Candidate Full Name: Michael W. Frerichs
Office: Illinois Treasurer
Email Address: Mike@mikeforillinois.com
Web Site: http://www.FrerichsforIllinois.com
Campaign Name: Friends of Frerichs
Campaign Office Mailing Address: 45 E. University Ave, Suite 205, Champaign, IL 61820
Survey Questions (Character limit of 2,000 per response)
1. Please tell us about yourself, your background and why you believe you are qualified to hold this office.
I'm running for Treasurer as the only candidate with the financial know-how to get the Treasurer's office functioning smoothly and transparently for the people of Illinois. I am a Certified Public Finance Officer and when I served as Champaign County Auditor, I was awarded the prestigious Certificate for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the national Government Finance Officers Association. I want to bring accountability, transparency and competency to Illinois' finances, and to put state investments to work to help build out the middle class. I will use my financial background along with my consistent advocacy for working families in Illinois to reorient Illinois' investment strategy. I will push for modernization of the Treasurer's office so that taxpayer dollars are better utilized. I will safeguard the State's money and ensure that our tax dollars are being invested wisely so that retired teachers, police, and firefighters get a good return on their savings. Recent reports of cronyism and misconduct in the Treasurer's office need to be addressed immediately so citizens can again trust that Illinois' chief investment officer has one thing in mind and one thing only; making good investments on behalf of our taxpayers. It's time for the Treasurer's office to again be focused on ethical government, job growth, expanding opportunity, and rebuilding our state.
2. What are some things you would do to protect the state's investments while also streamlining the office to reduce costs?
I will call for an audit of the office on my first day as Treasurer. I will instruct my staff and outside experts to help identify programs that are redundant and opportunities to move more of the office's functions online. A recent Sun-Times article identified a massive internship program dedicated to the I-Cash program that ended up costing Illinois taxpayers more than $300,000 over two years, and unfortunately was packed with individuals who were connected to elected officials and donors supportive to the current Treasurer. That internship program is a natural place to look for reducing costs. Additional measures to streamline costs include not having the Treasurer travel the state widely promoting the I-Cash program. I will push to have more of that program's outreach and promotion online which will help cut travel and marketing costs. I also support combining the offices of Comptroller and Treasurer and pledge to work with whoever is the next Comptroller to look for ways to reduce duplicative services and staff.
3. What are your thoughts on the passage of the Pension Reform bill? How do you think it should be implemented?
I did not vote for SB1. I will not support any legislation that unfairly punishes our seniors for simply doing what was required of them while the state of Illinois failed to live up to their end of the bargain. Teachers, police and firefighters, and state workers like my Mom, a retired university secretary, should not be penalized for the political misdeeds of the past. Career politicians like my opponent, Tom Cross, and multiple corrupt governors approved the irresponsible budgets, borrowing and pension holidays that created this mess in the first place - that's where the real blame lies.
I have voted for and co-sponsored legislation to put an end to pension holidays and more pension borrowing, as well as for needed reforms that would protect both taxpayers and retirees. The difference between the vote on SB1 and my continuing support for meaningful pension reform is that Illinois' pensioners were wrongly excluded from crafting this bill; a bill I believe is unconstitutional.
In Illinois, we have made a promise to our public workers - they pay into their pension plan every paycheck and they will not have to participate in Social Security. SB1 jeopardizes that pact. When we cut pension payments to middle class families, we're leaving retirees without a back-up plan, and that's not right.
As State Treasurer I will work to bring together public sector unions, interest groups and members of the general assembly to negotiate a better, constitutional pension reform bill that protects retirement security for our public employees, while addressing the long-term challenges facing the State's pension systems.
4. If elected Treasurer, what do you hope to accomplish?
I will use my financial background to bring transparency and accountability to Illinois' finances and end cronyism and corruption in the Treasurer's office by ordering an audit of the office on my first day as Treasurer. I will revamp the Treasurer's college savings plans to help bring down costs and expand enrollment in the Bright Start and Bright Directions programs. I will invest state monies in Illinois companies and projects that earn a safe and solid return for taxpayers and helps grow our local economy by putting our people back to work.