Shannon Teresi, Comptroller of Illinois 2022 Primary Election Questionnaire – Shaw Local
Full Name: Shannon Teresi
What office are you looking for? Illinois Comptroller
What offices, if any, have you already held? McHenry County Auditor (elected)
City: Crystal Lake, IL
Occupation: Certified Public Accountant, McHenry County Auditor
Northern Illinois University – Masters in Accounting / Bachelor of Science for Accounting (Leadership Scholarships) –
Beta Alpha Phi – Accounting Fraternity – Reporting Director
McHenry County Community College – Associates in Science (Presidential Talent Scholarship and President of the Student Senate and Financial Officer
Campaign website: shannonteresi.com
What is the role of the Illinois comptroller?
The role is the state’s chief accountant who maintains the state’s chart of accounts and tax books. They are responsible for the effective and efficient operations of the state government, which means they are responsible for the statewide financial direction. My opponent is not qualified to be a comptroller, she is not even an accountant, but a career politician handpicked by Mike Madigan. I am a Certified Public Accountant with a proven track and financial leadership experience that the state has not had before. The state is the most corrupt and financially mismanaged in the nation and I will put the state’s finances on track and be transparent to the people of Illinois and serve as “the people’s accountant.”
Why should people vote for you?
I am a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner and Certified Internal Auditor. I’ve taken on entrenched politicians in McHenry County and written financial statements for McHenry County and audited financial statements for Fortune 500 companies. questioned my integrity in carrying out this work for which I am qualified. I am indebted to God, to constituents, and to a code of ethical standards as a CPA, and that is what I will bring to the Office of the Comptroller. As an accountant, you must be prepared to speak some hard truths to achieve financial health. Controller Mendoza has proven she won’t tell the hard truth. I’m going.
Should Illinois Consider Merging the Offices of Comptroller and Treasurer?
Saving Illinois taxpayers money is paramount, and I support fellow candidate Tom Demmer who proposed combining the two offices earlier this year. During my tenure as McHenry County Auditor, I have proven that systems can be put in place to protect the independence of the offices responsible for handling taxpayers’ money. We’ve stopped practices in McHenry County like printing promotional materials for politicians with taxpayer dollars, which Comptroller Mendoza is currently considering doing with refund checks.
What is the comptroller’s role in maintaining Illinois’ tax integrity?
The comptroller is the elected chief financial officer in the state of Illinois and is expected to provide leadership in rooting out corruption, fiscal integrity, and ethical reform. As a Certified Fraud Examiner and Certified Public Accountant, I will restore financial integrity and restore people’s confidence. The comptroller is the people’s accountant, responsible for tracking and disbursing taxpayers’ money to pay state bills. Annual financial reports are of paramount importance, which the current comptroller fails to do. Every year, the state publishes financial reports late and often with qualified information, which means that it is unreliable, inaccurate and unverified information. It’s not good practice for businesses, for your own accounting, and it shouldn’t be for the state government.
What safeguards are needed to prohibit fraud in state government contracts and billing?
My record shows that I have systems in place in McHenry County to pay bills on time, be transparent about what is paid, and eliminate corrupt practices that waste taxpayer dollars. Under my leadership, McHenry County has maintained a AAA rating and we are debt free. McHenry County has a stronger net position than the state of Illinois due to sound financial practices. With this experience, I will ensure that taxpayers know exactly what their taxes are used for.
The state should promote its Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline not only within state government, but throughout the state and encourage not only employees, but also vendors and taxpayers to report fraud, waste and abuse. I did it in McHenry County and I will do it for the state. As a Certified Fraud Examiner, I will lead ethics and corruption reform. I will work closely with the Office of Inspector General and identify the risks of fraud and the mechanisms that can be put in place to reduce them.
What will be your main legislative priorities during your term, and why?
First and foremost, we need accurate financial information that we can rely on to make the tough choices that need to be made. The Office of the Comptroller issued qualified financial reports in 2021 (for fiscal year 2020), which meant that the data was incomplete and unreliable. And in 2022, Comptroller Mendoza forced lawmakers to craft a budget based on a 5-page interim financial report, as opposed to the roughly 400-page full annual financial report (ACFR). Second, the state must tackle spending. Even someone who isn’t an accountant can tell you that if your expenses are growing faster than your income, that’s an unsustainable situation. This is what we face in Illinois.
How would you rate the Legislature’s and Governor’s approaches to addressing state finances over the past 4 years? What more should be done?
A simple fact that Governor Pritzker and Comptroller Mendoza cannot hide is that year after year during this administration, the state’s net position has deteriorated, which means we are shouldering more debt than revenue. that we generate. You don’t have to be an accountant to know that this is an untenable situation. We need a comptroller who can do the necessary work, highlight waste, fraud and abuse, and put systems in place to save taxpayers’ money. Instead, we have a comptroller beholden to the governor and his own political ambition. This is not a recipe for success, it is a recipe for misleading financial information that will continue to damage this state’s potential for the future.
I will put state finances on track, transparent and accountable to the taxpayer, by identifying and eliminating wasteful spending. We need to review all areas of our government. To do this, we need to build a team of people who are dedicated to eliminating waste and moving programs that should be outside of state government to the private sector, so that resources can be used where they are. most needed. We need to ask the hard questions. I will lead the charge. We did it in McHenry County and I will make changes for the state.
Should the comptroller have more discretion over which state bills get paid and when, and will you ask?
The state’s main financial officers, the treasurer and the comptroller, need to be on the same page when it comes to paying the state’s bills. This is one of the reasons the office combination can be a positive change for Illinois finances. Not only will this save taxpayers money, but it will also provide a unified body that can take action to manage state finances. We can put effective buffers in place to protect the comptroller’s independence with respect to auditing and financial reporting, but combining these offices is a smart financial move for the state.
What more can the comptroller’s website do to make state and local finances transparent to the public?
Taxpayers deserve more transparency than what they got from this controller. The Debt Transparency Report is filled with warnings about what is NOT included in their reports, and it is telling that Governor Pritzker and Comptroller Mendoza keep such a tight grip on the finances that they free up. State debts overall increased dramatically under Governor Pritzker and Mendoza. They took out more loans to pay the unpaid bills, so they offered no real reform. They used federal funds to remedy their mismanagement which impacts the daily lives of taxpayers. We are coming out of a financial cliff, which Moody’s says could happen in a recession.
The comptroller’s office is responsible for overseeing state cemeteries and crematoria. How will you approach this office duty?
Cemeteries and crematoriums are places we hold sacred, and that is how I will treat this duty as Comptroller. We must take care of these spaces because those who visit them always take care of the loved ones whose remains are buried there. I promise to treat our state’s cemeteries and crematoria with the utmost respect that those who have left us as Comptroller deserve. I will help make the Comptroller’s Office more easily accessible and useful to these businesses, so they can focus on helping those they serve in our communities. I will meet regularly with industry associations and constituents to ensure their needs are met and open lines of communication are established. Finally, I will ensure that applicable state laws and best practices are followed to ensure that we serve citizens to the best of our abilities.
Should Illinois’ tax structure be changed to generate more revenue?
Illinois is still the highest or second highest taxed state in the nation. This is one of the main reasons why we lose over 100,000 people every year. Solving government debt problems starts with making wise financial decisions, not raising taxes. We need a controller who can identify wasteful spending and take action to eliminate it. Our current controller can’t or won’t make these calls, but I’m able and willing. With proper financial management, Illinois can become the envy of every state in the country, which will attract more businesses and people.