On Wednesday, lawmakers will vote for the next Speaker of the Illinois House. Editorial boards across Illinois this weekend called on House Democrats to fire Boss Madigan.
From the Belleville News-Democrat Editorial Board:
Seeking a coup d’etat against the King of Illinois
You didn’t vote for the King of Illinois. You likely wouldn’t vote for him given the chance. But on Wednesday the people you elected to the Illinois House of Representatives will again vote on a speaker. Vegas odds are on Mike Madigan, again.
Madigan has been in the House since 1971 and speaker for all but two years since 1983. He is the rock in the stream that carried six governors, more than 200 state senators and more than 500 representatives past him.
When he took office Illinois owed $2.4 billion to its state pensions. Now it owes $130 billion.
Since he became speaker the median property tax bill in Illinois has grown 432 percent. Only one state has higher property tax bills than Illinois.
Too easy to make one guy the villain in this tragic comedy? Well, Madigan has been the consistent factor, although he has had plenty of sidekicks such as Blagojevich and Quinn. Representatives say resistance leads to retribution that limits their ability to represent, so they play pawns to the King.
He recently laid bare his alternative to reforms, and he wants to “start” by taking the state income tax from 3.75 percent back up to 5 percent — the rate that put $25 billion extra into the state’s coffers as they spent their way into even worse financial shape. Our bill backlog is now just shy of $11 billion and we’ve had no state budget for 558 days.
Illinois must change, and that means cutting off the head. Madigan will tax his way out of this fiscal nightmare, but the hopeful path is to reform so employers return and there are more taxpayers to share the burden.
… More than a month ago one of our reporters asked Illinois House members how they planned to vote regarding the House speaker. Only Rep. Jerry Costello II answered, saying he didn’t yet know.
Well, we reached out to Democratic state representatives Jay Hoffman, LaToya Greenwood, Katie Stuart, Dan Beiser and Costello again. Again, only Costello responded and said he couldn’t comment until after he saw the candidates and assessed who would put him in the best position to represent his district.
Maybe history is the best predictor. Hoffman voted 11 times to make Madigan speaker. Costello twice voted for him and received nearly $200,000 in campaign funds from Madigan. Stuart is new to Springfield but got about $900,000 from Madigan. Beiser, six votes for Madigan and more than $700,000 this election cycle. Greenwood is a newbie who only got $31,000 — apparently a safe Democratic district with opposition from a two-time felon didn’t get Mike too worked up….
From the State Journal-Register Editorial Board:
It's unfortunate in some ways that the speakership isn't a statewide post, because then residents could have an actual say on who shapes the state's agenda.
This year, we challenge Democratic House members to think of themselves as the speaker's employer and vet Madigan accordingly. No hiring manager goes into an interview without thinking about the necessary skill sets the winning candidate needs to possess. Let's imagine, then, just a handful of the many skills a House speaker should be proficient in - and consider how Madigan has measured up.
... Businesses and residents are desperate for actions that will lead to financial stability and a stronger business climate. But Madigan has done an abysmal job of articulating what his party would prescribe for improving any aspect of the state. All we get is Madigan's rote recitations that he is protecting the middle class by stopping Rauner's business-friendly Turnaround Agenda items. He hasn't offered specifics on how the Turnaround Agenda will harm working families or, more importantly, what he would suggest doing instead.
... Madigan has crafted budgets with past Republican governors, and has repeatedly said he wants to use the same framework that has been used in the past on a new spending plan. Rauner (who we note has yet to provide a truly balanced budget proposal) has been unwilling to play by those rules - but is that a bad approach?
The past way of doing business is what led Illinois to the dire state it's in. It's time for new ideas, and to celebrate the ability to compromise with the opposing political party.
No one person is single-handedly responsible for the dire situation Illinois is in. It took decades of poor decisions by hundreds of policymakers for the state to become a landmine - but the one constant during all but two of the years it took to get us here has been Madigan as speaker.
Madigan is a nimble politician. But being a political master under the Capitol dome has not created a thriving state the majority of Illinois' residents benefit from. The willingness of rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers to kowtow to Madigan has demonstrated a commitment to their personal political well-being above what is best for the people they ostensibly serve.
The job has requirements. The speaker needs to be someone committed to stopping the state's demise. A performance review on the current post holder speaks for itself.