What is a Comptroller?

The Comptroller's Office was created by the Constitutional Convention of 1970 as an expanded replacement for the Office of the Auditor of Public Accounts. The Office of the Comptroller traces its ancestry to 1799 when an auditor of public accounts was established under the jurisdiction of the Northwest Territory. Elijah Conway Berry served as Auditor of Public Accounts when Illinois was a territory of the United States and continued his duties as Auditor when Illinois became a state in 1818. Berry's successor, James Stapp, took office when he was only 27 years of age.

Several colorful personalities held the office during the 19th century. James Shields, who served from 1841 to 1843, challenged Abraham Lincoln to a duel over unflattering newspaper editorials he attributed to Lincoln. The conflict between the two state officials was resolved before any bloodshed occurred, but the incident serves as an interesting footnote in the history of the office. The office existed under the name Auditor of Public Accounts until the state's first elected Comptroller took the oath of office in early 1973.

In 1970, Illinois' latest constitution established the Comptroller as an elected officer in the Executive Branch of state government. Illinois citizens select the state's Comptroller in statewide elections. By law, the Comptroller is the state's Chief Fiscal Control Officer, responsible for the legal, efficient, and effective operations of state government.

Illinois' first Comptroller, George W. Lindberg, was inaugurated in January 1973. By July 1974, he had initiated the Office's first automated accounting system. Comptroller Lindberg vitalized the office by providing understandable explanations of complex fiscal issues. Following Lindberg, nine individuals have served as Comptroller: Michael J. Bakalis served from 1977 to 1979, Roland W. Burris from 1979 to 1991, Dawn Clark Netsch from 1991 to 1995, Loleta A. Didrickson from 1995 to 1999, Dan Hynes from 1999 to 2011, Judy Baar Topinka from 2011 to 2014, and Leslie Munger from 2015 to 2016. Susana A. Mendoza was elected to the office in 2016.

Meet Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza

Susana A.Mendoza

Illinois Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza (Democrat) took office on Dec. 5, 2016, serving the last two years of her friend, the late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's, last term. She was re-elected in 2018. Mendoza is the first Hispanic independently elected to statewide office in Illinois.

Since becoming Comptroller, Mendoza has transformed the office, shifting priority to the funding of nursing homes, hospice centers, schools and the state's most vulnerable citizens during and since the state's two-year budget impasse. Although the Comptroller is charged with paying the state's bills as they arrive, the budget crisis forced the office to prioritize which bills would be paid first. During this period, Mendoza became an advocate for stability, comprehensive budget solutions and open and transparent financial reporting, winning accolades from agencies that rate the state's bonds.