Judy Baar Topinka

Judy Baar Topinka
Illinois Comptroller website

Two things were unique about Judy Baar Topinka: her hair color and everything else.

Both endeared her to nearly everyone she met. For many years, Judy sported a burnt orange to mahogany hair color that was as much a part of her personality as anything else. She cared deeply for the people of Illinois – all of them. Every single person she met over the course of her political career mattered to Judy, and in most cases they knew it and loved her all the more for it.

State comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, shown in this state photo, died December 10, 2014 from complications of a stroke at the age of 70.
via Illinois Comptroller website

(Updated 3:54 p.m., Wed., Dec. 10 with more reaction.)

Judy Baar Topinka, a leading figure in Illinois politics for decades, died suddenly Wednesday morning. Topinka, the state comptroller, won re-election to a second term in that office in November. Her office says she suffered a stroke. She was 70 years old. 

(From the Lt. Governor, State of Illinois, website)

Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon officially announced Wednesday that she's running for Illinois comptroller, ending five months of uncertainty about which statewide office she'll seek in 2014.

The Carbondale Democrat made her announcement Wednesday morning in downtown Chicago. Simon announced in February that she wouldn't seek another term with Gov. Pat Quinn.

State comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, shown in this state photo, died December 10, 2014 from complications of a stroke at the age of 70.
via Illinois Comptroller website

Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says the ever-long list of vendors waiting on payments from the state means taxpayers have to pay interest and their money is being "flushed away."

That's according to a story posted online Sunday in the Rockford Register Star. The story is part of GateHouse newspapers' series on Illinois' backlog of unpaid bills.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Washington University officials on the lookout for bacterial meningitis 

Officials at Washington University are on the lookout for possible cases of bacterial meningitis after a female undergraduate student was diagnosed with the bacteria that can cause the illness.

(UPI/Caleb Cattivera)

Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says her office will prioritize paying state bills accrued after a tornado tore through the city of Harrisburg, leaving six people dead.

Topinka said Thursday that her office will work with businesses impacted by Wednesday's severe weather. She says the state will prioritize payments to businesses committed to clean-up and recovery efforts in Saline County.

Flickr/JimBowen0306

Ill. unpaid bills top $4.2 billion in Comptroller's office

Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says there are  even more bills piled up in other government departments. She said Wednesday the state's overall backlog is about $8.5 billion. That means organizations that provide services for the state, from businesses to hospitals to charity groups, must wait months to be paid for their work. Topinka's office is still paying bills that date back to Sept. 1 - four and a half months ago.

(via Flickr/syslfrog)

Illinois Republicans say the state budget and national economy are key to their political fortunes next year.

They hope to chip away at the Democratic majority in the state legislature and protect the congressional seats they picked up in 2010.

As they gathered at the Illinois State Fair on Thursday, Republican leaders accused Democrats of mismanaging the Illinois budget. They criticized the recent income tax increase and Gov. Pat Quinn's proposal to borrow money to pay overdue bills that are piling up.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Illinois businesses waiting for long-overdue tax refunds aren't getting any good news from the state capitol.

Illinois owes about $850 million to roughly 36,000 businesses that overpaid their income taxes. Some have been waiting since 2008 to get their money.

Gov. Pat Quinn proposed borrowing money to pay the refunds, but legislators have shown little interest in that idea.

Budget proposals being considered by Democratic lawmakers would do little to chip away at the backlog.

Reporting from WBEZ's Tony Arnold used in this story.

Illinois legislators are preparing to debate a plan that would combine two elected offices into one.

The proposal would change the state Constitution, combining the Treasurer's office and the Comptroller's office. Both deal with the finances of Illinois, the treasurer with investments and the comptroller is in charge of dispersing the state's money.