No need for 'lite' governor
Illinois has more government than it either needs or can afford, and it's probably going to stay that way.
The Illinois House recently voted to allow the public to vote on a state constitutional amendment that would abolish the office of lieutenant governor. The idea makes a lot of sense. The office has only a few minor duties, and the person in the office only has as much influence as his or her boss, the governor, allows.
Current Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon recently announced that she won't be running for re-election to that post, preferring to try her chances seeking an office with real duties. Other lieutenant governors have either quit (Dave O'Neal) or publicly discussed quitting (Robert Kustra). Former Lt. Gov. George Ryan used the office as a launching pad to secretary of state, governor and prison.
Supporters of shutting the office down estimate it would save taxpayers $1.8 million.
The reality, however, is that the office exists largely to serve would-be officeholders. The same criticism can be made of the comptroller's office and the treasurer's office, which should be merged into a single office and would be if House Speaker Michael Madigan would allow the Illinois House to vote on a proposed amendment to do so.
Madigan's unstated criticism about the treasurer/comptroller merger and closing the lieutenant governor's office is that it would give ambitious politicians two fewer offices to run for, two fewer opportunities to use a public office to promote themselves for even higher public office.
Asked about abolishing the lieutenant governor's office, Gov. Quinn said, "I was lieutenant governor for six years, and I believe in that office, for sure."
Of course he does. Being lieutenant governor allowed him to become governor. But that's not a good enough excuse for wasting tax money on jobs that serve little or no public purpose.