CHICAGO -- Born and raised in Joliet, Republican Leslie Munger is the Illinois comptroller. The businesswoman turned politician is running to keep the job.
As comptroller, Munger is the bookkeeper responsible for maintaining the state’s account, and payments in and out of it. That’s no easy job for a state that spends more than it takes in.
"Our state simply does not have enough revenue to meet the obligations that we are currently facing," she said. "We need a balanced budget."
On her website, Munger keeps a tally of the state’s bill backlog -- $9 billion!
Following the death of Judy Baar Topinka in 2014, Munger was appointed comptroller by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
"I feel like our state needs people who are willing to step up and serve. I don’t need this job. I actually came out of my nice life to take this appointment," she said.
That life was a volunteer in her hometown of Lakeshire following a career in brand marketing. Munger was an executive at Proctor & Gamble and Helene Curtis Industries. She once managed the Suave brand with its various shampoos, lotions, soaps and deodorants.
"They called it 'hope in a bottle!'" she said.
Munger has not had much to say about her fellow businessman Donald Trump. But she did tell us she thinks he’s successful.
"I don’t know enough about his business practices he’s got here, but I will tell you, he’s employed a lot of people and we need to employ more people here in Illinois," she said.
To create more jobs here in Illinois, Munger is walking in step with Rauner, backing increases in revenue tied to pro-business reforms.
For more than a year, Illinois has been floating along without a budget while the state’s unpaid bills pile up. As the person who must choose which organizations to pay, Munger is trying to turn up the heat on Springfield lawmakers.
"For years, our legislature found ways to hide bills, have agencies hold them, sit on them for the last quarter, send them into the next fiscal year.
To encourage lawmakers to pass a balanced budget Munger is proposing a "no budget, no pay" bill. Under the legislation, lawmakers would not get their salary until the state gets a budget.
It will be a tough sell for state legislators, but Munger still talks about it in her campaign commercial.
In this campaign, Munger blew the lid off the donation limits accepting a $260,000 loan from her husband. It allowed her to accept millions from wealthy donors and it allows the state GOP to transfer money into other races.
Munger says the move was necessary to get the Republican message out.
"I’m following laws passed by the Democrats, voted on by my opponent, and it really allowed them to advantage themselves in past elections to bring in money through the Speaker to shuffle it to other candidates all throughout their party," she said.
Munger and her Democratic opponent Susana Mendoza are in the middle of a proxy war. Rauner and his business allies are pumping money into Munger’s campaign while House Speaker Michael Madigan and big unions fun Mendoza. The winner will serve for two years.
Mendoza will be featured on Monday's WGN News at Nine.