Cross sees sharp contrast with Frerichs
CHAMPAIGN — A Republican candidate for state treasurer says there would be a "stark" contrast between him and the likely Democratic candidate, state Sen. Mike Frerichs of Champaign, if the two face off next November.
The 67 percent income tax increase approved by Democratic lawmakers in January 2011 — which Frerichs voted for — will be an issue, said former House Republican leader Tom Cross.
The state representative from Oswego, and now one of at least two Republican candidates for treasurer, was endorsed Friday by a number of local GOP officials.
Also running for the Republican nomination for treasurer is DuPage County Auditor Bob Grogan.
Cross said he didn't fear Frerichs and the more than $650,000 the Champaign Democrat has in his campaign fund. Cross reported about $190,000 in his campaign fund on June 30, but has raised at least $180,800 since.
"I think there's going to be a sharp contrast between Mike and myself," said Cross, a member of the House since 1993. "You've seen him on financial issues in the exact opposite spot where we are, whether it's on taxes, whether it's on spending, on voting for unbalanced budgets. I think voters in this state want somebody in the treasurer's office who is going to be engaged in fixing the state and understands that when you pass unbalanced budgets you end up with $8 billion in unpaid bills, when you vote for tax increases you put pressure on Illinois families and taxpayers.
"Regardless of money, the contrast will be sharp, stark and I think people will want somebody with a vision of how we can fix these things."
Frerichs, said Cross, "has voted for tax increases, has been a very vocal proponent of tax increases. Sharp contrast. We welcome the opportunity to show those contrasts."
Cross said he opposes making the higher income tax increase permanent. The individual rate is scheduled to drop from the current 5 percent to 3.75 percent in 2015, then to 3.5 percent in 2025.
Asked if the state can get by without making the income tax increase permanent, he said, "I think we can and I think the General Assembly needs to learn to live within their means. They haven't learned to live within their means and that's a real problem."
He noted that past Republican Gov. Jim Edgar "was able to say no.
"You have to have that mind set. Look, everyone that comes in to see members of the General Assembly has a great idea, and they need money and it sounds very compelling, but you need to have people who can say no, and that's uncomfortable, and that's no fun. But if everybody ran their homes like we ran Illinois, everyone would be in bankruptcy court. We can't keep doing that."
Cross predicted the sate's financial difficulties will continue for years.
"I don't think anyone can expect us to be out of this hole in a year or two. This is going to take a number of years to get out," he said, adding, "I'm of the opinion that we need to focus on the amount of resources we have and live within those means."
He said that if elected treasurer he would "use all the powers of the treasurer's office to say to the members of the General Assembly and to the governor" that budgets must be balanced.
"If you don't, we have to we'll go to court to enforce that provision of the Constitution," Cross pledged.
Cross also said he would create a government integrity unit in the treasurer's office to review spending and would be a "fiscal watchdog" for citizens.
"People say, 'Oh, the treasurer's there just to watch the money. I would suggest to you that if we don't engage in this debate of fixing the state, there will be no money to watch,'" he said.
Cross, 55, was endorsed for the Republican nomination Friday by area Republican state Sens. Dale Righter of Mattoon, Jason Barickman of Bloomington and Chapin Rose of Mahomet, by state Reps. Adam Brown of Champaign and Bill Mitchell of Forsyth, and by Champaign County Republican Chairman Habeeb Habeeb.