Exodus from the Illinois General Assembly

Austin Berg of Illinois Policy reports on the large number of Representatives and Senators leaving their current jobs for either retirement or other ambitions:

Thirty state lawmakers in the 100th General Assembly will not be holding their seats in the 101st General Assembly. And that’s not even counting those who might be ousted at the ballot box next year.

The exodus is unlike anything Springfield insiders have ever seen.

National polling data has long shown Illinoisans at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to trust in their state government. Has that sentiment finally seeped into the Statehouse? Have the distant grumblings become an unbearable scream?

Let’s take a look at the breakdown of who’s leaving, and why.

In the House, 23 lawmakers will not return to their seats in the 101st General Assembly. That’s nearly a whopping 20 percent of the chamber. The situation is less severe in the Senate, where seven members are certain not to return.

Of the 30 total members of the General Assembly who will not hold on to their seats, three have resigned. Twenty are not running for re-election. Two are House members running for Senate seats. And the remaining five are running for office outside the General Assembly: one for governor, two for lieutenant governor, one for attorney general, and one for a seat on Chicago’s Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (yes, really.)

Keep in mind that the current General Assembly has only been around for nine months. There could be even more announcements waiting in the wings.

Such a heavy outflow of lawmakers before voters even head to the polls demands explanation. What’s driving it?

Some have pointed to pensions. That certainly could make sense for a few lawmakers heading out the door. At least six lawmakers who are not running for re-election will be able to draw a maximum pension worth 85 percent of their final salary, according to numbers from the General Assembly Retirement System.

But the most likely driver is pretty obvious to most Illinoisans: the rage of constituents.

Social media has given residents more real-time information about what their lawmakers are doing, as well as better access to the tools to contact them directly – and often. Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin cited social media as one factor with a “major impact” on the phenomenon of lawmakers leaving en masse.

The Illinois Policy Institute, which spoke out consistently against the tax hike, boasts the most active online community of any advocacy organization in the state. Close to 300,000 Illinoisans follow the group’s Facebook page. And in an eight-day window this summer – June 29th to July 6th – Illinoisans sent 35,000 emails through the Institute’s “contact your lawmaker” tool.

So while the tax hike may have passed, it did not come without political cost.

Eight of the 11 House Republicans on their way out voted for that tax hike. And 11 of the 12 House Democrats vacating their seats voted for it as well (one resigned prior to the vote). Many, if not most, of those Republicans were likely to face primary opponents from members of their own party who were furious over the tax hike.

Again, this fallout is all without Illinoisans casting a single vote against an incumbent. They’ve struck fear in the hearts of their elected officials. Their voices are growing louder.

In a state where residents have been burned far too often, that’s reason to hope for a more accountable Springfield.


Exodus from the Illinois General Assembly — 17 Comments

  1. These people aren’t fools, they know that Illinois is not salvageable.

    Nothing here worth staying for so it’s time for them to join the Great Exodus from Illinois
    before it all implodes around them.

    Thanks Rauner, for hammering the last nail in Illinois’ coffin.

  2. New federal tax law introduces severe penalties to illinoisians.

    Obscene property tax rates (4.2% of fair market value in Woodstock) no longer deductible= federal income tax increases for all homeowners.

  3. …=transfer of wealth from local to federal coffers, until local real estate values fall enough to compensate

  4. Property taxes are imposed mostly by local school districts not the state.

  5. Susan missed the point. “Obscene property tax rates”.

    The reason we have obscene property taxes is because Illinoisians don’t want to give their money over to the tender mercies of the state when it comes to funding local schools so they have elected to use local property taxes for the majority of school funding.

    Then they don’t bother to show up for the elections in which the school boards are elected or vote for more of the same if they do show up, dont’ attend school board meetings, and then complain about the county and the state, neither of which have much or anything to do with local property taxes.

    Very few people even know who is on their local school board.

    That is why we get what we get.

  6. If you aim at the wrong target, you won’t hit anything.

    Property taxes (average):

    70% Schools

    10% County

    10% Municipal

    1% Townships

    9% Other (Parks, libraries). (MCCD, MHB, VH, SSGC funded by separately voter approved referenda).

    So if you are concerned about PROPERTY TAXES, and you only vote in the even numbered election years, (85% of the voters) you are going to the WRONG ELECTION).

  7. Like I said, entirely different problem than what this article is about.

    (Of course, Susan started it by going off subject; but that’s what we do in here.)

    Still a huge problem.

    But, we have so many hitting us from so many angles, hard to stay on subject.

    I am more concerned over how and why we are being poisoned daily by our air, food and water.

    There will be no need to worry about anything else when they are done with that ploy.

    Nevertheless, I think Cal is pointing out the rats leaving the sinking ship.

  8. The state pensions are on the brink of collapse.

    The politicians have robbed the coffers so there’s nothing left and have to move on and suck on a different teat.

  9. Yes, but we still have the weather.

    You’ve got to love our weather.

  10. They know the next couple of sessions of the GA are going to have to either pass huge tax increases again or else watch the pension funds sink past the point of no return.

    The TRS will probably be the first to fail.

    It looks like they’re getting outta Dodge just ahead of the torches and the pitchforks.

  11. It looks like Susan’s comment that triggered mine have been removed. How do you do that?

  12. These are the smart and good ones.

    Illinois is going to tank even faster into the abyss now.

    Rauner is their pied piper.

  13. The worst funded state pension system in Illinois on a percentage basis is the General Assembly Retirement System (GARS).

    The worst funded state pension system in Illinois on a dollar basis is the Teachers Retirement System of the State of Illinois (TRS).

    The severe underfunding of the state pensions results in high annual interest accruals.

    That makes the pensions more expensive to taxpayers in the long run.

    Democrat ideas to generate more state revenue include:

    – progressive state income tax.

    – Chicago casino which would likely mean other gambling expansion to garner enough votes to pass the bill.

    – Shift annual normal (current year not unfunded liability) state teacher and administrator pension contributions to local school districts.


    The 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s featured year after year of legislative pension and retiree healthcare benefit hikes.

    Now that the credit card has been charged, they are searching for money to pay for all the benefit and salary hikes.

    Easy to charge.

    Not as easy to pay.

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