fluctuate with changes to the monetary policy! Hm...needs better flow.
Vote gold - we offer qualified candidates that stick to their values in support of smaller government! ...
The problem is we Libertarians like to give reasons and logic behind why you should vote for us, and that's difficult to put on a bumper sticker...I think I've got it though...
BE BOLD - VOTE GOLD
Munger pushes upgrading state financial systems
The computer systems used by the state absolutely need to be upgraded, and some actual transparency tools created for the websites. The current online checkbook gives no detail, just vendor, dollar amount, and date paid. A good accounting Information System would include links to each invoice that was paid, and detail on the approval flow if desired. With an accounting background, I can ensure that the systems put into place would include adequate internal controls around authorization and record keeping, with plenty of detail available to the people footing the bills - the people of Illinois.
First things first, put an accountant in the accounting office of the state. Then a new accounting system.
Munger campaign transfers $3 million to state GOP
Hey, remember when Republican Munger blew the caps off the Comptroller race for the first time in history when her husband loaned $260K to her campaign? Remember how just a couple days later she received $3M in donations from two big mega-donors? Well guess what! She's sent $3M of her $5M pot over to the Republican party! How nice, to share her donations so they can be funneled into other races. The timing is so funny - you'd think it was planned! ...
Right here is one of the many reasons why I am not a Republican or a Democrat (they do it just as much).
EDITORIAL BOARD QUESTIONNAIRES
While I still have hopes the Chicago Tribune may endorse this truly independent libertarian accountant for the role of IL Comptroller, I want to share with you my survey with the Tribune that is published on their site. I tried to keep my answers as short and to the point as possible.
How Mendoza could make life miserable for Rauner
In this article, Rich Miller muses about the various ways Democrat Mendoza could fight against Gov. Rauner if she becomes Comptroller, along with the various ways Republican Munger has worked with Gov. Rauner. He's not wrong on either side. Indeed, the influence of being in charge of the finances is why the SEC has such strict guidelines around the accounting and auditing of publicly traded companies. If the head of accounting doesn't like you (or...say...your party) they can most definitely make your life miserable. If you're their best friend you can count on smooth sailing. Neither of which is helpful for reporting the honest financial facts. Both the SEC's rules and those of the AICPA (for private companies) stress controls that emphasize independence and neutrality in all functions surrounding accounting. I have lived and breathed those rules from college on, and I've got the background to prove it.
So let's take the musing out of this election. Vote for the only independent and qualified candidate for Comptroller. Me, Claire Ball. The only reason I'll make life miserable is if you're not working for the people who elected you.
Comptroller Munger Talks Relationship with Rauner, Campaign
Republican Munger said, in response to criticism received from Democrat Mendoza, that she doesn't have a vote and can't tell anyone what to do. That she can "only manage [her] own office." This is true.
The Comptroller could explain why political bloggers and lobbyist firms have been paid during the budget impasse, and why $4.1M in bonus payments went out the door on August 31st. The Comptroller could also explain why $1.7M in payments to refugee relocation firms were fast-tracked (AKA paid out ASAP), also during this budget impasse.
The Comptroller could get the financial reports out on time. The Comptroller could release spending reports that both tie back payout to budgets, so there is accountability surrounding those budgeted dollars, and highlight big expenditures and unbudgeted expenditures. The Comptroller could dig into the lower level governmental reporting and issue reports on what is going on at the county or district level.
The Comptroller could do all of these things within the purview of managing the office. But does not.
Instead, the Comptroller pushes a legislative proposal that has nothing to do with the office, and one that she cannot vote on nor introduce onto the floor.
Can we get back to the office of Comptroller please?
I will manage the office of Comptroller, and report to you where every dollar is going and why.
Morning Spin: Emanuel, Mendoza try for two-fer on mentoring money
I don't know how they can praise themselves for playing accounting games with money. Fund accounting designates funds for specific use - the dollars we paid in tolls should only be spent on highway repairs, parking fees should only be spent on street repair, things like that. With regular companies you can see how well they are doing, generally, by their profits against targets. With not-for-profit and governmental entities, since there is no profit to watch, we can measure how well they are performing against stated targets by following the activities in each fund. So when you start moving money around between funds like this to pay for other things, it decreases our ability to measure the performance of that unit, that segment, that component of our government. This ruffles the accounting feathers and is not supported by the accounting standards for governments.
You can put a pretty name on it that everyone will get behind (who wouldn't want to support youth mentoring programs!) but you're still playing games with taxpayer money. You want to support youth mentoring? Create a fund for it and don't use the money for something else.
Donation lifts fundraising caps in Illinois comptroller race
I think most of us have heard about the caps on donations getting blown out of the water in the Comptroller race, but I had to comment on it just the same. For those of you who haven't, check out this article on the $260K loan Republican Munger's husband made to her campaign. Democrat Mendoza was quick to bash the move and tie it to Rauner, carefully avoiding any mention of the $1.7M she has accumulated in her campaign coffers.
Can you imagine how many of our backlogged bills could be paid with that money?
Munger gets $5M, putting race on track to be No. 1 in spending
Well, with $5.7 million in Republican Munger's wallet and $1.7 million in Democrat Mendoza's wallet we are sure to have the best Comptroller money can buy!
Candidate Survey - Voter's Edge Illinois
Voter's Edge Illinois is a great site to get some general information on a variety of candidates. Here's the link to the Comptroller page, where you can read up on me and my co-candidates. I like this survey because all of - you - get to read our answers, and not just the few that wrote the questions. You know, I thought my answers were long, but compared to my co-candidates I feel pretty concise!!
Rep. McDermed talks state politics at 'pizza town hall'
Honestly, Democrats and Republicans are waiting for November 8th to see if they get more power, so they can steamroll their changes through. The stop gap budget that was passed was only to get us past the election (sure it ends in January, because if it ended on Nov. 9th that might be a little telling). It's the tug o' war between the two parties and if the balance of power stays the same, their decisions will stay the same. Both parties are waiting to see what the voters do on November 8th. Show them who's boss, vote Libertarian for some real change.
Mendoza responds, calls Munger a Rauner "lap dog" - Munger wants Mendoza to give up a pension
One of the great things about the Republicans and Democrats is that they make a fantastic case for the Libertarian. Rather than discussing the office of the Comptroller's duties and responsibilities, and which candidate is the best fit for it, the media has been reporting on Munger blasting Mendoza for receiving two pensions, and Mendoza blasting Munger for denying her campaign chair is Elizabeth Brandt. Mendoza says Munger is not independent, Munger says Mendoza is not independent.
Neither one is wrong! Vote Claire Ball for Illinois Comptroller!
Rauner, Madigan, Trump Dominate Illinois U.S. Senate, Comptroller Races
The mud you see being slung between Democrat Mendoza and Republican Munger is political and fails to address the actual problems in the office - lack of transparency, accountability and integrity. This is a financial position, requiring experience and independence. Financial reports are issued late every year; lacking the information for Illinois taxpayers to make informed judgments on the health of their state. We have to FOIA request any level of detail on payments, and that tells us nothing as to the why behind them. Budgets, and decision-making in general, are about as clear as cake batter. Illinois needs a real accountant with actual independence. Mendoza has worked over 12 years as a politician under the Democrat ticket and will not speak out against her party. Munger is a marketing executive appointed by the Republican Governor and will not speak out against her party. This is not mud - it is honest fact.
I am an accountant and Libertarian. Qualified and independent. Also honest fact.
Illinois comptroller candidates debate pensions, spending
The extent the media goes to ignore 3rd parties is hilariously terrible. The first line in this article references the $4.1 million in bonus payouts that yours truly brought up, but my name isn't stated until the last line. Sure I participated - but you wouldn't know it from our lovely media. Ugh.
Comptroller hopefuls wrangle over pensions, state spending
I had my second group endorsement interview at The Chicago Sun-Times last week. It was more of the same Munger vs. Mendoza, with each pointing fingers at the other. I spoke less at this interview then the Tribune, and it was very clear they only included me and the Green party candidate because they had to (lest we accuse them of favoritism) and not because they wanted to. Tim Curtin was able to speak twice during the whole thing, and while they excluded me from the online photos, they really couldn't exclude me from the article since I brought up the fact that the Comptroller's office paid $4.1 million to IDOT employees for bonuses, and that got their attention.
As I said during the interview (which they don't mention), I have nothing against people getting paid for their work, but during the housing market crash that started in 2008 many, many, many people received neither raises nor bonuses as companies had to fight to survive. This state is struggling to survive, and that $4.1 million could have helped many of our social service providers keep their doors open.
I also took issue with the Comptroller's response - that she didn't know because she doesn't have that level of detail. Excuse me but that is exactly the detail the Comptroller receives so the payments can be authorized. Even without it, a simple comparison of payment between last period and this period per department would have shown a variance of $4.1 million, to which a simple inquiry to the transportation department would have provided you your answer.
This type of analytic can be done by a lower level within the comptroller's office to save time and provided to the Comptroller for review before final payout. This is the type of scrutiny I want to establish, and you can bet I would have informed the people of Illinois that this payout was happening, so they could call their legislators and ask why bonuses are being paid out when the state has no money. Perhaps this is just more of that "radical accounting" talk they don't want to hear about. I don't know, I didn't get to ask.
Another credit rating cut for Illinois as political impasse continues
Rampant mismanagement from all sides - sounds like a job for an accountant!
Hillary's Historic Nomination?
|The women at Reason take a stab at Hillary's historic nomination, and it's golden..!|
Illinois Denies First Amendment Rights to Medical Marijuana Businesses
Our lawyers from the Liberty Justice Center and the Pillar of Law Institute filed a motion for a summary judgement on our Freedom of Speech lawsuit with the state of Illinois, Ball vs Madigan, which also includes Scott Schluter for Liberty, to allow medical marijuana growers and dispensaries to make campaign contributions. Reason Magazine's Brian Doherty covered the latest development here...
Libertarians Pick Gary Johnson and William Weld as Presidential Election Ticket
The Libertarian national convention was this past weekend in Florida, and our official picks for president and vice-president are Gary Johnson and William Weld. I am excited for this pair and for the up-coming election. I believe both will work hard to show people they don't have to stay home on Election Day, and that Libertarian candidates are a viable and downright smart option. The democratic process was in full swing this Memorial Day weekend with a lot of humor and a lot of frustration by a lot of people who care an awful lot. Let's build on this and keep the momentum going all the way to November 7th.
Editorial: Delay the pay for Illinois politicians? Nothing else has worked.
I wish I had more enthusiasm for this move, but unfortunately this sending of lawmaker paychecks into the same queue as everyone else feels very political. It doesn't affect the core group that are refusing to work together to end this mess (Rauner, Madigan and three others), and I question why these paychecks were made priority to begin with.
This step taken is not so much "dramatic" as it is political - and out of all the people I've spoken to about it, the only ones that don't seem to see that are the media. The state's top accounting job should not be making moves based on political intent.
Illinois politicians stage a proxy war, and residents flee
John Kass is really excited about Comptroller Munger's throwing of General Assembly members and Officer's paychecks into the same queue as everyone else. I beg to differ with his assessment of it being the "best good government idea ... since the invention of the federal grand jury" and here's why - it doesn't affect the politicians holding the budget process hostage. The five people that were supposed to agree on a balanced budget (Mike Madigan, Bruce Rauner, John Cullerton, Jim Durkin, Christine Radogno) won't be impacted as they all have money coming in from other sources.
This is a political stunt and it shouldn't be. It should have been standard operating procedure from the start of the impasse and not some acrobatic feat trumpeted across the plains ten months later. Vote libertarian.
Illinois comptroller: Agencies closing 'every day'
I would not be touring the facilities of those serving people in need. I would not hold press conferences to showcase those places in fear of closure because they're not getting paid. I would not refrain from speaking out against one political side or the other.
I would become known by both parties as that "annoying blonde who won't play ball." I am the ball folks, and I'm purely in the taxpayers' court.
ILLINOIS COMPTROLLER: 'WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER, WE ALL WILL WAIT IN LINE.'
Astonished that she's only doing this now. Ten months into the impasse, and after visiting dozens of facilities in true need of their funding, and now she makes this call. This would have been my first order of business on July 2nd with no fanfare or warning. And the praise from other legislators? That just serves to solidify my suspicions that this is nothing more than a PR move with this great game of chess – no flustering or "come again's?" or any of the other basic reactions people might have to hearing their paychecks would be delayed.
Don't tap too hard on this one folks, it's a bit hollow.
Sorry there's just $100 for $7,000 in bills
I would certainly like to hear "I'm sorry I prioritized General Assembly and State Officer paychecks over your checks this last ten months" but doubt it's coming. I wouldn't have to make that apology as I would not prioritize their pay without a court order.
Comptroller says Illinois lawmakers will have to get in a long line to get paid
Comptroller Munger has announced that compensation for the General Assembly and Constitutional Officers will – now – be thrown into the same queue as everyone else and paid out in the same two-month timeframe rather than getting priority. She hopes it will help the GA and Officers feel what it's like to have to wait.
Except that it won't affect the individuals actually responsible for the budget mess. Gov. Rauner runs a private equity business and Speaker Madigan has a law firm specializing in property tax appeals. Cullerton and Durkin are each partners in law firms and I don't know what Radogno does but I don't imagine she'll be fazed either. Once again this political move is obvious and shouldn't be coming from the State's top accounting position.
Brown: Disabled group home residents still stuck in budget limbo
I have known people with severe disabilities, and for many of them, routine is essential. There is comfort in repetition, in knowing that things will proceed in a known and ordered way. To move these five individuals may be very traumatic for them and that we are hearing about this because five elected bureaucrats refuse to work for us and bring a balanced budget is shameful. Stop voting in people with Politics on their mind and start voting in people with Principles on their mind.
Libertarian Candidate for Comptroller Claire Ball – Bishop On Air
If you missed it, here was my appearance on Bishop On Air with Greg Bishop at News/Talk 970 WMAY in Springfield.
Remembering Mark Agnini
Mark was my biggest supporter; he gave me my first donation for both my COD race and my current Comptroller race, he always had kind words of encouragement for me, he worked on my campaigns, and he believed in me. I will greatly miss him.
Creekside with Don and Jan, Episode 163
Check out this interview I did live at the convention with Jan and Don from the Owl Creek Gazette for their podcast Creekside with Don and Jan. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this year's convention a success!
Meet Libertarian Candidate for IL Comptroller Claire Ball
This is my latest interview with the Illinois Herald, where I talk about my qualifications for running for office, and my plans and ideas that I plan to implement to help make Illinois more responsible and accountable to the taxpayers.
Illinois Libertarian Party Wins Court Victory for Easier Ballot Access
Reason magazine covered our recent court victory here in Illinois…
The 25 Chicago Aldermen who voted for Corruption
The Illinois Herald reports on the Chicago city alderman and women who "voted 25-23 to strip the Inspector General of his powers to look at how each Council member spends the millions of dollars meant to staff their office and fix broken or aging infrastructure in each of their Wards." Talk about lack of accountability.
Backlog of billions and billions in bills
To me, the state legislators should always be looking for ways to reduce bloat and waste in government, and not just during one of far too many money crises. As it stands, Illinois government is like a chronic crash dieter – going to extremes to trim costs and then indulging to excess until the revenues run out. It's a teacup ride going around and around – and I'm nauseous and want to get off.
Munger Talks Fiscal State of the State
Comptroller Munger took to the media to talk about the continuing budget impasse and how they are still making payments but that it becomes a question of who to pay over others each day. I would like to know the why behind each payment decision, why pay this vendor over that one? What is the rationale? The problem is there isn't one. I will change that.
U.S. District Court Strikes Down Law Requiring New Parties to Run a Full Slate of Candidates
By eliminating the full slate requirement for third parties, it just got slightly easier for independent candidates to run for office in Illinois. Thank you to Julie Fox and the Libertarian Party of Illinois for fighting this over the past several years.
Comptroller again sounds alarm over budget impasse
There must be a restaurant she likes down there because Comptroller Munger is always in the Quad-Cities to talk up how much the state is hurting without a balanced budget. She spoke about the deeper hole the general assembly is digging for us ($10 to $12 billion at the end of fiscal year 2016) and was careful to dodge any mention that she might disagree with any of Rauner's proposals.
Comptroller: Taxpayers on hook for billions in unpaid bills and deficit
Taxpayers on the hook for our two-party system's unwillingness to work together? Again? I've got a better idea – how about we reduce the salaries of all general assembly members and those at the executive level of state government by 2% for each month that goes by without a balanced budget? How about 2% per week? I think it's time they deal with the consequences of their actions and not the taxpayers…
Rauner, GOP leaders want state takeover of Chicago schools
Governor Rauner, with support from Senate GOP leader Christine Radogno and House Republican leader Jim Dirkin, has proposed a "lifeline" for the city of Chicago – that the state take control over the financially troubled Chicago Public School system in order to help turn them around, citing the city's track record and that the system in place is "abysmal." Mayor Emanuel, along with Senate President John Cullerton, immediately opposed the idea, stating it was created to "distract from their own failures."
I think Chicago's public schools would best benefit from removing anyone with a political agenda from making decisions on their behalf. Real and lasting change isn't going to happen until you have people in charge who care more for the students and taxpayers than they do for party politics.
Illinois Retirement Savings Program Could Benefit 1.2 Million Workers
There is a state program in the works to provide a retirement savings program to Illinois workers. Basically, it requires employers that do not offer retirement options to automatically enroll their employees in a state managed fund (unless the employee opts out). The goal is to make it easier to save for retirement. The issue with retirement investing is not that it is inherently difficult to establish a savings fund. There are many options outside of employer offerings. The issue is that people usually cannot afford to sock away 6%, 3% or even 1% of their earnings on a regular basis. Here's a way to make it easier – cut down on government bloat and lesson the burden on everyone.
Comptroller Warns Lawmakers Again
Leslie Munger is on the road again to advertise how badly we're doing without a budget – in case we forgot about that whole budget impasse thing from last year. We the taxpayers do not need to hear how badly behind the state is. We can feel it, and we believe you. There are only five people in Illinois who need to be continually reminded of how badly we're doing – Madigan, Rauner, Cullerton, Durkin, and Radogno.
Knox County sues state for salaries
I'm a little confused by this one. Knox County is suing to receive 2/3rd of the salaries for the county's state attorney, the county's public defender and half the supervisor of assessment's salary. They want this money paid out from the personal property tax replacement fund which has nothing to do with their salaries. With all the financial woes hitting state and local services this fiscal year, and the partial salaries of three people are what is important to Knox County? I don't see the priority here.
Judge slaps restraining order on access to Topinka campaign money amid lawsuit by late Comptroller's son
Judy Baar Topinka's son filed suit against the chairwoman and treasurer of Topinka's "Citizens for Judy Baar Topinka" campaign fund last Christmas. It is alleged that the treasurer authorized payment for upwards of $80K to the chairwoman, Nancy Kimme, for personal expenses. Kimme denies the allegations, but the suit is progressing with a freeze put on the account until further notice. There are political overtones all over this one, and not simply because it relates to a campaign fund.
Illinois is getting into a sue-frenzy as of late, guaranteeing the continued employment of law firms throughout the state. At least there's one segment that doesn't have to worry about job security…
RAUNER ANNOUNCES ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY, PLEDGES TO HOLD THE LINE ON TURNAROUND AGENDA
Governor Rauner issued an executive order creating a new department to bring their highly outdated information systems up to 21st century standards. I am all for updating technology to bring more efficiency and fully believe the "antiquated" systems contribute to the many problems plaguing our state government. I am not at all for creating a new department purely to update them and especially not during a time when we are currently estimating a year-end bill backlog of over $10 billion. You don't need a new department to update the tech; I'm sure there are people within every existing department who handle IT that could be pulled in to handle this project.
And blaming the outdated IT systems for so many accounting and auditing errors? I don't think there would be so many if there were actually auditors and accountants in charge…
Lawsuit: Illinois owes interest on delayed lottery payments
The money to pay lottery winners was there, sitting with the Treasurer and accumulating interest until it was released with the appropriations bill late last year. That interest should be given to the lottery winners. It being tax season, I can't help but be annoyed by the fact that if they are paid this interest it will be taxed by the state. Even when you win, you lose…
Lottery winners, rebuffed in federal court, bring class action in Cook to collect interest on winnings
If you owed the state for outstanding taxes, they would add on interest and penalties that grow until you paid up. But we want them to play by the same rules? I'm sorry, you must not have heard – this is Illinois.
ILLINOIS $480-MILLION GO BOND GETS SOLID RECEPTION DESPITE BUDGET IMPASSE
The state managed to sell general obligation bonds last month at a decent interest rate, bringing in $480 million dollars to fuel our unbudgeted expenditures. Alan Schankel of Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, one of the companies that considered investing, said the bonds were attractive as the interest rate was higher than other bond offerings and "the state of Illinois isn't likely to default…because of its ability to generate revenue."
…I'd like to remind Mr. Schankel that this is Illinois we're talking about. We're not afraid to fly in the face of our constitution for seven months without a budget because we can't generate enough revenue to cover our expenses. What's a little payment default on top of that?
Mitchell tours fiscally strapped Richland
I love this idea. Rep. Mitchell proposed a bill that the Auditor General must certify that the budget is balanced each year or the Comptroller's office holds payment on all General Assembly members' salaries. This bill won't go anywhere, because it is asking the General Assembly to put a check and balance on themselves – not going to happen with our current political climate. One of the many reasons why we need to vote in real people who want to improve the state and not just their own standing or political party. Libertarians would vote for this bill and propose a dozen others like it, because it is a desperately needed check and balance on those who are running the state.
Illinois Auditor: Comptroller's Late Fund Transfers Total $1.6 Billion
In his final audit report, Auditor General William Holland gave a meek chronicle of the delayed fund transfers made from the Comptroller's office in the last fiscal year. I say meek, because to make transfers as many as 459 days past the deadline should receive immense scrutiny from the Auditor's office, and recommend immediate changes to correct the issue – instead, it is reported as nothing more than a side note. The problems surrounding Illinois' accounting, chronically late payments and reporting, do not simply stem from budgetary problems (although it is a serious contributing factor). Poor cash management decisions, which come from the Comptroller's office, can bring down even the most heavily funded firms. Perhaps if we had an Auditor General who is actually independent (a core requirement for auditing companies in the private sector) this issue would be getting the attention it needs.
Eleven more counties declared disaster areas; Convicted employee forfeits pension, may retain right to refund of contributions...
Read down a bit into this article and it talks about Governor Rauner's refusal to bail out Chicago without compromise and reform. Mayor Emanuel, who seems to be following the trend of classic Chicago mayoral leadership, immediately cried "think of the children" while citing the Chicago Public School system's decline. If the mayor had been thinking of the children in his years (and mayors past) in office, perhaps Chicago wouldn't be in such a dismal state today.
Interview with Libertarian US Senate Candidate Chris Michel
Chris Michel for US Senate did an interview for the Illinois Herald this month; check it out and see what his views are on all sorts of issues – how he is different from Duckworth and Kirk, but more importantly, how they are very much the same.
Making the D's and R's Behave Themselves
In case you missed it, this was my appearance on Libertarians Working For You last year in November about my campaign, my lawsuit with the state of Illinois, and ballot access. Thought it was worth sharing again.
MORE THAN 12,000 ILLINOIS GOVERNMENT RETIREES RECEIVE ANNUAL PENSIONS OVER $100,000
"53% of the over 213,000 state retirees in Illinois can expect to receive lifetime pension benefits of more than $1 million. By contrast, private-sector workers with average Social Security benefits will only receive approximately $400,000 in lifetime benefits."
ILLINOIS POLITICIANS OF ALL PERSUASIONS NEED TO START EMBRACING TRANSPARENCY AND END THE SECRECY
Transparency to Illinois politicians is merely a talking point to gain ground with the voters. Republicans and Democrats both speak of transparency, yet act with ambiguity at every turn. This is why you need to look past party designation towards 3rd parties, and Libertarians in particular. We are you, real and hardworking people who are sick and tired of the two-party games that do nothing to improve the state so we can improve ourselves. You know what you're getting with a vote for R or D - take a chance on an L and let us prove ourselves to you.
Illinois could tap $4 billion worth of special funds in budget mess
There are 531 separate accounts set up for specific purposes with over $4 billion dollars sitting unspent. The funds are for things such as rail-freight carrier reimbursement, a "Healthy Smiles" fund to promote oral health, and a fund to help raze abandoned buildings. Not surprisingly, politicians are eyeballing using these funds to cover operations during the budget impasse. I cannot stress this enough – you don't dip into other funds to cover a shortfall! If the purpose for which the fund was created is no longer needed, you reallocate the funds and close it – you don't keep it open in case you need to use the money to cover something else.
Pension padding: Is it breaking Murphysboro's bank?
Pension padding in Murphysboro is just one example of a practice happening all over the state, I'm sure. It is this type of practice, changing a job title in the last months leading up to retirement purely to increase one's pension, that is adding to the pension problem in Illinois. Stick the words 'police', 'firefighter', or 'teacher' into a pension discussion and no one wants to touch it, but we the people cannot look the other way much longer – serious changes need to be made for the betterment of Illinois.
Williamson County sues over withheld payments
Williamson County is one of many that has received some funding through the appropriations bill approved earlier this month, but not all of it, and so they are suing the Dept. of Revenue and the Illinois Comptroller to get the rest paid out. I question their choice of opponents. Realistically, they should have brought suit against those that cannot agree on a balanced budget; House Speaker Michael Madigan, Governor Bruce Rauner, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, Senate President John Cullerton, and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno.
State pension obligations like "Pac-Man" eating away state's budget, political analyst says
Being an unpopular problem, one that cannot be easily fixed by cuts or tax increases, the unfunded pension liability is only going to continue to grow. Taking 25% of the overall general fund spend is too much. It is unsustainable in its current form and will need to be restructured and reduced before this Pac-Man gobbles up every tax dollar.
Illinois spending deal dwarfed by huge budget problems
I saw the appropriations bill as a "really, really big deal." I saw it as a legislature that knew they would not resolve the budget any time soon, and so appropriated funding to cover themselves in the interim. I applaud the funding for veteran's homes, domestic abuse shelters, and lottery winners. The majority of the spending, however, was for government to keep ticking – including construction, renovation, salaries and funding to vaguely continue operations. That did not reflect a compromise for the betterment of Illinois in my mind.
Illinois' unfunded pension liability rises to $111 billion
I love how the media is careful to word this. They never say they missed a payment into the pension liability fund – it's always they missed the November payment but made the December payment. Missing a payment is missing a payment, and it only makes the pension problem worse. Once our legislators agree on a balanced budget (I'm guessing we'll see that around June 25th, 2017) we can start discussing the ever-growing unfunded pension liability. You can look at it a bit like a movie sequel – this time the monster is bigger and more ferocious. If only Chuck Norris could save us this time…
Fiscal Experts: Illinois Budgeting Practices 'Badly In Need Of Reform'
In an article by Progress Illinois, "fiscal experts" met in December to discuss ways to improve transparency and accountability in Illinois. They cited many budget reforms needed, including things like modifying the cash-based budget reporting to show significant changes in assets and liabilities (AKA modified accrual based accounting), clearly identifying one-time revenue sources, and more clarity in inter-fund transfer reporting.
What they discussed was nothing new to financial analysts and accountants. We do that every day. "Fiscal experts" can meet and discuss and recommend all they want, but the way to bring these needed changes is to vote in people who do this in the working world. Stop voting in the friend of a friend who talks pretty and raised a billion dollars for their campaign – they only want to kick that fiscal can further down the road.
Gurnee and Waukegan mayors praise release of frozen state funds in time for winter
If the state is holding taxpayer funds that legally are to be used by local governmental units then they should definitely ante up and pay those out. You know what else they're supposed to do? Have a balanced budget every year.
Munger: Legislation clears way for swift payment processing
The General Assembly passed senate bill 2039 to loosen up some of the money on hand and actually pay some of the state backlog. There is some good coming from the bill with funds made available for domestic violence shelters, veteran homes, and 911 services. The larger payout, however, is going to both local and executive government. Some are important services, such as weather-related road and emergency response services. Too much of it is for executive level state government, however, and has no emergency need.
This does not show me leaders coming together and putting "Illinois first". It shows me politicians coming together and putting politicians first.
Emergency Government Funding to flows mostly to government
Legislation was recently passed to allow payment to be made for certain groups/individuals. The media focus is on domestic violence shelters but if you read through the bill, the majority of the "emergency" funding is going to government, government, and more government. Local governments are getting the bulk of the funding followed swiftly by:
Illinois Libertarians endorse Pot decriminalization Bill
Mark Wachtler from the Illinois Herald put together a great piece summing up the recent marijuana issue in Illinois; the current push to decriminalize the drug statewide, and the lawsuit with the state filed by me and Scott Schluter to push for freedom of speech by marijuana growers and dispensaries. Well worth the read.
FIVE GOVERNORS, TWO CONVICTIONS, ONE PRESIDENT: KURT ERICKSON RECALLS 20 YEARS OF ILLINOIS STATEHOUSE JOURNALISM
Does anyone remember a time when people entered the realm of politics in order to work for the people, and not to amass power at the expense of its' citizenry? Neither do I. Let's take a stand against all of it by looking beyond party affiliation and electing people based on their independence and qualifications. Start this November on the Comptroller's ticket.
Illinois Takes First Steps Towards Decriminalization
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D) proposed a new bill yesterday to decriminalize marijuana in Illinois, and I was quoted in the article, along with Scott Schluter.
Judge issues order on Illinois Lottery; Conservation officers minimum manning measure on postponed consideration; and more from INN Radio
I am surprised there isn't more coverage on this issue, since it was such a hot topic last month. Looks like a federal judge has ordered Illinois to put winnings and interest into a separate fund for lottery winners. The lawyer representing lottery winners in a class action lawsuit says they will move forward with suit even if funding is released, in order to secure the interest earned on those winnings. I wonder what he would do if this case was pro-bono?
Illinois to make full December pension payment
So really, the state is making the November payment into the state pension fund, considering they skipped that payment last month. We are still behind, but it will be by only one month instead of two. That's not really progress, if you ask me.
Vendor Payment Program suspended in Illinois budget impasse
I just learned about the Vendor Payment Program, created after the Quinn administration to help deal with the bill backlog. This program is made up of private companies, approved by the Dept. of Central Management Services, which buys the debts owed to vendors from the state and takes over billing and collection. This is not using taxpayer dollars, this is PRIVATE companies picking up the slack left by bungling government control. It's the jailer being bailed out by the cowboy. As wonderfully significant as that is, the program is unavailable until the 2016 budget is enacted proving even private industry can't forever take the strain of a bloated and ineffectual government.
Judge orders state to pay into SEIU Health Fund; Governor, legislative leaders hopeful ahead of Tuesday's meeting; and more from INN Radio
Another day another court order. A county circuit judge has now told the Comptroller's office to pay into the Service Employees International Health Fund, which has a backlog of $1.5M for fiscal year 2015 and $12M for fiscal year 2016. That $1.5M sounds like the very same amount Senator Biss amassed for his ended run for Comptroller. Funny how politicians can find the funds when they want to…
Federal and State Political Candidates Can Now File Petitions
…unless you're a 3rd party candidate. In which case you cannot begin your signature collection period until around March 29th. Why? Because 3rd party candidates are dangerous, being entirely for the people and entirely indifferent to the political cogs of the two party machine. Rest assured I will be on the ballot in November…want to help me collect signatures this spring?
Our opinion: Many victims in Illinois budget crisis
I've said it before and I'll say it again – all state politicians should be paid LAST after the backlog is cleared and every critical service is restored. No emergency appropriation bills or court orders to allow those paychecks out the door, no loopholes. I bet we would see a balanced budget outside of three days. I am not joking on this one.
Biss drops Democratic bid for state comptroller
Anyone who thought Daniel Biss to be a better choice over Susana Mendoza should quite seriously support me. Senator Biss' decision was clearly political, proving old party politics are as strong as always, and that both Mendoza and Biss would rather play by party rules than allow the people to decide who they would rather vote for. I am the only candidate qualified for the role of Comptroller and the only candidate who does not care about party politics. My bosses are the voting people of Illinois and the only ones whose opinions I care about.
Frozen state funds could bury Waukegan's winter road plan
Many Illinoisans wish for little to no snow each year. This time we have very good reason to make that wish, as cities all across the state consider the very real possibility of running out of salt. I hope the voters are also running out of patience and consider some serious change November 2016.
State gets notice from local electric co-op – pay up or get shut off
Good for Rep. Kay to speak out against his party boss, as the state receives delinquent notices from energy suppliers. He is entirely correct that the budget impasse is not about the people of Illinois – it is political strategy at its' finest with two power players trying to out-maneuver each other. Proving again that too much emphasis is placed on party and not enough on the people vying for our votes. The people working for the taxpayers need to agree on a balanced budget and they need to do it now. Put politics aside and do what's best for the people who elected you
Iraq War veteran from Marion returns home, launches constitutional challenge
In our lawsuit against the State of Illinois, Scott Schluter for Liberty and I are challenging a law that prohibits medical marijuana cultivators and dispensaries from being able to make political campaign contributions, just like every other business in IL can. Here is Scott in Marion, IL giving an excellent interview on the issue and making his case.
Two Illinois Libertarian Candidates Sue to Overturn Illinois Campaign Finance Restriction
"On November 19, two Libertarian candidates for Illinois state office in 2016 filed a lawsuit against a 2013 law that makes it illegal for a medical cannabis business, or a PAC formed by such a business, to contribute any money to any candidate for state office. The case is Ball v Madigan, 1:15cv-10441, n.d.. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee, an Obama appointee."
Ex-GAO head: US debt is three times more than you think
Dave Walker, who headed the Government Accountability Office from '98 to '08, has commented on the U.S. debt, and it isn't pretty. According to Dave if you add up all the nation's unfunded liabilities you're looking at a number closer to $65 trillion than the $18.5 we hear about. It's terrible but not surprising. There is too much creative accounting going on at most government levels and not enough actual accountability. The article ends with a quote from him talking about how "…you can be whatever [party] you want, but your duty of loyalty needs to be to country rather than party, and we need to solve some of the large, known, and growing problems that we have."
As if the quote alone wasn't enough for me to like the guy a quick Google search revealed that he has a degree in accounting along with being a CPA. Nice to see someone qualified running the GAO…
Comptroller Leslie Munger in tight spot, but state's in worse one
Comptroller Munger won't go on the record with an offer to arbitrate the Governor and the legislative leaders to help end the budget impasse. If I had that authority, I would. Regardless of being appointed, the role of Comptroller is to serve the people of Illinois, not the party that appointed you. If you're not willing to do that, then why did you accept the job?
Author John Green gives YouTube boost to Sen. Biss' comptroller bid
If Senator Daniel Biss is so much for the people, why is he out and about shoring up millions of dollars for next years' election instead of getting his fellow senators to come together and pass a balanced budget? And I must point out that while math is a useful skill to have, it is not the same thing as being an accountant. Especially not for the accounting job of state Comptroller.
Southland shelters echo plea to end budget impasse
I think a better way to acknowledge and honor our domestic violence help providers would have been seeing that they were paid before lobbyist groups and a political blogger. That's just me, though.
Munger turns up the flame in budget debate
This is why you need someone independent as your "State Accountant." Any recommendations for improvement should be in the best interests of the people and not need to be checked first to see if they might upset certain officials. It is obvious Munger got her hand slapped and now she's trying to walk it back. The Crisis Center leaders aren't the ones fighting over the budget, unless I missed that memo. Elect someone who will use the flame-thrower on anyone threatening the state, Republican and Democrat alike.
Munger offers outlook on impasse to local business leaders
Thanks to watchdog groups at both the state and federal level, we have seen there is a lot of wasteful spending in government (a big surprise there, I know). Aaron Shock, the EPA, even the Illinois Comptroller's budget has some questionable budget items. I bet if people unconnected to either side of the political machine really dug into the details, we could find plenty of places to cut spending without hurting services in the slightest. Why hasn't it been done? Because we keep hiring the connected instead of the qualified. Time to look beyond the machine.
Fitch cuts Illinois credit rating; it's now the only state with a triple-B rating
Ouch. Illinois now has the lowest credit rating of all 50 states at triple B. It's not a terrible rating, but the lower we go, the worse our borrowing power becomes. Our ability to raise funds through bond sales just got less lucrative because now we have to pay out higher interest as Illinois is deemed "more risky" in the investment world. Here's hoping Moody's and Standard and Poor take pity on us and don't follow suit.
Me hanging out with Gayle from The Libertarian Party of Chicago. Thanks for hosting the candidate Meet-N-Greet on Tuesday! I had a great time and met some wonderful new people. Looking forward to doing it again, soon!
Comptroller now says quote was "misreported," but still wants Rauner to stop whacking unions
Comptroller Munger's backpedaling over comments that Rauner should stop targeting unions proves her political chops. She claimed to be "misreported" then falls back on the misreported words when asked directly. I give her a triple B on her Doublespeak. A true pro would leave you convinced of what they said, after saying nothing at all…
Munger says Rauner should give up union attacks
Comptroller Munger has been touring the state to "highlight" the budget impasse problem, because if it didn't happen on "The Voice" no one knows about it, apparently. I have to ask – how is she paying for this tour? Is she using her own car and staying at Best Western … or are We The People going to start seeing expense reports for this show up on the check register? I don't see how a tour of the state to talk about a problem everyone knows about and agrees is bad (except the people actually working on it) will help to fix it.
Illinois Has a Lottery Problem with a Massive Price Tag
My advice to every Illinois lottery winner involved in the lawsuit against the state? Drop the suit, because the only real winners will be the lawyers, and instead make your voice heard at the ballot. Vote out all these political hacks that think there are no consequences and vote in your 3rd party candidates. We will work hard to earn your trust and not simply a place within the pecking order.
State Comptroller Shares Budget Frustration In Rockford Stop
Comptroller Munger's state-wide tour on the state's financial woes reminds me of a pastor visiting community churches to talk about religion. You're preaching to the choir, people who already believe and are ready with a chorus of 'Amen!' My version of a state tour would start and end with the capital, appointments with the governor, each senator, and everyone else actually involved in the budget process. If they start complaining about ending the impasse to get rid of "that annoying blonde" I know I'm doing something right…
$181M in fuel taxes owed to local governments in Illinois
Because we were getting tired of the same ol' budget impasse news – here's a twist! The state has been collecting over $181 million in motor fuel taxes and not distributing them to their rightful owners – local government bodies all across the state. The roads (which we libertarians are quite fond of, actually) are now going to suffer, so be prepared for potholes and unsalted roads this holiday season.
Hanging out last night with libertarians in Peoria, along with candidate for US Senate Chris Michel for US Senate and former candidate for IL Governor Chad Grimm Grimm for liberty. Thanks to everyone who came out for a long, fun night of politics and pizza!
Illinois Comptroller Rejects Clark County Park District's Audit
So there is more going on at the Comptroller's office besides scheduling more tour dates! It requires a lot of precious resources to ignore the ringing phones from diligent watchdog groups…
For Speaker Madigan, gridlock is the plan
Nov. 1 has come and gone, and there is no end in sight to this budget standoff. Suggesting Rauner take tax hikes "off the table" to budge Madigan is laughable. The man hasn't budged once yet, so why would giving him a deadline will make that much of a difference? My suggestion? Tell everyone involved in the negotiations they won't get paid until Illinois has a balanced budget. I think compromise might just be on the horizon then…
Libertarian candidate to challenge Bradley for House seat
Great interview from my good friend Scott Schluter from Southern Illinois, who is running for state representative of the 117th district. Check it out!
Had a great time at the PVSA Wheaton Gun Show this morning! Thanks to Steve and Linda (taking the photo) for all your help!
Illinois Lottery Winners Out Of Luck As Delay In Payments Is Announced
The Illinois Lottery fuels the dreams of many citizens, in turn fueling the revenue funds for the state and local government. When those who win are not paid out, their faith in the program, and then their hard-earned dollars, disappear. This hurts both the people dreaming of winning big and those that depend on state or local government services to survive. Here's a new concept – how about when funds are designated for a certain purpose, we don't dip into their pots to cover overspending?
IOUs given to US lotto winners
People…seriously – the AUSTRALIAN press is commenting on our inability to pay state lottery winners. Send this link to your local state official… maybe they'll be embarrassed enough to push for a budget resolution…
Rauner: Budget deal could come within 3 months; Store sees drop in players, player says not paying is unfair; and more from INN Radio
Munger supports a two-year budget plan for the state, saying many companies utilize up to five-year spending (not in any company I've looked into, but okay). I haven't researched it (yet) but on the surface, I don't agree with it. For a budget to work properly, you must constantly re-assess the plan against the ever changing financial demands of your home, business, or state. For things that come up and must be taken care of, I see emergency appropriation bills passed in the middle of the night bloated with extras. Will they lessen the amount of financial reporting to once every two years as well? No, thank you. Financial reporting is one of the drivers of transparency and if publicly traded companies must report quarterly as well as annually, I don't see why the state shouldn't do so as well.
…I must also comment on Governor Rauner's cautious optimism over resolving the budget. It sounds like he's banking on Chicago needing state help in the upcoming holiday season and it reminds me of Mr. Potter when George Bailey came to ask his help in "It's A Wonderful Life." Not that I don't agree that we need serious reforms to fix our financial house, I just don't like the tactics at play here…
Illinois will delay pension payment, citing cash shortage
The money troubles in Illinois are the result of mismanagement of our tax dollars over years. Too many connected individuals and political mouthpieces only interested in how much and how far they can get. It leads to "political" math and pushing financial obligations further down the road. Comptroller Munger announced that she is not making the November payment of $560 million to the pension fund, but that's not so bad because we already have an underfunded liability floating in the ether…what's a little more right?
Had a wonderful time out in Mount Vernon this weekend with the Southern Illinois Libertarian Party and Jackson County Libertarian Party (JCLP) at the Fall festival!
SEIU Illinois Council Endorses Mendoza In Comptroller's Race
They will also be facing yours truly, and I plan to make a lot of noise. In announcing their endorsement of Mendoza, the SEIU Illinois Council stated they're looking forward to someone who will "revive neighborhoods and help to build an economy that works for everyone". Last time I checked, the Comptroller was in charge of record keeping and authorization of our money, not the head of Habitat for Humanity.
Why Lottery Winners Are Getting Stiffed in Illinois
The Illinois Comptroller is comparing the budget crisis to trying to revive a failing brand of shampoo. Munger is a former marketing executive and has been traveling the state to talk about the budget crisis, and how we need a balanced budget. I agree – we need a balanced budget, but she is preaching to the choir. The people understand the severity of the situation – it"s her co-workers, the state senators and her fellow executives that need to be reminded. Talk to them about that flip-top shampoo tops.
Illinois Lottery Can't Pay Off Big Winners But It Is Still Selling Tickets
I understand the lottery winners that filed suit against the IL Lottery, but the only winners wind up being the lawyers. Illinois Representative Jack Franks (D) wants to push legislation through to force payment to the lottery winners, because the lottery is such an asset to the state in bringing in revenues. Yes, the Illinois Lottery is a lucrative source of revenue for the state. Instead of pushing to force payments, how about you push your fellow politicians to force a resolution to the budget impasse? Then payments can resume and life (hopefully) get a little better.
Expect Illinois to send big bill your way soon
The costs of this budget impasse are staggering, and only going to get worse the longer the impasse goes on. As bills mount, they become unmanageable and people crumble under the weight. Let's give them some new incentives for coming to terms on a balanced budget – how about no paychecks for the State Senators, House Reps, and our dear executive branch until they compromise and end the standoff? I bet we'd see results outside of two days…along with an emergency appropriations bill for their payables. Ugh.
Protesters keep heat on as no end to Illinois budget battle in sight
Demonstrators representing children with disabilities camped out in the Capital building to push for a balanced budget as the politicians prepped for their four weeks off, finalizing their vacation trips and European holidays. While they're gone we the people should go in there and get the budget balanced and finalized. Let them come back from their relaxation to find their services are no longer needed…
CornFest was a blast!
Had a wonderful time marching in the Grundy County CornFest Parade on Sunday in Morris, IL. Thanks to everyone who came out and supported me and the party in this great event!
In Memory of Mark Agnini
I found out last night that a dear friend of mine Mark Agnini died in a car accident. I hoped it wasn't true, but knew when I woke up this morning that it was. I send my deepest sympathies to Mark's family as they go through this. Mark was a person with the beautiful talent of making people laugh and making them think. When he wasn't challenging you to think outside of your boundaries with libertarian ideas (and just plain making sense), he was eliciting snorts or groans with his awesome sense of humor. He was my #1 supporter in my upcoming Comptroller campaign, and really believed I could get the Libertarian Party to that coveted 5%. Beyond that, he was just a wonderful friend that I loved being around. I wished I could have been in some of his classes back when he taught theology, but I cherish the time I did get to spend with him. I am a better person for knowing him, and when I do get that 5% (and beyond!) in next year's election, it will be because of the faith and support of Mark Agnini. Thank you, Mark, for your friendship.
Brown: Disabled kids get funds, hospitals left waiting
Comptroller Munger refused to pay for agencies for the developmentally disabled until she was ordered to do so by the courts, and publicly scolded. This hurt her public image in a major way. Suddenly, the Sun Times gets a call from the Comptroller's office and are informed that they are resuming payments to Early Intervention services, an agency that helps developmentally disabled infants and toddlers. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the earlier scolding and aforementioned image damage.
I know I've been offering transparency, but that is not the type I had in mind.
LOOKING AT A DECADE OF ILLINOIS' UNPAID BILL BACKLOG: PEAKS AND VALLEYS, BUT MOSTLY PEAKS
Ouch, that graph hurts. The state is acting more and more like a first year college student, flush with student loans and a brand new credit card. We the people, AKA mom and dad, need to stop the spending since we're not made of money. Let's start that by voting in some new faces at the next election.
Our View: No heroes in Illinois' version of 'Groundhog Day'
I loved the movie Groundhog Day. I hate that it is a perfect analogy for Illinois' financial situation. This is why history is so very important. As we have seen, voting people in to manage our state based on their political standing IS NOT WORKING. Stop looking for the R or D after their name and look at how those people are voting and the consequences of their actions. If you start to hear 'I Got You Babe' playing in the background it's time to vote for someone new with a new letter after their name.
Winners to Illinois Lottery: Pay up
The problem with the Illinois lottery is that it is a revenue generating unit so to stop issuing lotto tickets is to stop collecting revenues. As we have heard the state is already building an eight billion-ish backlog of bills and to stop issuing tickets would dig us even deeper. I would love to think this will help bolster our elected officials into getting that balanced budget we so desperately need, but I think the only people that will benefit from this suit are the lawyers…
Brown: Munger takes steps to avoid being fall guy
In order to be viewed as the "independent arbiter of the state's finances" you must put party politics aside and actually be independent. The role of Comptroller – payment authorization and record keeping of the people's money – should not be political. Does the head of your accounting department worry about where the blame lands if money is tight? No, because he or she has rationale and understandable criteria for the decisions they made and can back them up with hard evidence. Those who cannot fall into the "Enron" group, and we've seen what happens to them…
Creekside with Don and Jan, Episode 138
Online podcast Creekside with Don and Jan from the Owl Creek Gazette recently interviewed Aaron Wright from the Metro East Libertarians about gardening, homeschooling (of which I was homeschooled and found particularly interesting) and politics – and they mentioned my campaign! THANK YOU! Last year, they published LOTS of material on Julie Fox for Illinois Comptroller 2014, and maybe… just maybe… I'll be able to wiggle myself in on an interview or two before the election. Check them out…
Debate ensues after Rauner aids were paid by comptroller
The Comptroller's office hired and utilized specific people to help sift through applications and potential employees for the Governor's office. This was authorized by the Comptroller's independent inspector general under the prior Comptroller Judy Baar-Topinka and continued under Leslie Munger. Two people in particular from the Comptroller's staff were then hired into the Governor's administration with six figure salaries.
Whether the inspector general approved of it or not this is not a function of the Comptroller's office, and it should have been stopped either before inception by Topinka or when Munger took office. Independence in fact and appearance is a requirement in the CPA world, and this kind of "help" would not be okay in my book.
Judges' spending orders setting up Illinois for big deficit, comptroller says
Biss has certainly been a critic of Munger, but I wouldn't trust him any more than I do her. Both have been very outspoken in their criticism of the opposing political party, eager to place blame and get people angry. I'm angry – angry at both sides for causing the people they're supposed to work for such undue hardship. Isn't the end product, a balanced budget, going to be good for everyone, regardless of their political affiliation?
MUNGER WARNS STATE WILL HAVE $12.8 BILLION IN UNPAID BILLS IF NO BUDGET BY NEW YEAR'S
Illinois is incurring/paying expenses at 2015 levels while 2016 revenues are projected to be less than that, leading to the unbalanced budget that Rauner vetoed. At current payout levels, we're setting up for an $8.5B in unpaid bills by the end of the year. Hopefully this will put more pressure on both sides to reach an agreement on a balanced budget. Maybe we should put more financially-minded people in place to cut through some of the politics and actually do the job.
WINNERS SUE ILLINOIS LOTTERY FOR FAILURE TO PAY: THEY'RE SELLING TICKETS UNDER "FALSE PRETENSES"
I understand the anger over lottery players and the winners who are suing, but all that is going to come of this is a couple of lawyers taking their winnings when they finally get paid. Perhaps the lottery, a revenue generating unit, should have received payment before Munger paid Planned Parenthood? Still waiting for an answer on why they couldn't wait…
Munger: Budget mess threatens nonprofits
If she's so concerned with the developmentally disabled and understands so well their dependence on state funding, then why did she choose to interpret the original court order to mean that she could not pay the agencies serving those very people? Let alone paying out to Planned Parenthood and a political blogger over them?
State of Illinois continues to hire despite lack of budget
The situation isn't merely odd, it's insane. I worked for a real estate company when the housing bubble burst. Starting in 2007 and continuing through 2008 and 2009 we watched budgets shrink, departments shrink, and roles nixed when people left voluntarily. They did not hire new employees unless it was absolutely necessary and they managed to keep a budget each year. I imagine most private companies do the same in the same circumstances. Why should Illinois be held to different standards?
Illinois GOP, Democrats keep butting heads
Senator Biss, one of the Democrat hopefuls for Comptroller candidate next year, is the chairman of the Senate Human Services Committee. That committee is looking into the effects this budget impasse has had on people with legislative hearings. He keeps popping up in the news talking about how everyone should find it "personally unacceptable" and how his teeth hurt over "this consistent effort to throw the hot potato of blame around". His teeth seem okay with his every throw, apparently. Maybe he should be urging his own party to get back to work on passing a balanced budget?
IL Gov. Bruce Rauner Grounded State Airplanes, But Many Public Contractors Are Still Flying High
This is a slightly older article but well worth the read. I think every Illinois taxpayer should be as outraged as I was to read that we are paying for employees to jet between Michigan and Illinois on a weekly basis for meetings. Yes, even now during the budget crisis. How many of you have held meetings through web services, or just called in on your cell? It's extremely common place now, leaving very little justification for why we should foot the bill to fly our government workers anywhere.
COMPTROLLER DEFENDS HER PAYMENT CHOICES
Word games indeed. It is in the Comptroller's authority to cut from her own budget, so why is there a $60,000 line item for the lobbyist activities? That could bring those $500K in savings she's so proud of to $560K…
Daniel Biss Running For State Comptroller Seat
Senator Daniel Biss will be an "independent watchdog" for Illinois? (D) Senator Biss of the Illinois General Assembly – the party and people currently deadlocked with (R) Governor Rauner over the budget? Excuse me if I find that difficult to believe. And while having a degree in mathematics is at least somewhat related to the field of accounting, it doesn't replace accounting knowledge/experience for an accounting job. It's a bit like calling in a plumber to fix your gas line. Sure they both deal with pipes…
Attorneys: Illinois could and should have made disability payments
Here's government for you. There is no budget because of both Republicans and Democrats. Both sides are deadlocked and refuse to budge. Instead of working to find a solution with each other, we have one side analyzing how much financial damage their refusal and inaction are causing in an effort to bolster support for their side. Meanwhile, the other side will gamble with peoples' lives via state payments in an effort to bolster support for their side. Let's put someone who is actually independent in place to decide who should be paid – and willingly tell you why.
Illinois Comptroller Munger dukes it out on Facebook instead of issuing press release
I know it is very popular, but to respond to an article in Forbes through Facebook doesn't seem very professional. I definitely wouldn't have seen it coming from Comptroller Munger. Absolutely valid question by the Watchdogs; if the disabled/children/elderly are her priority than why didn't Comptroller Munger pay them in June and July?
State escapes contempt over disability payments; judge calls actions 'disturbing'
What's disturbing to me is not that they kept silent while ignoring a court order – it's that the person in charge of deciding who gets paid is willing to disregard the ethics of her position for politics. And I would be just as disturbed to have Senator Daniel Biss, another politician and the Democrat hoping to run for the position next year, in her place. Shouldn't he be working on passing a budget with his fellow Senators and the Governor so these court ordered payments can stop?
Judge tosses request to find Rauner administration in contempt on payments
Judge Coleman decided not to hold the State in contempt for ignoring the court ordered deadline to pay agencies that help the disabled. She did, however, scold the administration for "failing to explain the difficulty they were having in a timely way" and ordered both parties to draft an order that would allow the court to keep an eye on payments. That the courts have to keep an eye on this administration to keep it from playing a part in the budget issue is appalling.
SUDDENLY, ILLINOIS COMPTROLLER IS HOTTEST OFFICE IN STATE
Hey Matt Dietrich get your facts straight! There is a fully qualified (or should I say actually qualified?) Libertarian candidate running against that incumbent Munger and either Biss or Mendoza.
New Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger Close To 'Contempt of Court' According To Federal Judge
Reform shouldn't have to come from the Fed. The person in charge of authorizing payments should be independent and objective in deciding which vendors to be paid in any given situation. Making $1.6 million in payments to Planned Parenthood in July/August while claiming you don't have the funds to pay agencies that provide care to developmentally disabled people is inexcusable. What justification could there be for paying political bloggers and lobbyist firms during a budget impasse?
Illinois lottery winners have to wait for payout due to budget impasse
The Illinois lottery brings much needed revenue into the state, but only if the people playing actually get paid out if they win. Why play if you don't get paid? If you thought you weren't going to be affected by the budget impasse, think again…
Illinois' top two financial officers clash over disability payments
The Treasurer's office, no doubt feeling left out, has commented that it is "unlikely" the Comptroller's office could not make the court ordered payments by the original deadline. They point to daily balance sheets reflecting opening balances of $217 million and closing balances of $57 million. I would like to know if he was referring to actual cash available balances (the statement of cash flows) or actual balance sheet balances – two different things. The Comptroller's office keeps responding with the fact that they are prioritizing payments for the elderly, children, and those "vulnerable residents". I would also like to see that backed up with proof. Accounting type people (and general taxpayers I'm sure) generally like that kind of thing.
I've been meaning to share a photo of my Leadership Award that I was given this year by Libertarian Party of Illinois state chair Lex Green at this year's convention. Finally got around to hanging it on the wall. Thank you!
Judge Threatens State with Contempt of Court, Munger Laments "Government by Court Order"
The courts slapped the Comptroller's hand for failing to make the payments that help the disabled by their Friday deadline. Munger finally made $71 million in emergency payments as of Tuesday, but it's not good enough – Judge Coleman now wants to know how much is still outstanding and what was paid previously to other vendors that hindered payment going to these agencies.
When the Comptroller spoke on this situation, it was to say she was trying to comply with Judge Coleman. As she stated, "To be clear: taxpayers deserve better than government by court order." That was in reference to not having a budget yet. Yes, they certainly do, and I want a balanced budget for our state as much as anyone – but I am not willing to use vendors as pawns to get one.
How about a little more clarity: the taxpayers deserve better than a Comptroller willing to play games to help the Governor get what he wants.
Comptroller: Illinois facing 'severe cash shortage'
The Comptroller's office sent their spokesman out today. Apparently they don't have the cash flows to make payment to agencies that provide social services to people with disabilities. They were ordered to pay them no later than Friday. Considering $4 thousand was paid to a political blogger during July (you remember that pesky government shut down, right?) I tried to go see what else was paid in July that could have taken a backseat to a non-profit serving the disabled. Their site keeps crashing on me when I pull up the checkbook – isn't that curious (and convenient)?
Track spending, speak out
This is why it is so important to have a qualified and independent person authorizing payment and keeping the records of our tax dollars. Why are we paying for Cecilia Abundis to go to Lisa Madigan's mother's house? Why is Rich Miller's political blog getting paid during a government shutdown? The system in place to pay the lobbyist firm Shea Page & Rogal for services to court reporters practically screams insider deal and it was paid out from the Comptroller's budget. My motivations come from an accounting background and not one of playing politics. Ethics are much more important to me than connections. Put a libertarian accountant in place to watch your money and track your government's spending. I will follow the money trails and map out where YOUR money is going, whether it's into Red pockets or Blue pockets.
Federal judge orders specific schedule for Illinois to pay for services for thousands of people with developmental disabilities
I would like to know what the basis was for the position that payments could not be made without a court order in this case. Considering the people it would have affected, I would have taken the opposite position and tried to arrange payment – unless a court order told me no. People with developmental disabilities who rely on State funds should not be placed into limbo while political parties play 'Chicken'.
IL Comptroller appropriations being used for lobbyists
How does the Comptroller's budget foot the bill for a lobbyist firm for Chief Circuit Court Judges, the contracts of which are handled by the IL Court Reporter Services Office? And why are we spending $60,000 a year on this? If the Comptroller's office does any type of budget-to-actual analysis on a monthly – even on a quarterly basis (and they should be as proper record keepers) they should see this expenditure hit their budget. They should be aware of it. Why is this an allowable expense?
Analysis: Illinois on track to overspend revenue by $5 billion
State Senators are mad because payments are going out the State door based on court order, rather than coming from a budget. Senator Daniel Biss says the governor rejected the budget without offering alternatives, while the governor's office says they offered plenty of alternatives the Senate refused to consider. Perhaps the courts can order both sides to stop playing "he said, she said" and come to an agreement on a balanced budget. Plenty of troubled companies seem to be able to do it every year, I don't see why the State should be any different.
Comptroller uses public funds for multiple state agency's political subscriptions
Apparently our tax dollars are being spent on political blogging subscriptions as Rich Miller's blog Capital Fax has been paid $43,000 of state funds so far this year. That's 86 subscriptions to read someone's political views during a budget crisis where our politicians are lamenting about how we can't pay for services to help the people who need them. The classifications of these subscriptions are under "awards and grants" or "equipment" because, you know... reasons. To add insult to injury, $4,000 of the money paid was done in July – when the Comptroller had to get a court order to pay our state employees. I see a problem with this. As an accountant, I see a big problem with this.
Senate Dems: "Dose of reality" on current spending with no budget
According to this, a House revenue committee met this week to see how much money the governor is spending during the current budget year, and they will continue to meet to determine how much is being spent. Can someone please tell me how this is working towards a balanced budget to end the budget crisis? As for Senator Biss's comment on his hopes the information will "jolt everybody into coming together and... stopping the madness"? Isn't he one of the many senators contributing to the "madness"?
I had a wonderful time meeting with fellow Libertarians from all over this state at this years Libertarian Party of Illinois Convention. There were many interesting and passionate speakers, among which were several candidates for both state and local positions. I also formally announced my candidacy. Watch the video here!