Despite this, Illinois taxpayers provide each of the state’s elected officials
with residences in the capital city.
The cost for the taxpayers to do this varies.
Gov. Pat Quinn is provided with the Executive Mansion. The 157-year-old manor is
a historical site that has a 16-room apartment for the governor to use.
“I really don’t care where the elected officials choose to live,” said Mike
Lawrence, past director of the Paul Simon Institute for Public Affairs at
Southern Illinois University. “What’s bothersome to me is that many spend so
little time in Springfield. That’s sends the wrong message to state workers. It
says they aren’t valued. And it cuts down on communication.”
But Lawrence added the last constitutional officer he can remember choosing to
make Springfield his primary residence was Gov. Jim Edgar, for whom he worked as
a press secretary and senior adviser. Former comptroller Dan Hynes also lived in
Springfield while his wife was attending medical school at Southern Illinois
The trend speaks to the diminishing political importance of Springfield said Jim
Nowlan, a former state lawmaker and researcher at the University of Illinois.
“It’s almost like Chicago is becoming the shadow capital of Illinois,” he said.
“The constitutional officers work out of the Thompson Center in Chicago. And
most of the cabinet officers work out of Chicago, too. Springfield is almost
become a hinterland outpost.”
The cost of providing housing to state officials is small in comparison to the
overall state budget, but it is not inconsequential.
Illinois News Network obtained the lease agreements for each of the state’s
constitutional officers and here is the monthly expense each has incurred for
their Springfield residences:
[to top of second column]
Gov. Pat Quinn: provided with Executive Mansion.
Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon: $935
Treasurer Dan Rutherford: $1,500
Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka: $1,500
Secretary of State Jesse White: $1,250
Attorney General Lisa Madigan: $850
“I never knew that taxpayers were paying for the cost of these
residences,” said Nowlan, who was the GOP lieutenant governor
nominee in 1972. “I guess a case can be made for the taxpayers
paying for this. After all, they only will hold the office
temporarily and our required to have a residence in Springfield.”
But not everyone sees things this way.
David From, state director of Americans for Prosperity, said while
it seems silly that the state constitution mandates Springfield
residences for statewide officials, he also believes that the
officials themselves should foot the bill.
“Obviously, state officials should be spending quite a bit of time
in Springfield — that is where state government is located. I have
no problem with them living in the Chicagoland area. That is where
60 percent of the people live. But it seems this is an example of
their being some ambiguity and the taxpayer ends up paying for it.”
State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, said, “Whenever I have a town
hall meeting, someone asks why doesn’t the governor live in
Springfield? My answer is we provide him with a mansion but he won’t
live there. … One has to ask: Why are we making cuts to education,
but can still find money to provide Lisa Madigan with an apartment
in Springfield? If it were left up to me, the constitutional
officers would stay in a Motel 6 when they visit Springfield.”
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