STERLING – Tom Cross, the Republican candidate for state treasurer, said the office he’s seeking should be viewed as one that can help turn Illinois around.
Cross, R-Oswego, was elected as a state representative in 1992 and House Republican leader in 2002. He’s running against Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, for the position that will be vacated by Dan Rutherford.
In an interview with Sauk Valley Media on Tuesday, he said the treasurer is in a position to force the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget; can take a role in rooting out corruption in the state; and create more transparency about the state’s true finances, in addition to the traditional role to invest the state’s money.
They’re three of the issues Cross said he’d address if elected.
“You may agree with those things. You may not,” he said. “But I think it’s important for people to articulate what they’re going to do. Sometimes we say, as Republicans we say, ‘The Democrats have done such a bad job, you’re going to vote for us. We’re not Democrats.’
“Now, I think they have done a bad job, but I think we also have to say what we’re going to do.”
In 2013, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged the state with securities fraud for misleading municipal bond investors about the state’s approach to funding its pension obligation.
The charge stemmed from sale of $2.2 billion worth of municipal bonds from 2005 to early 2009. The state settled with the commission.
If elected, Cross said he’ll create an integrity unit to be proactive in dealing with corruption or fraud.
“When we read about fraud, corruption or the SEC comes along, or the U.S. Attorney’s Office comes along, it’s too late,” he said.
Also on the November ballot will be the race between Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner. While Cross said he supports Rauner and agrees with him on most issues, a service tax isn’t one of them.
Rauner’s plan for expanded sales taxes to the service industry includes printing, public relations, armored car services, advertising sales and interior design and decorating, among about 30 services.
It also calls for a property tax freeze.
Cross said he was open to “philosophical discussions” about tax policies and a service tax, but too often that discussion isn’t welcomed.
“We have been a state that has just seen people spend money that we don’t have,” he said. “And we need to learn to live within our means. We’ve got $35 billion. That’s more money than we’ve ever had as a state. And there’s this continuous discussion and thirst for more money and more money and more money. I think the service tax is a mistake.”