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Do We Need A New Lt. Governor?

Updated: Wednesday, August 7 2013, 03:51 PM CDT

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon has told supporters that she'll announce the next move in her political future on Wednesday. She has already stated that she won't seek another term in her current office.

That means Gov. Pat Quinn will have to decide who will be his new running mate in 2014.

But some lawmakers think the answer should be no one, because they want to eliminate the office of the lieutenant governor all together.

A measure to launch a constitutional referendum on that idea passed the Illinois House by wide margins in the spring, but wasn't voted on by the Senate.

"From the budget and appropriations process, and looking through some of that stuff, I think a lot of the things that are done in the lieutenant governor's office are duplicative of things that are done elsewhere," Republican Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer said. "I think it's more of a figurehead position in the case the governor runs off or does something wrong."

The measure that Davidsmeyer co-sponsored this year would have changed the line of the succession. With no lieutenant governor, the attorney general would replace the governor if needed.

But UIS professor Kent Redfield believes there is some value to the right kind of number two executive.

"Where it is useful to have a partner in government," Redfield said. "If you've got somebody that is effective, say, in terms of dealing with the legislature."

After the last gubernatorial election, lawmakers changed the process so that the lieutenant governor candidates run in the primary with candidates for governor.

"The people that are in positions of power in the legislature feel like this is going to be a better arrangement," Redfield said. "If it turns out that they go through a couple of cycles and end up with huge problems, then it can be revisited."

But Davidsmeyer and many members of the general assembly would like to revisit the elimination of the office now.

"I don't see why not," Davidsmeyer said. "I think we should keep looking at it, and there's no reason why the public shouldn't want to do this, and get rid of one unneeded office and save a couple million dollars in the process."

Proponents of the bill say eliminating the entire office could save taxpayers $2 million per year.

The lieutenant governor herself makes just over $135,000 per year.
Reporting in Springfield, Mike Brooks, ABC NewsChannel 20.

Do We Need A New Lt. Governor?

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