This editorial ran in the September 23, 2017, edition of the Belleville News-Democrat:
Sometimes chickens come home to roost. Sometimes they fly the coop.
There are 25 Illinois state lawmakers getting out, and 19 of them voted for saddling taxpayers with the 32-percent income tax increase that no one believes really fixed anything.
Between when Gov. Bruce Rauner was inaugurated and by the time the next legislature takes office, 36 percent of the Illinois House and 25 percent of the Illinois Senate will have turned over.
The upside of dysfunction seems to be that if you allow a two-year budget impasse, if you let your deadbeat pile of bills grow from $6.6 billion in 2014 to $16 billion today, and if you ignore pension obligations until they are in a $130 billion hole, then all that will lead to frustration. In fact, it leads to enough frustration to make you want to get out.
Trouble is, mostly the wrong folks are getting out. The King of Illinois will remain. State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, is one of those leaving.
To the good, Signal Hill Elementary's favorite parent, state Sen. James Clayborne, is quitting. The No. 2 Democrat in the Illinois Senate decided it is time to go, leaving behind a history of "no comments," state jobs for close female friends, constituent disdain and head-nodding votes including for that tax hike.
McCarter says the exodus is another argument for term limits. Those 25 departees on average hit the 9-year minimum for a legislative pension.
State lawmakers did accept pay for two years even when they weren't doing their jobs to pass a budget, much less a balanced budget. But at least they were consistent in underfunding their own pension system. It has just 13 percent of the needed funds.
McCarter says if lawmaker terms were limited it would help ensure people were in Springfield to get something done and get out, not to put in their nine and get paid for life.
Lawmakers know 2018 elections will be tough. When 15 House Republicans crossed over to vote for the income tax hike, Illinois Republican chairman Tim Schneider said he was "confident voters will hold those politicians accountable for choosing Mike Madigan over the people of Illinois."
Very likely, but they seem to be eliminating themselves before voters do.