Amendment to get rid of ‘lite gov’ is squashed

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State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, speaks during a Legislative Audit Commission meeting to decide whether in 2014. File Photo.| Ashlee Rezin/for Sun-Times Media

A north suburban lawmaker says a constitutional amendment that would have saved the state $1.6 million annually by eliminating the position of lieutenant governor was “hijacked” by its own Senate sponsor on Tuesday.

After passing the Illinois House, the constitutional amendment failed in a Senate executive committee because its chief Senate sponsor, State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, tried to change the amendment’s line of succession to compensate for the absence of a lieutenant governor.

Brady’s amendment sought to replace the governor, if there is a need, with the highest ranking member of the governor’s party.

In state Rep. David McSweeney’s constitutional amendment, the line of succession began with the Illinois Attorney General — regardless of the elected official’s party.

“Bill Brady hijacked my amendment without my permission with the intent to kill it,” McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said on Tuesday after the amendment died. “I tried to call him multiple times for days, and when I finally did speak with him last week he made it clear that he didn’t support the amendment. And what he did on Friday without my permission is he filed a poison pill amendment.”

During a Senate committee on Tuesday, Brady called the amended constitutional amendment, which failed. Then he had another chance to call up McSweeney’s original amendment, but didn’t, which essentially killed the amendment.

In order for Brady’s amendment to have passed, it would have required the House to go into a special session on Saturday because the bill must be read three times in both the Senate and House.

While the Illinois House had approved the amendment, an identical Senate bill was rejected because of fears the governor could be replaced by a member of the opposite party. Brady’s amendment addressed that concern, yet it still failed to pass the committee.

Sources say Brady’s amendment may have been shot down because of partisan issues — Democrats not in line with the amended line of succession.

But Brady said he’d rather wait for an amendment that gets it “right.”

“It didn’t pass the Senate last week, an identical bill. I don’t know why it would pass. Even if it did, I would rather have the right constitutional amendment and wait for it, than passing a wrong one just to do it,” Brady said.

Brady said he had a “very long” conversation with McSweeney last week and doesn’t agree with his description that the amendment was “hijacked.”

“I picked it up and I believed it was a flawed amendment,” Brady said. “I like David McSweeney. He’s a good representative, a fellow Republican, but I differ with him on this issue.”

Brady said McSweeney’s amendment would have been a step “backwards” and would have allowed for succession from someone who the governor didn’t run with.

“Let’s learn from our past mistakes that succession should come from the same party,” Brady said.

The deadline for constitutional amendments to pass — in order to make it onto November’s ballot — is Saturday at 11:59 p.m.

So that means there will be a lieutenant governor in Illinois until 2023.

McSweeney says Brady’s actions stuck the taxpayers with a major expenditure.

“The thing that really bothers me is funding for the developmentally disabled is being cut. Autism funding is being cut, and we’re funding the lieutenant governor’s office,” McSweeney said. “I think it’s a disgrace.”

Illinois Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti said she supports consolidating the offices of comptroller and treasurer, which she says would save the state $12 million.

McSweeney’s $1.6 million savings estimate is the average money appropriated for the lieutenant governor’s office from fiscal years 2011 through 2015.

In 2013, McSweeney sponsored the same constitutional amendment. Back then it passed the House with 83 votes, but stumbled in the Senate.

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