30 state lawmakers, including Fine, Bellock, Biss, leaving office
The Illinois General Assembly will not see the return of 30 lawmakers, including Reps. Laura Fine (D-Glenview) and Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) and Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) from north Cook County.
Twenty-three members (20 percent) of the House of Representatives and seven members of the Senate will be leaving their seats, either resigning, not running for re-election or running for different government positions.
The Illinois Policy Institute credits the reaction from constituents to the tax hike passed by the General Assembly as a major reason for so many departures. Of those leaving, eight of the 11 House Republicans voted for the tax hike, with 11 of the 12 House Democrats vacating their seats voting for it as well. The other Democrat resigned prior to the vote.
The General Assembly passed a budget featuring a tax hike in July, overriding a veto from Gov. Bruce Rauner. The plan raised the personal income tax to 4.95 percent from 3.75 percent, as well as increasing the corporate income tax to 7 percent from 5.25 percent.
Fine and Biss voted for the tax hike. Bellock voted against it. Bellock will not be running for re-election. Fine is running for a state Senate seat. Biss is running for office outside of the General Assembly.
Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) also pointed to social media as a factor with a “major impact” on lawmakers leaving.
According to a press release from the Illinois Policy Institute, close to 300,000 Illinoisans follow the group’s Facebook page, and in an eight-day window this summer, including when the General Assembly passed the budget, Illinoisans sent 35,000 emails through the institute’s “contact your lawmaker” tool.