Illinois Republicans abandon term limits

Ted Dabrowski

Vice President of Policy

Ted Dabrowski

John Klingner

Policy Analyst

John Klingner
July 1, 2017

Illinois Republicans abandon term limits

Term limits were once a key component of GOP plans to dismantle Illinois’ corrupt political machine, but Republicans in Springfield have thrown in the towel on this reform.

If there was a linchpin to the Republican plan for taking on Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, it was term limits.

Term limits were more than just a symbolic attack on Madigan’s power and prestige. They were a direct assault on the Madigan machine and the speaker’s influence.

Term limits were meant to strike at the heart of Illinois’ cronyism, corruption and political self-aggrandizement.

They were a way to change how the political class in Springfield does business. Term limits were to play a key part in the ultimate shake-up of Springfield.

Gov. Bruce Rauner included term limits for all Springfield lawmakers as one of his core reforms during his campaign for governor.

“We will never give up. We will never give up this battle,” Rauner said of term limits.

And the public wanted them, too. Nearly 4 of 5 Illinoisans surveyed support term limits, according to a 2012 Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll.

Gone

Today, term limits are nowhere to be found in any of the “compromise” deals swirling around Springfield.

In fact, virtually every reform Rauner and legislative Republicans once sought is gone or watered-down to the point of uselessness.

Collective bargaining reforms: Gone.

Lowering income tax rates to 3 percent: Gone.

Stand-alone 401(k)-style plans for new state workers: Gone.

And term limits? Gone.

When Rauner and Republicans stated their reform goals back in 2014, they called for term limits on all lawmakers. Less than three years later, term limits were only being pursued for legislative leaders.

Now term limits are gone altogether.

What was once at the heart of Rauner and Republicans’ reform proposals is no longer a part of negotiations.

In their desperation for a deal, Republicans have rolled over.

They started out with a plan to strip Madigan of power, but the speaker managed to strip theirs instead.

Nothing remains of the reforms that could have weakened the Springfield political machine.

If they vote for a compromise plan – a punishing tax hike plan devoid of reforms – Republicans will be signing off on Illinois’ continuing slide toward bankruptcy.

And in dropping term limits as a demand, Republicans are showing they are willing to let Illinois’ corrupt, complacent and morally bankrupt political culture continue.

It’s a betrayal of the people of Illinois.

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