Ill. lawmakers decide to move on

April 18, 2012 8:26:55 PM PDT
The Illinois House has approved a plan making it harder to raise government pension benefits. It would require a three-fifths vote by the House and Senate to pass the increase.

The plan comes as a number of men and women in the General Assembly have decided it's time to move on.

There are as many reasons to quit the Illinois House and Senate as there are lawmakers who have left already or are planning to leave by early next year.

"I'll be 70 years old in January of next year when the term ends," said Rep. Connie Howard, (D) Chicago.

"I think that this process frustrates almost everybody except those who are at the very top," said Sen. Chris Lauzen, (R) Aurora.

"I'm leaving to get some balance in my life," said Rep. Karen May, (D) Highland Park. "I've worked very hard but this is a job that's 24-7."

Since January of 2011, 12 of the 119 House members have either resigned or died. Another six, according to a spokesman, are not running for re-election to the House including one running for the state Senate.

Of the 59 senators who took the oath in January 2011, unofficially at least 13 will not return next January.

"It's time for me to move on and somebody else to step in and be the new state senator," said Sen. Susan Garrett, (D) North Suburbs.

Other incumbents will leave their chambers involuntarily after next fall's elections. They include many Republican victims of Democratic controlled redistricting.

Ron Sandack says he was gerrymandered out of the Senate and hopes to continue his public service by running for the House.

"The Democrats in control get to draw the maps," said Sandack. "My 21st District that I currently serve in moved out. I don't live in that district anymore."

But many others are leaving safe seats. They complain of frustration with the state's persistent fiscal crisis.

"Here they ignore mine and other financial experts' advice and they go bankrupt, and then they look around and say what happened," said Sen. Lauzen.

State Rep. Karen Yarbrough, who is leaving to run for Cook County recorder of deeds, says the Illinois capitol is long overdue for new faces.

"You leave out of here three ways: You're carried out of here, you get voted out of office or you elect to leave," said Yarbrough. "Sometimes you've done all that you could do, and you move on."