On file: Comptroller Susana Mendoza candidate for re-election; against merging the offices of comptroller and treasurer
ILLINOIS (WMBD) – The general election is just under three months away.
One of the statewide races voters will see on the ballot is for the comptroller’s office.
Controller Susana Mendoza joined WMBD’s Matt Sheehan for this week’s On the Record segment.
MS: Let’s talk about some financial news in the state of Illinois. Your office says we have a zero day bill payment cycle. Can you explain what this means for taxpayers?
SM: “We had a general revenue fund payment cycle, as you just mentioned, of a grand total of zero days for the first time in decades. That means Illinois salespeople weren’t waiting for a day to get paid. Every invoice that came to my office that day, as controller, on July 1 was paid on July 1. It was the first time we had been so caught up in decades,” Mendoza said. “Today, our oldest invoice is only 11 days old. You wouldn’t hope or expect the state to be zero late payment normally, we want to be within 30 days, that’s our goal.
MS: Your office says Illinois has had six credit upgrades in the past year. By whom are these revaluations granted and what do they mean in terms of financial stability for the State?
SM: “These upgrades are an incredible achievement. Especially considering that we are still in a global pandemic. All six have been earned throughout this pandemic,” Mendoza said. “No other state can say it received all six full credit upgrades in such a short time.”
Credits come from Fitch, S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s. Credit upgrades from Fitch and S&P took place at Illinois, Moody’s in April.
“We’re also completely caught up in all of our Medicaid-related bills,” Mendoza said. “Medicaid bills are the bills I pay first because they give us the biggest federal game. Think of it as an increase in the value of a dollar. For every dollar I pay in Medicaid bills, the federal government gives me back just over 50 cents.
Mendoza said his office is also completely caught up in paying bills related to group health insurance, K-12 bills, higher education bills, and other bills to run the school. government at the state level.
MS: Looking ahead to November, you have a challenger in this year’s general election. What are you doing now to prepare for this race?
SM: “The same thing I’ve been doing since the day I was elected. I work incredibly hard and have led our state through six full-credit upgrades. I have traveled all 102 counties of Illinois and will continue to do so. Speaking of great work, and I’ve reformed this office in a way that no controller before me has ever done,” Mendoza said. “I have championed and led transparency reforms, things that have never been seen in this state. Like my Debt Transparency Act which allows me to see the debts of all the different state agencies. »
When Mendoza walked into the comptroller’s office, she said she was unable to see the debt of other state agencies.
“I had to pass a law to allow me to do my job like all the controllers before me should have been able to do,” Mendoza said. “Now not only do I get monthly reports from state agencies on their debts and the age of their bills and whether or not they are collecting interest penalties for late payment, but I report to the public and to the press. I put out monthly reports based on the reports that come in so people can understand what’s going on.”
MS: Finally, there are legislators who want to combine the offices of the Treasurer and the Comptroller. Are you in favor of this idea?
SM: “I’m not. Not only am I not in favor of this, and the ratings agencies have already said that if this happened it would be something that would give us negative credit. Why? Because it would be a reduction spectacular internal controls,” Mendoza said. “The two biggest government embezzlement schemes in the history of the United States of America both happened here in Illinois. Both were when the offices of comptroller and treasurer were held by the same person.
The first scheme Mendoza refers to dates back to 1956, when Orville Hodge was the state auditor.
A 1986 Chicago Tribune article headline reads: “ORVILLE HODGE, AUDITOR WHO STOLE THE STATE”.
“He embezzled $6 million, which today would be around $54 billion. That’s an outrageous amount of money. He was eventually caught and went to jail,” Mendoza said. in 2012, Rita Crundwell might remind you of something. She was comptroller and treasurer. She embezzled, at that time, 54 million dollars of taxpayers’ money. In a small town like Dixon, Illinois…that you can steal $54 million from taxpayers is an incredible scam.
Mendoza said having both a treasurer and a comptroller helps improve the transparency of state government.
The general election takes place on November 8, 2022. Comptroller Mendoza’s opponent is Shannon Theresi. Sheehan contacted Theresi for a future interview.