Illinois has a tradition of inept government, and while some people would like to see changes and reform efforts, the system tends to favor the status quo. Witness initiatives to add term limits to elected officials. Both gubernatorial candidates, Bruce Rauner and Pat Quinn, support term limits, though Quinn has found that position a little less pleasing now that he’s attempting to win a second term.
But in order to even get such a proposal on the ballot this November, it needs a 3/5 majority from both (heavily Democrat-controlled) legislative houses and approval from the State Board of Elections. Ask yourself this – how likely are career politicians like Mike Madigan and John Cullerton to let this happen? After all, they’ve built their fortunes and power base through longevity. It term limits did make it onto the ballot, polling indicates the voters would support it – but that’s if, if such an initiative can be worded simply enough for everyone to make sense of it. Anyone who’s voted in Illinois a few times has seen their share of vague and murky language. Still, if Rauner threw some money behind it, maybe we could get term limits.
This would be a huge deal for a state better known for corruption, cronyism, and debt than efficient use of taxpayer money for vital stuff like roads, schools, and public safety. No longer would Illinois legislators and executives have careers spanning decades, their pensions growing with each can-kick down the road.
Even more interesting (and less likely to see daylight): a reform to change the gerrymandering of legislative districts. Of course Madigan has pronounced it “pure party politics”, but take a look at this map and try to figure out why cities, counties, and neighborhoods get split apart. Sadly, our entire national system has this problem, and because this reform would require the sustained attention of the electorate as well as officials more interested in effective government than the status quo, we won’t hold our breath.