Rauner: When wheels of government-reform efforts grind to halt, voters suffer
When members of the Illinois General Assembly return for the fall veto session, they should be prepared to vote on placing a constitutional amendment for term limits on the ballot and to create independently drawn legislative maps, Gov. Bruce Rauner said recently.
“Term limits and fair maps would give the people of Illinois more control over our broken political system,” Rauner said during a recent news conference.
Last month, a Chicago judge ruled against the fair maps ballot measure that has the support of nearly 600,000 Illinois citizens and support from several Democratic and Republican legislators. Most recently, the Illinois Supreme Court granted a motion for a direct appeal of the Cook County Circuit Court's July 20 ruling on the constitutionality of the proposed citizen-initiated amendment on redistricting, which is known as the Independent Map Amendment.
Although Rauner doesn’t have much faith in the appeal prevailing, he doesn’t plan to stop stumping for these specific reform initiatives -- particularly term limits -- that have not been popular with lawmakers thus far.
“People want us to fix the broken system that has put our state deep in the hole, but in Springfield, too many career politicians hold power and have been too happy to kick the can down the road and do nothing about our biggest problems," Rauner said. "We have to change that."
Such entrenched politicians are precisely why the state has ended up with a $100 billion unfunded pension liability, Rauner said, adding that even with the state’s massive tax bills, the government spends $1.30 for every dollar it takes in.
“It simply defies common sense,” Rauner said, adding that because of the state’s rigged political system, Illinois has the highest property taxes in America; some of the slowest economic growth in the country; and the highest levels of corruption, cronyism and patronage.
Term limits would change that culture of government and remind elected officials that they’re in their positions to work for the public, not for personal gain and a pension, Rauner said. If term limits are put on the ballot to be voted on and passed by Illinoisans, then politicians who have been in the General Assembly for 20, 30 or 40 years will have to leave and find another job, Rauner said.
In turn, new faces would be elected, bringing fresh ideas and new ways of thinking to the General Assembly, Rauner said.
“Term limits is an issue I believe in deeply and so do the people of Illinois," Rauner said. "Term limits is supported by 80 percent of the people I talk to. It seems like 80 percent of the politicians are opposed. Our people want term limits now more than ever, and that’s why I’m so committed to continue the fight to make it happen."
Term limits won't fix everything, Rauner said. But turning around the state’s broken pension system, high property taxes, under-funded schools and unnecessary regulatory burdens on businesses, for instance, would be more feasible if the political system is working for the public, rather than for an elite few, Rauner said.