January 14, 2019
SPRINGFIELD, IL — Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza was sworn in Monday to her second term as Comptroller. Here is the text of the speech she delivered:
Good morning, Illinois. Thank you so much. I am so honored to share this moment with you.
I’d like to thank Judge Rossana Fernandez for swearing me in just now. I’m so blessed to have been joined by my 83-year-old mother, the original Susana Mendoza, and for the record – the only person who tells me what to do. Thank you to my husband David, the greatest man in the world, my love, and the greatest unsung hero in my life of public service. And my heart is overflowing with pride in knowing that our most perfect creation was that little boy holding the bible for his mommy - our 6-year-old son, David Quinten.
When I first ran for Comptroller in the middle of this state’s worst fiscal crisis, people asked me, “Why on God’s Earth do you want to be Comptroller? The job has never been harder. The state’s finances have never been in worse shape.” I told them “That’s exactly why I want to be Comptroller. Because when I see a problem, I need to fix it. I can’t stand on the sidelines.”
I think some of that mindset comes from my parents, Mexican immigrants who did everything they could to give their kids a better life. It also comes from my son, the greatest inspiration I have to solve problems and try to make things better.
And I am proud of the work we’ve done in the Comptroller’s office. Together with the most dedicated staff, we corrected priorities to focus on the state’s most vulnerable populations. We worked with and prioritized small businesses and non-profits around the state to make sure they could make payroll and survive the budget crisis.
We launched a Transparency Revolution, opening the books to see for the first time how many old bills state agencies were holding. We discovered the budget impasse cost taxpayers $1 billion in Late Payment Interest Penalties. We will now require governors to show in their budgets how they plan to pay down those interest penalties. We also stopped governors from hiding their staff on state agency payrolls. We pushed the governor to refinance much of our backlog of unpaid bills, which will save taxpayers $4 to $6 billion dollars.
In the weeks and months to come, I will be laying out this year’s plans including a legislative agenda to continue that Transparency Revolution.
The Comptroller’s office will be the best source for numbers and predictive modeling, setting the tone for discussions about state finance and budget - learning from the mistakes of the past to chart the most responsible course forward.
The impasse was a dark time for state government, and for the Comptroller’s office in particular. But today we turn the page on that unfortunate chapter in our state’s history. And there’s a lesson I want us to carry into what I’m certain will be a brighter future for our state.
That lesson is that the morally correct thing to do is almost always the fiscally responsible one too.
We have a lot of work to do. We still face a $7.5 billion bill backlog. Social services, higher education and infrastructure have all been left behind. Our state workforce has been beaten down by understaffing and past administrations not honoring contracts made with workers
But we also gather here at a time of great hope. With new faces. Governor Pritzker; Lt. Governor Stratton; Attorney General Raoul; so many new members of the House and Senate. Democrats and Republicans. I look forward to working with all of you.
In 2016, my heart was touched that the people of Illinois chose me to serve out the last two years of my good friend Judy Baar Topinka’s term. I tried to carry on in her bipartisan tradition by passing my legislative agenda with unanimous or near-unanimous bipartisan majorities. I know a path to bipartisan success exists because I’ve walked it.
Illinois must reinvest in our schools and universities; tackle our pension problems and recruit and retain businesses from Chicago to Cairo.
We’re not just budgeting and making policies for this year – We're building for the next generation because we want our kids and grandkids to stay here and have even more opportunities than we did.
Make no mistake about it. Illinois is a great state. And you, the people, are its greatest resource. Together, there is nothing we can’t do. I’m excited to know that our best days are yet to come and that today we start anew.
Thank you, and God Bless you.
View the swearing-in ceremony and speech here.