By: Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner
Mike Madigan’s tenure as House Speaker is over after nearly 40 years at the helm. In his place, Democrats have elected Hillside Democrat Emanuel “Chris” Welch to lead the chamber. Welch was elected Speaker when the 102nd General Assembly convened at noon on January 13.
Madigan’s loss of power is a monumental change, but just because he’s gone, it doesn’t mean Illinois’ problems are over.
Real change won’t happen until Illinois’ General Assembly dismantles the political Machine Madigan helped build over four decades.
Madigan, whatever his faults, knows how to win elections and he built a massive, experienced, disciplined organization that serves that goal. The Machine thrives thanks to policies designed not to serve the public good but to empower itself: Illinois’ “House Rules,” onerous collective bargaining laws, constitutionally-protected benefits, the nation’s largest local government network, politically-drawn legislative maps and more. Those all keep the current political class in power.
The cost that system imposes on ordinary Illinoisans – high taxes, falling home values, growing debts, etc. – is enormous. Too many Illinoisans have concluded that flight is their only recourse, resulting in lost population and a crippled tax base. No state is losing people like Illinois is.
Unfortunately, there’s no sign that this new legislature will pursue any of the reforms needed to turn this state around. If anything, they doubled down on spending this week when they passed bills that give Chicago firefighters bigger pensions, the Chicago Teachers Union greater bargaining power, and more education and business equity funding.
Their actions will accelerate Illinois’ fiscal decline. And when the state hits bottom, real solutions that can transform Illinois must be ready. That’s what Wirepoints is laboring to provide. We’ve already put together the most necessary reform of all: a comprehensive pension solution. Learn all about it here.
Illinoisans may want to celebrate that Madigan is finally gone. But the real celebration shouldn’t begin until his political machine is finally dismantled and better policies put in its place.