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August 21, 2014

Putting limits on Springfield

Should Illinois limit terms, reduce the state Senate and increase the state House? Those are the questions we, and 600,000 petition signers, hope voters are asked in November.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner is pressuring the Illinois Supreme Court to rule on the questions' constitutionality by Friday, the deadline for a November ballot issue. If passed, the measures would amend the Illinois Constitution on the legislature's size and terms, giving a representative a maximum of eight years.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is a long-time supporter of term limits, pushing a failed attempt 20 years ago and calling for a constitutional convention in 2008 that would have taken up the issue. He also succeeded in 1980 in reducing the House size, so he's against increasing it again -- not to mention the fact that his opponent for governor is leading this charge.

House Speaker Michael Madigan's posse is obviously against it, suing over whether the measure is constitutional and whether taxpayer money should be spent on it being on the ballot. So far these champions of the taxpayer are winning the argument that term limits is a matter for the legislature to address -- lawmaker heal thyself.

That would be the same legislature that argues they can't get anything done unless given decades in office. You wonder if that must be true since it's taking decades to reform pensions, fix school funding, stanch the state's job losses, fix the state budget and pay the bills on time.

One in 12 Illinois voters signed a petition to ask that these amendments be put on the November ballot. We'd like to believe that if Madigan and Co. succeed in keeping it off this time that it will not be the end of the term limits question, but...

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