An issue in the race for state treasurer is whether it makes sense for the treasurer to sue the General Assembly if the budget isn’t balanced. A balanced budget is required under the state Constitution, but there’s no clear enforcement mechanism, and there are ways to make a budget appear technically balanced on paper when in the real world it isn’t. State Rep. Tom Cross (R-Oswego), the Republican nominee for treasurer, says suing is something the treasurer must do.
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“If you are the treasurer and have taken an oath of office to uphold that office, knowing the Constitution requires a balanced budget, I believe you’re in a position to have to say to the General Assembly: We don’t have enough money,” he said. But State Sen. Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign), the Democrat, says the courts are not interested in the treasurer suing over political decisions. “No lawyer I’ve talked to says the treasurer has any special standing to sue the General Assembly on the budget,” he said.
Standing is a legal concept in which a plaintiff is required to demonstrate to the court that he or she is somehow connected to or harmed by the matter under litigation; those who lack standing cannot sue. Frerichs says suing over the budget, which is a political document, is not the role of the treasurer.
The two haggled over this in a debate Wednesday before the City Club of Chicago.