Taxpayer victory: Illinois House cuts committee bloat
A glut of $10,000-a-head committee chair positions has been a key tool for House Speaker Mike Madigan to maintain power over members.
House Speaker Mike Madigan was in Springfield Jan. 29 as his colleagues took a vote on House rules that give him more power than any other state speaker in the nation.
As expected, the House approved the rules on a 73-42 vote. What may come as a surprise, however, is that the House rules eliminated nearly a dozen standing committees – cutting 15 while adding four. They also cut eight special committees.
This is a win for taxpayers and good-government advocates alike.
Following the 2017 House rules vote, the Illinois Policy Institute noted that Madigan created a dozen new committees, making Illinois home to the highest count of paid committee chairs in the nation by far. Each of these committee chairs receives a $10,000 annual stipend. And the minority spokesperson for every committee gets the same stipend as their Madigan-appointed counterpart.
The glut of committees was especially concerning given how few meetings many of them held.
Unfortunately, one committee remains problematic: Rules. Every bill first heads to the Rules Committee before being assigned to a substantive committee, such as the Personnel & Pensions Committee or the Higher Education Committee.
But Madigan appoints a majority of the Rules Committee members, and therefore can effectively kill any bill at will by letting it “die” in Rules.
It is virtually impossible for rank-and-file lawmakers to discharge a bill from Rules for a hearing and a vote. The Illinois House is one of only two House chambers in the country that muzzles debate in such an extreme manner, according to a 2017 Institute analysis.
The following standing committees were eliminated or consolidated:
- Business Incentives for Local Communities
- Business & Occupational Licenses
- Community College Access & Affordability
- Construction Industry & Code Enforcement
- Cost Benefit Analysis
- Economic Justice & Equity (Economic Opportunity Committee becomes Economic Opportunity & Equity Committee)
- Elections & Campaign Finance
- Elementary & Secondary Education: Charter School Policy (Elementary & Secondary Education: Licensing Committee becomes Elementary & Secondary Education: Administration, Licensing, & Charter Schools Committee
- Environment (Energy Committee becomes Energy & Environment Committee)
- Fire & Emergency Services
- Government Consolidation & Modernization
- Government Transparency
- Insurance: Property & Casualty (Insurance: Health and Life Committee becomes Insurance Committee)
- Mass Transit
- Tourism, Hospitality & Craft Industries
The rules created the following new committees:
- Adoption & Child Welfare
- Appropriations – Capital
- Child Care Accessibility & Early Childhood Education
- Prescription Drug Affordability & Accessibility