Illinois state lawmakers discuss election trends
By Kyle Maichle
CHICAGO, Illinois: Three state lawmakers in Illinois talked about the previous session of the General Assembly and how the upcoming mid-term elections will effect the 2011-2012 session during an event held on October 21, 2010. The three lawmakers spoke at a forum hosted by the Illinois Policy Institute.
State Senators Susan Garrett and Matt Murphy along with State Representative Patricia Bellock each gave their perspectives on the previous legislative session. Senator Garrett, a Democrat, said that lawmakers failed to set priorities during the recent state budget. Garrett blasted lawmakers for failing to consider budget cuts of government programs on the basis of their size and effectiveness. Also, Garrett said that lawmakers need to cut down the use of consulting contracts in order to reign in the deficit.
Matt Murphy, a Republican State Senator, said that the previous legislative session was "frustrating." Murphy expressed his frustration over lawmakers "kicking the can down the road" on issues involving the state's fiscal health. Murphy cited the lack of pension reform as a reason why Illinois is struggling financially. Also, Murphy took issue with Governor Pat Quinn not willing to make cuts and working with Legislators to achieve a balanced budget.
Representative Patricia Bellock said that priority of the General Assembly in the next session is on pension and entitlement reforms. The Representative said that the state needs to reign in on Medicaid fraud. Bellock also argued that Medicaid fraud has been a major reason why the budget deficit has increased. One solution Bellock proposes to fix Medicaid fraud is to have an extensive audit of Medicaid.
When asked about how the elections could effect the General Assembly, State Senator Murphy said that he is optimistic that the mid-term elections could force positive changes in Springfield. However, none of the three lawmakers commented on whether the Democrats would lose seats in both houses of the General Assembly. Democrats currently control both houses of Illinois legislative body.
Ballotpedia's state legislative competitiveness index rates Illinois 39th. The main reason for the rating is the lack of open seats being contested during the general election in-spite of rating 25th in relation to how competitive the primary elections were.
- [From remarks gathered in attendance at Illinois Policy Institute Forum on October 21, 2010]