March 04, 2024
Election


Election

Shannon Teresi, Illinois Comptroller 2022 Primary Election Questionnaire

Shannon Teresi

Full Name: Shannon Teresi

What office are you seeking? Illinois Comptroller

What offices, if any, have you previously held? Auditor of McHenry County (elected)

City: Crystal Lake, IL

Occupation: Certified Public Accountant, Auditor of McHenry County

Education:

Northern Illinois University - Masters in Accounting/Bachelors in Science for Accounting (Leadership tuition scholarships) -

Beta Alpha Phi - Accounting Fraternity - Reporting Director

McHenry County Community College - Associates in Science (Presidential Talent Scholarship and Student Senate President and Finance Officer

Campaign Website: shannonteresi.com

What is the role of the Illinois comptroller?

The role is the chief accountant of the state who manages the state chart of accounts and fiscal books. They are responsible for the efficient and effective operations of the state government, which means they are responsible for financial leadership statewide. My opponent is not qualified to be 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 the state hasn’t had before. The state is the most corrupt and fiscally mismanaged in the nation and I will get the state finances on the right track and transparent to the people of Illinois and serve as the “People’s Accountant”.

Why should people vote for you?

I’m a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Fraud Examiner, and a Certified Internal Auditor. I’ve gone toe to toe with the entrenched politicians in McHenry County and I’ve authored financial statements for McHenry County and audited financial statements for Fortune 500 companies. Not once throughout my career has anyone questioned my integrity in doing this job that I am qualified for. I am beholden to God, the voters, and a code of ethical standards being a CPA, and that is what I will bring to the Comptroller’s Office. As an accountant, you have to be willing to tell some harsh truths to get to a status of financial health. Comptroller Mendoza has proven she won’t tell the harsh truth. I will.

Should Illinois look at merging the comptroller and treasurer offices?

Saving the Illinois taxpayer money is paramount, and I stand with my fellow candidate Tom Demmer who proposed combining the two offices earlier this year. During my time as McHenry County Auditor, I’ve proven that systems can be put in place to protect the independence of offices responsible for stewardship of taxpayer dollars. We’ve stopped practices in McHenry County like printing promotional materials for politicians with taxpayer dollars, something that Comptroller Mendoza is currently planning to do with rebate checks.

What is the comptroller’s role in maintaining Illinois’ fiscal integrity?

The Comptroller’s is chief elected financial leader in the state of Illinois and should provide leadership on rooting out corruption, fiscal integrity and ethical reform. As a Certified Fraud Examiner and Certified Public Accountant I will restore financial integrity and return trust back to the people. The Comptroller is the people’s accountant, responsible for keeping track of and disbursing the taxpayer dollars to pay the state’s bills. Of paramount importance is the annual financial reporting, something that the current comptroller is failing at. Every year, the state releases financial reporting late and often times with qualified information, meaning it is unreliable, inaccurate and unvetted information. That is not a sound practice for business, for your own accounting, and it shouldn’t be sound for state government.

What safeguards are needed to prohibit fraud in state government contracting and invoicing?

My record shows that I have put systems in place in McHenry County to pay the bills on time, be transparent about what is being paid, and cutting out corrupt practices leading to wasted taxpayer dollars. On my watch, McHenry County has maintained a AAA bond rating and we have no debt. McHenry County has a stronger net position than the state of Illinois because of sound financial practice. With that experience, I will work to ensure that taxpayers know exactly what their tax dollars are paying for.

The state needs to promote their Fraud, Waste and Abuse hotline not just within the state government, but statewide and encourage not only employees, but vendors and taxpayers to report fraud, waste and abuse. I did this in McHenry County and will do it for the state. As a Certified Fraud Examiner I will lead on providing ethics and corruption reform. I will work closely with the Inspector General’s Office and identify fraud risks and mechanisms that can be put in place to reduce them.

What will be your top legislative priorities during your term, and why?

First and foremost, we need accurate financial information that can be relied upon to make the hard choices that need to be made. The Comptroller’s Office released qualified financial reports in 2021 (for FY2020), meaning that the data was incomplete and unreliable. And in 2022, Comptroller Mendoza forced legislators to craft a budget based on a 5 page interim financial report, as opposed to the roughly 400 page Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR). Second, the state needs to address spending. Even someone who isn’t an accountant can tell you that if your spending is increasing faster than revenue, that is an unsustainable situation. That is what we are facing in Illinois.

How would you assess the Legislature’s and governor’s approaches to addressing the state’s finances the past 4 years? What more should be done?

One simple fact that Governor Pritzker and Comptroller Mendoza can’t hide is that year over year during this administration, the state’s net position has worsened meaning we are taking on more liabilities than revenue we are generating. It doesn’t take an accountant to know that this is an untenable situation. We need a Comptroller who can do the job necessary, highlight the waste, fraud and abuse and put systems in place to save taxpayer dollars. Instead, we have a Comptroller beholden to the Governor and her own political ambition. That’s not a recipe for success, it’s a recipe for misleading financial information that will continue to harm this state’s potential for the future.

I will get the state’s finances on the right track, transparent and accountable to the taxpayer, by identifying and rooting out wasteful spending. We need to review every area in our government. To do this we need to put together a team of people that are dedicated to eliminating waste and move programs that should be outside state government into the private sector, so resources can be utilized where they are needed the most. We need to ask the tough questions. I will be leading the charge. We have done this in McHenry County and I will accomplish change for the state.

Should the comptroller have more discretion regarding which of the state’s bills are paid and when, and will you seek it?

The top financial officers of the state, the Treasurer and Comptroller, need to be on the same page when it comes to paying the state’s bills. It is one reason why combining the offices can be a positive change to Illinois’s finances. Not only will it save taxpayer dollars, but it will also provide a unified body that can take action to address the state’s finances. We can have effective buffers in place to protect the independence of the Comptroller as it pertains to auditing and financial reporting, but combining those offices is a smart financial decision for the state.

What more can the comptroller’s website do to make state and local finances transparent for the public?

Taxpayers deserve greater transparency than what they have gotten from this Comptroller. The Debt Transparency Report is filled with disclaimers about what is NOT included in their reporting, and it’s telling that Gov. Pritzker and Comptroller Mendoza keep such a tight hold on the finances they release. The state’s liabilities have overall significantly increased under Gov. Pritzker and Mendoza. They have taken on more loans to pay unpaid bills, so they have provided no real reform. They have used Federal dollars to address their mismanagement that is impacting taxpayers’ day to day lives. We are walking off a financial cliff, which Moody’s warned could happen with a recession.

The comptroller’s office is responsible for oversight of the state’s cemeteries and crematories. How will you approach this duty of the office?

Cemeteries and crematories are places that we hold sacred, and that is how I will treat that duty as Comptroller. We need to care for these spaces as those who visit them still care for the loved ones whose remains are interred there. I promise to treat our state’s cemeteries and crematories with the utmost respect that those who have left us deserve as Comptroller. I will assist in making the Comptroller’s office more easily accessible and helpful to these businesses, so they can focus on helping those they serve in our communities. I will meet with industry associations regularly and constituents to ensure their needs are being met and open lines of communication are developed. Lastly, I will ensure compliance with applicable state statutes and best practices are obtained to ensure we are serving citizens to the best of our ability.

Should Illinois’ tax structure be changed to bring in more revenue?

Illinois is consistently the most or second most taxed state in the nation. It’s a primary reason why we are losing more than 100,000 people every single year. Fixing the state’s debt problems starts with making sound financial decisions, not raising taxes. We need a comptroller who can identify wasteful spending, and take action to root it out. Our current Comptroller is unable or unwilling to make those calls, but I am able and willing. With proper financial management, Illinois can become the envy of every state in the nation, which will attract more businesses, people.

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