Candidates for treasurer focus on cuts, unemployment

By Meghan Keyes

Illinois is more than $11 billion in debt, according to Gov. Quinn’s latest budget. It’s the treasurer’s job to invest the state’s funds into worthy investments.

Four candidates are on the Nov. 2 ballot to replace current Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias: Robin Kelly, Democrat; State Sen. Dan Rutherford, Republican; Scott Summers, Green Party; and James Pauly, Libertarian.

The state treasurer is the banker of Illinois’ finances and oversees the state’s investments. These investments include, but are not limited to, education, transportation, health care and state operations and investing in banks that lend money to residents.

Kelly is the current chief of staff for Giannoulias. A former state representative, Kelly won 94 of 102 counties in the February primary election on Feb. 2.

Kelly said she decided to run for the office after finding out Giannoulias was leaving to run for the U.S. Senate and felt she could build on the current foundation and successes as well as her experience.

Her three campaign points are to create jobs, cut waste and restore ethics. To create more jobs she wants to create a loan guarantee program, a technology development account and offer loans for grocery stores opening in food deserts.

Kelly said creating jobs would be her first priority in office.

“I have traveled the state, and this is what people are concerned about,” Kelly said.

Her plans for cuts include monitoring staff for productivity and identifying ineffective programs.

In contrast to Kelly, Rutherford said he has the experience of the private sector and aims to bring his skill set to help the finances of Illinois.

Rutherford wants to make small cuts in government, including closing the six offices of the treasurer used primarily for residents who don’t want to do their paperwork online.

“It’s a relatively small office to start with so they aren’t big cuts, but even small cuts are important today in government,” Rutherford said.

He said he does not think the office should implement new programs for job creation but should instead support the programs in place within other areas of government.

Overall, Rutherford said he aims to limit government and keep the office within its means.

“The less growth we have in government, the better off we are,” Rutherford said. “I’m looking for the treasurer’s office to live within its means and not be out there spending more money than they have to.”

On the other hand, Summers wants government to invest from the bottom up in the form of “microcapitalism.” He said he wants to offer small loans and grants to start-up businesses in communities and create summer job programs for people to work seasonally in towns throughout the state.

“Everybody keeps trying to trot out the tired old solutions, but I do think we would do better on a grassroots basis in job creation,” Summers said.

He also supports cost shifts on Medicare and state pensions, including streamlining Medicare and Medicaid.

The fourth candidate, Pauly, said he is the only candidate not willing to directly raise taxes to fill the budget’s gaps. His first measure of cost-saving would be to decrease his salary from $120,000 to $99,000.

“What I’d like to do is go through my department’s budget, literally line by line, and see which programs are mandated by the Illinois Constitution, and which ones are not,” Pauly said. “Those which are not, we will see if they are making a profit and worthwhile to taxpayers.”

He wants to scale back the government’s size as a whole and let the treasurer’s office serve to protect job creation but not create jobs.

“If they do vote for me, they are going to be voting for someone based on principle, not someone trying to win a popularity contest,” Pauly said. “Hopefully I can represent them as a statesman rather than just as a politician.”

The statewide elections take place on Nov. 2. Early voting began Oct. 12 and continues through Oct 28.