insight magazine

Capitol Report

Ready for the 2016 Election?

Illinois voters have a lot to decide this November. Here’s a brief guide.
Marty Green, Esq. ICPAS VP of Government Relations

The Presidential Election may be the nation’s media darling, but Illinois voters have many more choices to make when they head to the ballot box this November. Aside from selecting a presidential candidate, Illinois voters will be electing a U.S. Senator, State Comptroller, Member of Congress, State Representative, and in some cases, their State Senator. Voters also will be presented with a question whether to amend the Illinois Constitution. Here’s what to expect.

Incumbent Republican Senator Mark Kirk will face off against Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth to retain his U.S. Senate seat. Kirk, who is completing his first term as Senator, was previously a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Duckworth, who currently represents the 8th Congressional District, is completing her second term in the U.S. House.

In the race for State Comptroller, incumbent Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger will be facing Democratic nominee and Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza. Munger was appointed to fill the vacancy left in the Comptroller’s Office upon the death of former Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. Comptroller Munger has extensive experience as an executive with Helene Curtis/Unilever. Mendoza is completing her second term as City Clerk and previously served six terms as a Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives.

Moving down the ballot, all 118 members of the Illinois House of Representatives are up for reelection. Of the 118 House seats, 50 are viewed as competitive races. As for the Illinois Senate, 40 of 59 seats are up for reelection, with 12 considered closely contested. I think it’s likely the Democrats will maintain their control over both Chambers of the Illinois General Assembly.

As for that constitutional amendment I mentioned, while there were a number of legislative initiatives brought forward to amend the Illinois Constitution, only one received the requisite number of votes in both Chambers to appear on the ballot. The so called “lockbox” amendment would amend the revenue article to block lawmakers from using transportation-related tax revenues, such as the gas tax, tolls, and license and vehicle registration fees, for non-transportation related expenses. Specifically, revenues collected from these sources would be spent only on road construction and repair projects, enforcement of traffic laws, debt associated with transit projects and certain administrative costs related to transportation operations. Since 2003, the legislature and Governor have swept $6.4B from the road fund to cover other budget gaps and costs of state government.

The 2016 Illinois Independent Redistricting Amendment was a second proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution. Unfortunately, the Illinois Supreme Court recently invalidated this important citizen initiative and it will not appear on the November ballot. This was Independent Maps’ second attempt at a redistricting amendment that would put an end to the current system of redistricting, where legislators draw General Assembly district map boundaries after each decennial census. Instead, a restructured independent nonpartisan redistricting commission would have been put in place to draw the district lines. This measure would have removed lawmakers—and political agendas—from the process.

The Independent Maps group attempted a similar redistricting amendment in 2014, but the Circuit Court ruled that it was unconstitutional since it went beyond the structural and procedural subjects contained in the legislative article.

The Illinois Secretary of State is required to mail an explanatory pamphlet of the proposed amendment to each residential customer of the “Illinois Postal Authority” before the November election. This pamphlet will include information on the proposed amendment and arguments for and against to help to educate voters.  

As we get closer to the November elections, you’ll see more information on these candidates and proposed amendments. The ICPAS Government Relations Office will be watching developments closely and keeping you informed along the way. Visit us for more.