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Illinois House votes to abolish office of lieutenant governor

A measure to abolish the office of Illinois lieutenant governor is advancing in Springfield. State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Cary, sponsored the proposed constitutional amendment, and called the lieutenant governor’s office a “luxury” and a waste of its $2 million budget.

“At this point in time, when we can’t pay our bills, when we’re cutting basic social services, it’s a financial issue,” McSweeney said. 

Even the current lieutenant governor, Sheila Simon, said she doesn’t want the position after her term expires. But a Simon spokeswoman said the office should still exist, pointing out that five lieutenant governors eventually became governor, including Illinois’ current governor, Pat Quinn. He inherited the position after then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached in 2008. Quinn won election to the office in 2010.

Still, Simon alluded to wanting a position with more authority when she announced to reporters in February that she won’t run for lieutenant governor in next year’s election.

“I look forward to serving Illinois in a role where I can be an even more effective advocate,” she said.

Under McSweeney’s proposed change to the constitution, Illinois’ Attorney General would be next in line for the governor’s seat starting in the year 2019.

The amendment still needs the support of three-fifths of the Senate. Then it would need support from the voters.

Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.

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