SPRINGFIELD — Sen. James Clayborne of Belleville cast a deciding vote Tuesday that will prohibit Illinoisans from deciding on term limits for the governor and some other state officials.
Clayborne, a Democrat, cast one of the two "no" votes in a 1-2 vote of the Senate's Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments. The measure, sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, would have allowed voters to decide this fall on whether to change the state constitution to impose a two-term limit on the governor and other members of the executive branch.
Legislators had room on the November ballot for just one more referendum on a constitutional amendment. And Democrats wanted that slot to be used for a referendum on whether to change Illinois' income tax from a flat rate to a graduated or progressive rate.
Radogno told committee members, "I prioritize term limits over tax increases."
Clayborne argued that in Missouri, term limits on elected officials have only served to transfer power to government workers, rather than elected leaders.
"You know who's the most powerful? The bureaucrats," Clayborne said. "The bureaucrats are the most powerful in Missouri."
Also voting against the measure was Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago. Voting in favor of it was Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville.
Members of the executive branch, aside from the governor, are the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, comptroller and treasurer. Both parties have some entrenched leaders among that group: Republican Judy Baar Topinka has been comptroller for about 16 years, while Democrat Jesse White has been secretary of state for about 16 years.
Gov. Pat Quinn, who is seeking a second term in November, has said he is self-imposing a limit on his terms. He says he will not run again beyond the November election.
Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate for governor, supported Radogno's term-limit plan. Rauner also is pushing a separate voter initiative to impose eight-year term limits on legislators.
Rauner issued a statement after the committee's vote: "While Pat Quinn and his allies continue to block term limits in Illinois, I stand squarely with the people in their call for reform and accountability. The people of Illinois deserve the chance to make their voices heard."
Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at email@example.com or 239-2511.