Gov. Bruce Rauner is telling Illinoisans across the state not to accept the political class' refusal to take up popular initiatives such as term-limits and redistricting reform.
After losing the battle to address redistricting reform on this November’s ballot, Rauner has been telling crowds across the state to pressure their state lawmakers into voting to put a term-limits question on the 2018 ballot when they return this fall. Rauner said career politicians are no longer accountable to their constituents.
"We've got people locked in office for 20 years, 30 years, 40 years,” Rauner said. “They're not really accountable to the people. They're entrenched.”
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Rauner said citizen pressure is the key to term limits by way of a lawmaker vote.
"The first way to fix our problems is to change our political system,” Rauner said. “Get the career politicians to move on. Let's get new leadership and new ideas. Let's get fresh thinking in office. Term limits and fair maps can get that done. The people can contact their representative, their senator, and say, 'Are you going to sign a pledge to vote for fair maps? Will you sign a pledge to vote for term limits? Otherwise, maybe I don't vote for you.’ ”
Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Steven Malanga said getting lawmakers to term-limit themselves will require tremendous pressure.
"Those kinds of things that might threaten current legislators like term limits can be the hardest things to get through states like Illinois," Malanga said. "You're essentially asking lawmakers to vote against their own interest."
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, doesn't openly oppose term limits, rather saying that he supports term limits as a function of voters deciding at the polls.
The National Conference of State Legislatures said 15 states have enacted some sort of term limits for their elected officials.
A previous campaign championed by Rauner to add a term limits question to the 2014 ballot was struck down by Illinois judges. The state Supreme Court refused to hear the case to allow the ballot initiative in time to have been added to the November election.