BGA Policy Director Madeleine Doubek talks to lawmakers leaving Springfield in her bi-weekly column for the Chicago Sun-Times.
We are losing good, well-meaning lawmakers who sacrificed to try to improve Illinois.
Overlooked in the budget and school funding hullabaloo are the losses among lawmakers. Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont. GOP State Rep. Chad Hays of Catlin in Eastern Illinois. Democratic state Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook. Before that, it was GOP state Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine and state Sen. Dan Kotowski of Park Ridge.
Can we learn from these departures? Can we turn exits into insight?
While many of us might reflexively think, “Great. Leave. Throw the bums out,” it’s not that simple. We’re losing institutional knowledge and experience from caring people who served.
Radogno left after failing at a “grand bargain,” following a 20-year career in Springfield. “We have to put aside personalities,” Radogno told us. “We have to prioritize what we want. Nobody gets 100 percent, but what do you absolutely have to have? When you negotiate, you need to understand and get in the skin of the person you’re talking to.”
Hays nailed the problem with our politics in announcing his departure. “Ego, money and power eclipse the desire of well-meaning and honest public servants and blame, press conferences and talking points have replaced governing. Sadly, voices of moderation and reason are increasingly elbowed out by well-financed fringe elements.” And that was before Gov. Bruce Rauner replaced key aides with people from the libertarian Illinois Policy Institute.
Can we fix what Hays describes? How do we move forward? Is it possible to end stalemates that hold humans hostage? What can citizens do to create a more constructive political environment?