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Breen: Things to consider before eliminating LG post



Evelyn Sanguinetti (L) would be Illinois' last lieutenant governor if HJCR 5 succeeds

SPRINGFIELD – There are good reasons for Illinois to remain among the 45 states that have lieutenant governors to assist and succeed elected governors, State Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) argued on the Illinois House floor Friday afternoon.

Although the floor debate on the constitutional amendment sponsored by State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington) started out surprisingly contentious, it settled down as Breen offered the reasons for his opposition to McSweeney's effort. 

Among the duties the lieutenant governor offers, Breen said, are:

  • Representing the state of Illinois at funerals
  • Meeting with foreign heads of state of behalf of the governor's office
  • Representing the governor when he's out of the state 
  • Serving in the case of a governor's temporary absence due to ailments – and in that case, the attorney general would have to perform double duties – as state's executive and its legal counsel at the same time. 

"It is short-sighted and really small of us to think [in a case of temporary ailments] we can trade parties back and forth, that well, you may elect a conservative Republican attorney general and a liberal Democrat as your governor," Breen said.

"If the governor's not available, the people don't necessarily want the attorney general to step in."

Breen, an attorney that argues constitutional issues, also wondered whether if in the case of impeaching the governor, if the successor were to be from a competing party, whether the impeachment process were to move as quickly if the person to assume the office were from an opposing party. 

"Whether a Democrat or Republican, I believe there's a need for the office," Breen said. "I don't believe we will save any money eliminating the office, but instead we will reduce the constitutional officers available to our people to do the job here. And for that reason I would respectfully urge a 'No' vote.

Rep. McSweeney introduced the legislation for the purpose of saving $1.6 million in the state budget allocated for the lieutenant governor's $137,000 a year salary and her office staff.

While a similar proposal was soundly defeated in the Illinois Senate, the Illinois House passed HJRCA 5 with an overwhelming 95 to 10 vote. Before going into effect, the amendment would need to go before Illinois voters. 

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  1. Good arguments but
    At issue for me is the other 42,999 elected officials in Illinois, the highest number of elected officials of the 50 states. This is for over 7000 taxing districts.
    Let’s start by eliminating township government, consolidating school districts, eliminate mosquito abatement districts, combine park, library, & village boards, and cut the 177 state legislators in half and they surely need no staff. They can read their own emails and get their own coffee.
    And yes highway commissions, get rid of them.
    While representation may be nice, I want to cut bureaucracy an cut taxes.
    By cutting government we will cut waste, fraud, pensions, mismanagement, taxes, and corruption.
    We need to lower the size, scope, and cost of government to create more freedom, liberty, and opportunity.

  2. I see nothing wrong with having a post such as Lt. Governor to assist the governor in case of his absence, especially after wasting millions of tax payer dollars on fraud, abuse, and government folly. The Lt. Governors salary should not have an impact on the decision to keep, or eliminate this post.
    I would like to point out, the one thing good about former Governor Pat Quin, in my opinion, was that he attended every wake, or funeral of Illinois military veterans killed in action, personally, then he diabolically turned right around and offered in state funding to illegal aliens for schooling, eliminating the opportunity for returning American veterans access to an education.
    It is obvious to me, that once we elect people to represent our interest, they become out of touch with reality.
    The solution to this malady, in my opinion, is to elect less public servants. They would be easier to watch.

  3. As far as the succession issue goes – the governor could simply designate a state senator as successor.
    The ceremonial duties are trivial; if nobody showed up, would it matter? Because the LG is effectively nobody.

  4. Why not just have the highest ranking statewide constitutional officer of the same political party as the Governor be the person to become Governor if there is a vacancy? If there is no one that meets that requirement, then have it be the leader of that political party’s caucus in the State Senate.