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Today’s constitutional amendment quotables

Monday, Mar 24, 2014

* David Yepsen on Speaker Madigan’s proposed income tax surcharge on income over a million dollars and Bruce Rauner’s term limits proposal

Rauner’s term-limit push reinforces his theme that Illinois government is in shambles because it is overrun with career politicians. Madigan’s plan, however, may provide a way for disillusioned Democrats to come home despite their frustration with the Democratic-sponsored, Quinn-signed law to curb public employee pension benefits.

“I can see people voting for both (proposed amendments) — screw the rich people and throw the bums out,” Yepsen said. “But this is a way Democrats can get a piece of that anger.”

* From the Tribune editorial board

House Speaker Michael Madigan, who helped create the Quinncome tax hike, now wants to change the subject. On Thursday he said he’ll ask lawmakers to put on the November ballot an income tax increase of 3 percentage points on personal income that exceeds $1 million. Seven weeks earlier, though, Madigan proposed to cut in half the state income tax on corporations. But a month before that, he complained that some companies “don’t pay their fair share.”

Go figure. If Madigan hasn’t yet offered a tax policy you like, give him time. Will he and other Quinncome taxers now raise rates or cut spending?

* Mark Brown on Rauner’s term limits proposal

Based on the emails I’m receiving, I think many voters will be surprised to learn it wouldn’t bring the immediate end of Madigan’s reign, but would immediately give more power to Illinois’ next governor. (Now, who might that be?) […]

The other provision would make it more difficult for legislators to override a governor’s veto by increasing the required 3/5 majority vote of both chambers to a 2/3 majority. The obvious purpose is to strengthen Rauner’s hand against Madigan, which isn’t a good reason to tinker with the state Constitution.

Did any of you feel Rod Blagojevich wasn’t given enough power? Do you think Illinois would be better off today if only Blago could have kept the Legislature in better check with his veto? See what I mean.

The strangest part is that neither of these proposals were the result of public clamoring or offered by some good government think tank. Instead, both were dreamed up by Rauner and his lawyers in hopes of cobbling something together that would help the term limits amendment pass muster with the Supreme Court.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - VanillaMan - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 11:04 am:

    Other states have term limits. They aren’t being ran like little dictatorships. And we’re talking good, well ran states - not states at the bottom like Illinois.

    Rauner’s proposal hasn’t been done before in Illinois, but tax increases have been done repeatedly.

    How about Madigan proposing something that hasn’t been shown to be a complete failure up to now? Rauner’s proposal has been shown by other US states not to be a failure.

    You know, SO - how about proposing something that has proven to work well in other states, instead of something that has been proven NOT TO WORK in other states?

    That’s all!

  2. - VanillaMan - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 11:05 am:

    What a minute - Brown is warning Illinoisans about giving a guy too much political power?


  3. - phocion - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 11:10 am:

    Does Mark Brown understand that if those additional items aren’t “cobbled together” with term limits, the Supreme Court has said it would invalidate the term limits amendment.

  4. - G'Kar - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 11:13 am:

    I thought world class newspapers avoided, even in their editorials, derogatory “nicknames” like “Quinncome Tax.” Oh, wait a minute, we are talking about the Chicago Tribune. Never mind.

  5. - langhorne - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 11:30 am:

    its an awful amendment–the term limits (more power to lobbyists and staff, even less knowledgeable membership); override ratio; reduction in senate districts (massive downstate districts, drawn by guess who?).

    but hey, people like “term limits”. democracy brought to you for $2 a signature, by the guy w an $18 watch.

  6. - MEP - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    Quinncome tax hike? You know, if the Tribune, IL GOP, etc. spent half as much time on thoughtful ideas, campaign strategies and working hard as they do on silly nicknames maybe conservatives in Illinois wouldn’t be so irrelevant.

    Also, considering the Chicago Tribune (enthusiastically) endorsed Louis Viverito once only mentioning he was a Madigan ally I do not understand how they get the high ground on villifying the Speaker.

  7. - A guy... - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    God Bless Mark Brown for coming by his goofy thoughts in an honest way. He doesn’t hide it. Perhaps Oak Park should file an amendment seeking statehood. The capitol could be at the library and Wordslinger could be the Governor. We could do a lot worse than that.

  8. - Smoke and Mirrors - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 11:40 am:

    I think it is time the news media starts reporting on the term limits amendment! The Career politicians 8 years term limit would not start until they end the term they are elected to in 2014. So the Career politicians have at least until 2024 until they run out of time. So they have another TEN YEARS to finish up destroying the state. They have TEN more years of pension payments. Lets all be honest! The only thing this amendment will do if it is passed, is maybe change a few things in the next decade maybe. Now you see why the career politicians are not saying much. They have another ten years and the leaders will retire by the time the term limits come into affect. Then they will then get jobs as lobbyist while they draw their lavish pensions! This amendment looks good in the headlines, but isn’t going to fix our problems!

  9. - Anon - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 11:54 am:

    The burden is on proponents to demonstrate term limits improve government. Improvements certainly haven’t been apparent in California and other states with legislative term limits.

  10. - Ghost - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 11:55 am:

    Term Limits:

    If experience at what you do is bad, then why hasnt rauner been removed from his current job after 8 years?

    Show me any job where somone wants the least experienced person to handle it and no one with experience around to assist….except the lobbiest. They will be the only experienced people left…thats what we need, inexperienced politicians relying on lobbiests to help them.

    How about Griffin? shouldnt he be fired, he has been over his investment business for more then 8 years…..

    I suppose when Rauner hires an attorney he goes straight to the graduating class abnd refuses to have aid from lawyers with more then 8 years of experience in his legal matters…..

  11. - Norseman - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 11:55 am:

    === Does Mark Brown understand that if those additional items aren’t “cobbled together” with term limits, the Supreme Court has said it would invalidate the term limits amendment. ===

    Yes, and that’s the point. The cobbled items are bad ideas that shouldn’t be supported because the constitution doesn’t allow referendum enactment on the central point.

  12. - UIC Guy - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 12:04 pm:

    I’m struck by a contrast. Madigan wanted to cut state pensions, which on the face of it violates the constitution, but did not propose a constitutional amendment. Now he wants to raise tax-rates on the highest earners, also on the fact of it a violation of the constitution, and in this case he does propose a constitutional amendment.

    I don’t know what to make of this difference but can’t help feeling that it is significant in some way. Any ideas?

  13. - Soccermom - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 12:23 pm:

    Anybody who thinks term limits are a good idea should look at California. Thanks to legislative term limits, the brilliant and experienced Jerry Brown is running through the legislature like a hot knife through butter. Personally, I like Gov. Brown. But I don’t think it would be a bad idea if there were someone just as savvy and experienced to balance his power a bit.

    And here’s another thought — with term limits, you’re up or out. So at every level, legislators are constantly vying with each other for the next rung on the ladder. That can’t lead to cooperation and collegiality, just more showboating.

    We have term limits. They are called elections. I don’t want to lose my excellent state Senator (Don Harmon! Holla!) just because somebody in Carbondale doesn’t like Madigan.

  14. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 12:24 pm:

    ===Anybody who thinks term limits are a good idea should look at California===

    You mean a state that’s getting its act together?

  15. - CollegeStudent - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    OK, look at Missouri and Arkansas, which have had term limits for a generation, minimal legislative productivity, and are generally hacking away at governmental support structures to the state’s detriment.

    Term limits only seem to introduce more ideologues into state government who have little clue that in order to get stuff passed, they need to work together with those who disagree with them, and by the time they figure that out, they’re about to term out.

  16. - Pete - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 12:50 pm:

    I can only remember all those special sessions where the legislature wouldn’t pass anything.

    Emergency special sessions called over and over with no teeth. Is there a way to fix that?

  17. - Pete - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 12:53 pm:

    “That can’t lead to cooperation and collegiality, just more showboating.”

    Did Soccermom miss the Pension reform battle between Madigan and Cullerton? The current system is neither cooperative nor collegial.

  18. - Captain Illini - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:03 pm:

    Term limits on their face is a populist idea who’s time has come. The voting system is broken due to bipartisan efforts to kill open voting in the primaries. Any time you have less than 50% of the voting public…which is every primary…then you have a system where only the connected get elected. Not to say that won’t happen during a term limited election, but at least they are there only 8 years versus 40…just sayin’

  19. - Demoralized - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    Term limits are a horrible idea. We already have term limits. It’s called voting. Term limits are for people who want to whine and complain because they don’t like the outcome of elections. So, since they don’t get their way they want the law to do it for them.

    I’m going to continue to say this over and over as long as this discussion is out there. If people want term limits then why not get rid of elections. Do it like jury duty. When your number comes up you serve.

    Term limits are the antithesis of democracy.

  20. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:25 pm:

    Rich -

    Correct me if I am mistaken, but I believe you coined the term “Quinncome tax”? I guess you shoulda copyrighted.

  21. - circularfiringsquad - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:31 pm:

    Mr/Ms CollegeStudent
    “OK lets look at Missouri & Arkansas”
    Yup that would be our role models..and you can marry your first cousin too.

  22. - girllawyer - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:31 pm:

    UIC, I think the answer is simple. A constitutional amendment is not retroactive. A constitutional amendment now would only change things beginning when it took effect. It would have no effect on the decades of pensions earned before. It also would be a sort of acknowlegement that a change is needed and thus undermine the argument that the constitution as it exists now allows this “reform”.

  23. - Pete - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    Elections as a term limit would be fine, if the gerrymandering of districts didn’t occur. Since the political landscape is changed to suit the candidate or the controlling political party, then term limits are the best option.

    Remap the districts so that it’s fixed by geography instead of population or ethnicity and I’d be infavor of leaving things as is.

  24. - UIC Guy - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:50 pm:

    @girllawyer, 1:31
    ===A constitutional amendment… would have no effect on the decades of pensions earned before===

    Thanks for the response. I’m not sure it’s right, though, or at least not without dubious parsing of ‘earned before’. My retired colleagues earned a certain amount as pension AND a 3% compounded annual increase of that amount. The bill takes much of that increase away from them. Surely a constitutional amendment repealing the pension clause would simply ensure that a challenge to that bill (or worse ones that might come later) would fail. Surely a constitutional amendment can do whatever it says it does, since it’s the highest law in the state (leaving Federal law out of account)?

  25. - Gramps - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:59 pm:

    ===Show me any job where somone wants the least experienced person to handle it and no one with experience around to assist…=== We have an awful lot of experienced politicians running things now….Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think things are going all that well.

  26. - Secret Square - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 3:55 pm:

    I think term limits could work IF they were made significantly longer for legislators, say, 16-20 years, than for executive branch officeholders (8-12 years, or 2-3 terms). A 20-year limit would be long enough to prevent wholesale turnover and loss of institutional memory (most legislators will quit or be voted out before they reach the limit anyway) but short enough to prevent entrenched lifetime tenure.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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