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State Lawmakers To Propose Merging Offices Of Treasurer, Comptroller

(CBS) -- Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner could make history when he appoints a new state Comptroller next month. That's because he or she could be the last state comptroller to serve in Illinois.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports whether or not lawmakers can abolish the office is the $12 million question, the money some say you could save by letting the state treasurer pay the state's bills in addition to investing our money.

It won't be easy, but not impossible either, especially since CBS 2 has learned that it'll begin with bi-partisan legislation.

"I intend on introducing again a resolution to combine the two offices," said State Representative Kwame Raoul.

"We pass a constitutional amendment to combine the comptroller and treasurer, the voters approve that in 2016 and by the end of 2018 we have eliminated an unnecessary level of government," said Republican State Senator Matt Murphy.

With its ancient vaults in the basement of the state capitol in Springfield, Illinois' state treasurer is responsible for collecting and investing billions of dollars in revenue. It has come a long way from the days the money was actually kept down here, and is now a highly sophisticated operation.

The comptroller uses that money to pay the bills. Before her death, Judy Baar Topinka's signature was required on all the checks. For years many have wondered why the two offices can't be combined, as they've been in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. Others which have both, are Iowa, Missouri and Indiana which unlike Illinois has a strong bottom line with both budget surpluses and reserves.

"We think our fiscal integrity is just really central to our success," said Indiana Governor Mike Pence. "The Indiana model has been a model that has worked for our state but there are all different kinds of models around the country."

Pence, who spoke at the City Club in Chicago today, says he's a big supporter of Bruce Rauner, though the two appear to disagree over the need to separate the in- and outboxes of the state's treasury.

"That's probably a consolidation that would make sense," Rauner said. "I think it's a mistake to get caught up in fighting about that now I think there is a process in place and but I think we should honor that process but I think we should look at consolidation in that office and some others."

Rauner might want to throw in lieutenant governor as another office you might think about getting rid of. An office one officeholder quit because he didn't have anything to do.

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