In a surprising move, Illinois State Senate President John Cullerton has announced that he plans to retire after nearly four decades in the General Assembly.
Crain’s Chicago Business and the Chicago Tribune were among the outlets reporting Cullerton’s decision, and a spokesman confirmed the decision to NBC 5.
Cullerton announced his decision at a meeting of the Democratic Senate caucus following the legislature's adjournment on Thursday night in Springfield.
"I look forward to watching this august chamber and all you will accomplish," Cullerton said in a statement. "As we all know, there will be bumps in the road, but they will be paved over with new ideas and solutions, and a constantly changing body of members who are eager to bring their own vision and signature to our illustrious Illinois Senate."
Cullerton told reporters in Springfield that he will leave office in January, and said that he is leaving office to spend more time with his family.
"After 41 years in the legislature and 40 years of marriage, I'm finally going to live up to my promise to retire," he said.
Governor J.B. Pritzker praised Cullerton's tenure, saying that he "appreciated" the senator's work on important issues.
"John Cullerton has been a passionate advocate for improving Illinois, whether it was his focus on ending the scourge of youth smoking, dedication to fully funding education or efforts to advance critically needed infrastructure throughout the state," he said. "I wish him all the best in the years to come, and I know that Pam and his children will be glad to start their next chapter as a family."
Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady also praised Cullerton's leadership, saying that the Senate will "forever be better" as a result of his time in office.
"We may not have always agreed on how best to address the issues facing the state, but there can be no denying John always put the people of Illinois first," he said.
Cullerton was first elected to office in 1979, serving in the Illinois House of Representatives and representing the 7th District on Chicago’s North Side. He moved over to the State Senate in 1991, and was elected as the president of that body in 2009.