A group aligned with Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner is saying it has gathered half of the signatures it needs to get a proposed amendment on the November ballot that limits legislators to eight years in office.
The Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits says it has gathered more than 150,000 of the 300,000 petition signatures to get the issue on the ballot in 2014.
Besides setting term limits on legislators, the group seeks to cut the size of the Illinois Senate from 59 to 41, expand the House from 118 to 123 and boost the threshold needed to override a governor’s veto from a 3/5 majority to a 2/3 majority.
The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that newly filed disclosures with the state show the organization also just got a new treasurer, as well as having raised $600,000 in August and $458,000 in the bank.
The term-limits idea lies at the heart of Rauner’s camping for governor. He’s committed to serving only eight years as governor if he’s elected, and has made the idea of throwing out entrenched Springfield politicians a centerpiece of his campaign. In September, the venture capitlaist indicated he would make a “major financial commitment” to the term limits movement.
As an idea, term limits remain popular with Illinois voters. A 2012 poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute found a majority of voters favored term limits for Illinois legislators. The idea has also been tried before in the state, including an effort in the 1990s by none other than current governor Pat Quinn, who was then State Treasurer.
However, the issue as envisioned by the Rauner group has the potential to prove unconstitutional, as the state’s constitution limits ways citizens can amend the structure of the legislature.
However, from a political standpoint, tapping into voter anger over corruption and gridlock in Springfield could well help drive voter turnout in the November election. Such an outcome could also help the candidate who most successfully capitalizes on a theme of change in the governor’s race.
Currently, that candidate looks to be Rauner, who also happens to be chairman of the committee.
With means with his deep pockets and high visibility, the question may not be whether the issue makes it to the November ballot, but whether it helps decide who will be the state’s next chief executive.