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Thorner: Comptroller delivers budget message to Lake County Republicans



9june 3
Comptroller Leslie Munger addresses Women's Republican Club of Lake Forest & Lake Bluff

By Nancy Thorner - 

The Women's Republican Club of Lake Forest & Lake Bluff and Shields, West Deerfield, Moraine, and Vernon GOP Township Organizations held a Meet and Speak with Lake County & local State GOP candidates and incumbents at Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest on Thursday, June 9, 2016 from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm.  Peggy Siebert serves as president of The Women's Republican Club of Lake Forest & Lake Bluff. Leslie Munger, Comptroller, State of Illinois and Mark Shaw, Chairman, Lake County Republican Central Committee were the featured speakers at the Paint Lake County Republican Red! event.

Comptroller Munger emphasizes need for balanced budget

Even though the wording of the Illinois Constitution seems clear that the proposed expenditures shall not exceed funds estimated to be available for the fiscal year as shown in the budget, for more than a decade Illinois lawmakers have used borrowing and budget gimmicks to pass unbalanced budgets.

Leslie Munger knows what it is to have a budget.  In her 25 years as an executive at Helene Curtis in the hair care business, Ms. Munger is used to having a budget finished on time.  Munger was sworn in as Illinois State Comptroller on January 12, 2015 to take over the position held by Judy Topinka after her untimely death. This being the second year without a budget, Munger rightly called the present as being the "most challenging financial time in this state's history." This marks the second year for Illinois without a budget. 

Ms. Munger blamed both parties for a decade of bad decisions where financial problems were pushed off until tomorrow.  

In 1994, then-Gov. Jim Edgar spearheaded a bipartisan pension bill he claimed would solve the state's then $15 billion pension deficit.  The basic setup?  Drastically reduce pension payments at the plan's onset and then steadily increase payments in the future.  Under Edgar's pension ramp, unfunded pensions liabilities have increased nearly $116 billion in 2016, despite taxpayers contributing $16.4 billion more to the five-state-run pension systems than required under the Edgar plan.

Presently Illinois is spending $5 billion more than what the state is taking in. The outcome:  There are more bills to be paid than the money available to pay them.  It was in April that Comptroller Leslie Munger decided to put legislative paychecks into the same long line for payment as everyone else waiting for payment from the state, making payment about 48 working days late. State lawmakers and top elected officials are not happy with Munger as they have missed their last two paychecks.

In the budget fight, each side blames the other side and neither appears willing to budge.  There is now a war of words and blame between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton.  Consider that the Illinois House Democrats recently proposed and passed a fiscal year 2017 budget plan that is nearly $7 billion out of balance. 

According to Leslie Munger, this proposal could increase Illinois' unpaid bills to $1.5 billion from $7 billion, and could cause eight to nine month payment delays for vendors.   With $32.6 billion in expected revenue for 2017, SB 2048 is far out of line with what the state can afford. 

It doesn't help that recently two major credit rating agencies downgraded Illinois already worst-in-the nation rating, citing the ongoing political gridlock and fiscal mismanagement by state leaders.   The changes means that Illinois will pay more money to borrow.

Leslie Munger is committed to fighting for "the soul of the party." She is facing Democrat Chicago City Clerk Susanna Mendoza in November's election, as her appointment was only for two years to finish out the term of Judy Topinka. Help is needed for Leslie Munger to win her own four year term.  More Republican legislators must also be elected to the General Assembly.  Only one seat is needed in the House for Republicans to gain more power over Mike Madigan, the longest-serving House speaker in Illinois history and one of the longest-serving state House speakers in United States history, while a three seat pickup is needed in the Senate for the same to happen to John Culligan (Read here "How Madigan Became King" by Austin Berg, Illinois Policy Institute). 

The pick-up of seats are doable, although it will not deny Madigan and Cullerton the Super Majorities they now enjoy.  Both will still be in control, but not with complete power.  The Democrat's goal of reclaiming the Comptroller's Office and the checkbook must be denied.

Mark Shaw, Chairman, Lake County Republican Central Committee

Mark Shaw stressed that what happens in Springfield also affects Lake Forest.  For twenty years the Democrats have been trying to bring their brand of politics up to Lake County.  Of the 14 seats on the Lake County Board, 9 are Republicans. This Republican majority must be protected.  Local precinct committeemen are vital in promoting, electing and re-electing the slate of Republicans candidate running here in Lake County. 

Many Illinoisans would be surprised to hear that Illinois is not a Democratic state.  The Illinois General Assembly is responsible for drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines.  Based on census figures every ten years, Illinois's legislative redistricting plan was passed by the legislature on May 27, 2011. Quinn signed the map into law on June 3, 2011.  Not surprising is that gerrymandering is rampant here in Illinois, which means that many incumbent Democrats are never challenged.  Gov. Bruce Rauner has endorsed a petition-driven effort to allow voters to change the state constitution to reduce political influence in the redrawing of legislative boundaries, dismissing attempts by lawmakers to put their own redistricting proposals on the fall ballot.     

Before introducing the Lake County and local State GOP candidates and incumbents, Mark Shaw spoke of the voter anger he has experienced here in Lake County.  Reforms can take place at the county by electing good people and keeping these people in office.  

Introduction of Lake County and Local State GOP Candidates and Incumbents

Among the many candidates who spoke were State's Attorney, Michael Nerheim, who told of an opium epidemic in Lake County where all drugs are coming from Mexico.  Programs to allow drug addicts to get help were touted.  A life-saving antidote in now in the hands of the police — naloxone — which has been credited with saving 80 lives in Lake County.  On June 1 a new program was announced, the "A Way Out" country addition treatment program where those struggling with addiction can walk into a police station and find help rather than handcuffs. 

Keith Brin, Clerk of the Circuit Court told of an amazing accomplishment.  Brin reduced the budget in his office by 20% through investing in technology.

Carla Wyckoff, County Clerk, although not up for election until 2018, indicated that the 14 early voting sites in Lake County are now universal voting sites.   Another change is that registration can now take place on election day.  Ms. Wyckoff had reason to be pleased with her department.  It does everything internally, even printing its own ballots at 4 cents a ballot.  The push continues for more election judges.

Presentations were made by two dentists who are running to defeat Lake County Democrat incumbents  Dr. Howard Cooper hopes to unseat the present Lake County coroner, Dr. Thomas Rudd.  Cooper want to go into schools to talk about drugs before they end up on his table.  Bob Haraden is running against long-time Democrat Recorder of Deed, Mary Ellen Vanderventer.  He wants to work to modernize the records system so your records are accessible online.

For positions on the Lake County Board in a push to keep Lake County Red, introduced were Michael Rummel (former mayor of Lake Forest), for District 12; Ann Brennan, for District 13; and Laura Lambrecht, for District 11. 

In an effort to win back control of the General Assembly from Democrat control, Lake County candidates Benjamin Salzberg is running against incumbent Democrat IL Senator Julie Morrison (29th), while Martin Blumenthal is going up against Incumbent Democrat representative Steve Drury (58th).

Tom Mannix, a political consultant since 2001, was enlisted by Mark Shaw to explain what volunteers can do to help candidates.  Suggestions given include door knocking, phone banks, circulating petitions, working train station, putting out yard signs out, attending events on behalf of candidate, holding Meet and Greet event, and general volunteer office work.

Lake County is one of the most important fiscal counties in the state, making it a Democrat target for takeover.


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