Hacked off at the folks in Springfield after they jacked up your state income taxes without controlling property taxes or their own excesses? Feeling hopeless and helpless?
There are fixes available, but only if enough people are motivated to repair this broken state rather than just taking the easy out to ABI (Anywhere But Illinois). Term limits and an independent legislative redistricting commission would go a long way to ending the Illinois distillery of selfish political power that boiled down the people’s choices to a single party’s decisions and now to a single person’s crass dictates.
Both parties sin when they have the power to draw the maps. Both have played political games in Illinois, moving district lines so that Republican Dave Luechtefeld’s home is just over the line from the bulk of the people he used to represent as state senator and former Democratic state Rep. Lisa Brown’s home was also put in another district when she refused to kowtow.
The U.S. Supreme Court may offer a solution this fall, depending on the outcome of a Wisconsin gerrymandering case. Minority protections are written into voting laws, but not party affiliation protections. An analysis by the Associated Press recently found that Republicans have the current advantage — four times as many states have pro-Republican maps for their legislatures, and the 24 biggest states are three times as likely to have House districts skewed toward Republicans.
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The justices’ decision could largely take politics out of the process when maps are redrawn after the 2020 U.S. Census. That swift solution would be welcomed here after last year’s hard-fought loss, despite 563,000 petition signatures, for an independent map amendment to the Illinois Constitution. Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and his majority on the state high court killed that citizen effort with a tortured ruling on what the words “structure,” “subject” and “procedure” mean.
So on to term limits, but where to find the power to impose them?
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner called upon the legislature to impose the limits, but come on. Really? Expect the leopards to change their spots?
Use the ultimate term limit of voting to put in different leopards? That would be great, except 60 percent of the races in the November election had just one person running.
A citizen petition drive for term limits? Well, only one petition effort has passed muster with the Illinois high court since the 1970 Illinois Constitution supposedly gave the power to the people to change government when it would not change itself. After the experience with the independent map amendment, it would be more than a little difficult to find the will to do it all again, just to have the four Democratic state justices relieve themselves again on the people’s work.
Maybe the answer is all of the above. Maybe pressuring lawmakers, fighting for or becoming a new voice in the statehouse and a petition drive are all needed to create a change.
The average Illinois household will need to work about 28 hours to make the $1,100 extra just taken from them by state lawmakers. Imagine what the state’s 6 million workers could accomplish by devoting just half that time to political activism.