By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
State Rep. Tom Cross wants to be Illinois treasurer and act as a watchdog for taxpayers.
Cross -- who has been in the Illinois House for 21 year, 11 as House Republican leader -- stopped in Quincy on Thursday as part of a two-day, seven-city tour to launch his campaign.
"The numbers are scary," Cross said during a stop at Quincy Regional Airport. "When you look at the unemployment figures: The worst in the country with the exception of one other state, the worst funded pension system in the country, a bill backlog of $7 billion to $8 billion. I think you can be the fiscal watchdog for the people of the state of Illinois in that treasurer's office, and that's what I want to do with it," Cross said.
The Republican from Oswego said he is willing to take lawmakers or governors to court if they violate the state law. He added that the Illinois constitution requires a balanced budget, but that rule has been violated for years.
"I was a prosecutor for nine years, and that's a positive in this office for me. The courts are not always the way to solve problems, but I'm not afraid to go to court to say we will do that to balance the budget," Cross said.
Cross promised to give out information on state finances every month so taxpayers know how the state is doing. He also wants to establish a government integrity unit within the treasurer's office to review financial documents and ensure their accuracy and protect state pension funds.
"When you can be a teacher for a day and become a part of the teacher pension system, that's not acceptable. That kind of fraud and abuse is unfair to taxpayers and retirees," Cross said.
Cross said it will take years to restore the state to financial health, but he said the first job is to "stop the bleeding" and pass balanced budgets that include funds to pay down overdue bills.