Madigan accused of interfering with reforms favoring middle class
House Speaker Michael Madigan is standing in the way of middle-class families and the prosperity they deserve, the Illinois Policy Institute says.
“Madigan continues to use his power to block reforms that would benefit Illinois’ middle class: a property-tax freeze, term limits, government consolidation, and economic policies that encourage job creation,” the organization wrote on its Facebook page.
During an Illinois Rising podcast earlier this month with Pat Hughes, co-founder of the Illinois Opportunity Project, state Rep. Randy Frese (R-Paloma) discussed Madigan’s unparalleled influence over the state’s politics and how the long-time politician is using that power to control negotiations in Springfield.
“I don’t know how we are going to negotiate come November/December for a comprehensive budget when it looks like there’s going to be a demand or at least (a request) for a substantial tax increase,” he said.
Frese said he has never been a proponent of higher taxes because “nations don’t tax themselves into prosperity,” and the state of Illinois is no different.
Instead, the state needs reforms that Gov. Bruce Rauner has touted since he began campaigning for office – reforms to pensions, property taxes and workers’ compensation.
A good first step in paving the way for such reforms would be changing the balance of power in Springfield, Frese said.
“There’s basically been a one party control since 2002; and right now, we’re still seeing that bit of imbalance and maybe because of that, trustworthiness between the two maybe has not grown and developed the way you would like to see it,” he said.
First elected in November 1970 to represent House District 22, Madigan has been House Speaker since 1983 with the exception of two years when Republicans gained control over the House, which makes him the longest-serving House speaker in Illinois history and one of the longest-serving state House speakers in U.S. history.
Austin Berg, writer for the Illinois Policy Institute and columnist for the Illinois News Network, mentioned in the podcast that Madigan was able to rise to the Speaker's post in the early 1980s after he remapped Illinois’ legislative districts to his advantage, designing them to increase his majority ever since.
“Because there aren’t term limits; because Madigan has consolidated his power so much that those won’t pass in Illinois until he’s gone, he’s been able to maintain that power regardless of how times have changed,” Berg said.
Many voters have asked the Illinois Policy Institute what they can do to curtail Madigan’s influence, Berg said. His response to voters is that if they are living in Democrat districts, their representatives are voting for Madigan to be Speaker of the House every two years.
“That is the vote that he needs most and if you look back into the '80s, '90s, 2000s, you’ll see articles written again and again and again where people on the inside said the most important vote to Madigan beyond his own district is, ‘Will you vote for me for Speaker?’ And he’s happy to make it as easy as possible for House Reps to vote for him to lead them into battle,” Berg said.