Aug 24, 2018 at 9:21 AM
Following Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 2661, which initially had authorized the Illinois State Treasurer’s office to invest a percentage of administrative funds without the governor’s say-so, incumbent treasurer Michael Frerichs lambasted the move as “putting politics over people.”
Frerichs told the Daily Leader that Rauner’s change, which puts final authorization in gubernatorial hands, violated the principle of separation of powers and could harm municipalities like Pontiac.
The legislation as initially written would have allowed the treasurer’s office to invest up to five percent of administrative funds in stocks of publicly traded American businesses. The bill had broad bipartisan support in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly, with only one “no” vote each in both the Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois Senate.
However, Rauner used his amendatory veto power to change the bill, inserting “with the approval of the governor,” which Frerichs said bypassed his office’s autonomy by “stripping the treasurer’s office of its principal investment role, thereby trampling on the concept of separation of powers.”
“This is a stunning act even by Illinois’ insider and corrupt standards,” the treasurer said. “Before the governor tries to do the treasurer’s job, he should work on doing his own.”
Frerichs said that the investments his office made had wide-ranging impacts on the finances of the state and of residents — and attempts to undermine that authority could have dire consequences. He noted that since 2015, his office has increased investment earnings for the state portfolio from $4 million per month to $22 million per month and increased the investment earnings for the local government portfolio from $50,000 per month to $9 million per month.
“In terms of how (the bill) affects a municipality like Pontiac, these investments affect our ability to raise revenue for the state, and for families who are saving for things like their kids’ college education,” he said.
Rauner would not be unfamiliar with investment, given his private sector background as a venture capitalist; however, Frerichs opined that this was irrelevant, suggesting Rauner was attempting to set precedents with himself — and not the office he held — in mind.
“He probably thinks that he is good at this kind of thing, but why would we change this legislation when you’re not sure if who’s going to replace you will be as good?” Frerichs asked rhetorically. “I think the separation of power is important in our democracy.”
Frerichs felt without that separation, there could be wider detriment felt by the body politic.
“We think that we can earn higher returns in administrative funds that enables higher returns for college-savers and local government to use. That’s our ultimate goal as the chief investment office in the State of Illinois, is to get a better return on investment.
“We know that these millions of dollars that we’re bringing in on interest are millions of dollars that the governor doesn’t have to raise in taxes or millions in cuts he doesn’t have to make in things like education. We think he should do his job, we’ll do ours.”
Rauner is expected to visit Pontiac on Sunday as part of the bicentennial celebration of the ratification of the Illinois Constitution.
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via Pontiac Daily Leader
August 25, 2018 at 08:07AM