November 10, 2010

Rutherford Ready to Change State Government

By Eric Shangraw

November 10, 2010 Updated Nov 10, 2010 at 8:07 PM CDT

State Senator Dan Rutherford is getting ready to wind down his legislative office next month as he gets ready to move into the State Treasurers post.

Eric Shangraw talked with the Pontiac Republican about his plans to cut the size of state government once he's sworn in as a constitutional officer.

Dan Rutherford says the day after he's sworn in as Illinois Treasurer, he'll close six treasurer satellite offices around the state to save money. It won't be much, but it will send a message.

Rutherford says he'll also ask state leaders to stop paying the cost of all seniors in Chicago to ride the CTA for free, regardless of income.

"I intend to support moving away from total free rides for anybody in the senior citizen category," said the Republican. "And to move it towards a means-tested criteria. I understand that the governor does not concur with that. I respect he has his different opinion. But as the finance officer of the state I intend to articulate those concerns," Rutherford said.

Rutherford also promises to work on getting the General Assembly and voters to approve merging the Treasurer office with the State Comptroller. Ironically, the effort would mean Rutherford or Judy Baar Topinka, the Comptroller-elect, would not have an office to run for once they are up for re-election in four years.

"In fact, I've already visited with staff. They are starting to draft the resolutions so we will have them prepared for the early part of the new year when the new General Assembly takes place. Absolutely, we are committed to do this. And I understand it is sort of odd maybe. That you have two people from the same political party that are elected to an office, that the two of them said we want to combine into one and not have two," he said.

Rutherford will maintain a personal business office and campaign headquarters in his hometown of Pontiac. But most of his time will be spent at Treasury offices in Springfield and Chicago. He also promises to flex his muscle as the caretaker of the state's purse. Rutherford says not all borrowing is bad, but he worries about Illinois' mounting debt and the states' ability to pay back loans.

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