In an interview with NBC 5’s Zoraida Sambolin Tuesday morning, Gov. Bruce Rauner continued to push for redistricting reform despite a recent ruling from the Illinois Supreme Court that will keep the initiative off the ballot in November.
“This is really important to restore democracy in Illinois,” Rauner said. "Right now, we have a rigged system where partisan politics has determined what these districts look like.”
According to the Associated Press, the Illinois Supreme Court struck the referendum from the November ballot last week. In a 4-3 decision, the court deemed the ballot initiative unconstitutional. The measure looked to change how the state draws political boundaries by taking legislative mapmaking power from lawmakers and giving it to an independent commission. This marks the second failed attempt at overhauling redistricting in the past two years.
Nevertheless, Rauner said he would continue to push for redistricting. He urged viewers to ask lawmakers to put the referendum on the ballot, noting that the Supreme Court said the measure could be placed on the ballot if it passes the General Assembly
Rauner said a change needs to be made because districts are now being drawn along party lines. As a result, the governor noted that politicians are running unopposed in two-thirds of the elections for Illinois’ General Assembly.
“No one has the incentive to run against someone, so our voters have no choices,” Rauner said. “We need competition, we need choices, we need options or democracy doesn’t work."
The governor claimed that redistricting is currently designed to give power to incumbent politicians. Rauner said that current redistricting rules allow lawmakers to control their constituency to keep “their kind of supporters in their district.”
“Thats wrong,” Rauner said. “That creates a situation where the politicians are picking their voters, instead of the voters picking their politicians.”
During the interview, Rauner also pushed for legislative term limits, noting that lawmakers shouldn’t be in office for “20, 30, 40 years” because they’re “not accountable to their local constituents." Rauner’s primary political foe, House Speaker Mike Madigan, has been serving in the Illinois House since 1971.
“When George Washington founded America he said eight years is plenty for an official to lead,” the governor said. “I think eight years is plenty for anybody in elected office in Illinois.”
The Republican also said Illinois needs to move in a "different direction, a better direction” and stressed the need for property tax reform. The state currently has the highest property tax rates in the country.