Earlier this week I wrote that the race for Illinois comptroller might be one of the hottest contests of next year's election.
I contrasted the sizzle of the election -- which will pit incumbent Leslie Geissler Munger against either state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, or Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza -- with the relatively mundane nature of the office. The comptroller keeps the state's checkbook but doesn't make the policy that decides what goes into and out of the checking account.
Maybe I spoke too soon. This week in federal court in Chicago, we're learning that even being the state's check-writer can generate controversy and political intrigue. At issue is why the comptroller's office didn't make court-ordered payments to providers of services for the disabled. This started Aug. 6 when a group of service providers filed a lawsuit alleging that the comptroller had failed to make the payments and was putting care for thousands of developmentally disabled Illinoisans in jeopardy.
The comptroller's office this week said the state didn't have enough cash on hand to make the payments, and that's where the controversy started. A lawyer for one of the plaintiffs said at a hearing on Wednesday that he believes Munger's office and Gov. Bruce Rauner deliberately manipulated payments for political advantage in the state budget impasse. The Chicago Tribune reported on the hearing:
The judge also said she understood the comptroller's predicament. Without a budget, state government has been spending at a rate billions of dollars beyond what it is set to take in, mostly because of a series of maneuvers by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature and a number of court orders requiring it to continue paying for services during the impasse.
Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.
To check out a more complete back story on Munger's interactions with a judge this week, check out Mark Fitton's article at Reboot Illinois.