Illinois hasn't had a lieutenant governor in over a year, and following the Scott Lee Cohen debacle, House Speaker Mike Madigan wants to keep it that way.
Madigan proposed a constitutional amendment Wednesday to eliminate the office entirely. The move comes just days after Cohen, elected to be the Democratic nominee for lieutentant governor, left the race amid a firestorm of ugly allegations.
The state has had a lieutenant governor since its formation in 1818, the Sun-Times explains. In order to remove the position, the House and Senate would need to pass an amendment with a three-fifths majority. Then, it would go to the voters. If either 60% of people vote for the measure itself, or more than 50% of all voters support it, then the amendment would take effect.
The Daily Herald reports that the lieutenant governor's office commands a budget of roughly $2.5 million a year. The lieutenant governor fills in for the governor if he dies or leaves office, which is how current Governor Pat Quinn came to power in January of 2009.
When Quinn's primary opponent, Dan Hynes, proposed eliminating the position as a cost-cutting measure during a debate on "Chicago Tonight." Quinn responded: "It's been around since 1818. I think it's a good office. I think we've had some good lieutenant governors: Paul Simon, Neil Hartigan and Pat Quinn. I think you're just doing it out of pique because you don't like me."
The Governor's office repeated that standpoint to The Huffington Post Chicago in an email Wednesday afternoon, writing, "Governor Pat Quinn favors keeping the Illinois Office of Lieutenant Governor. Having served as Illinois Lieutenant Governor for nearly six years, Governor Quinn knows the office can serve as a strong voice for everyday people, including veterans, service members and their families."
When asked if the Governor would fight Speaker Madigan's measure, the Governor's office had no comment.