By Dick Kay
Published July 22nd 2001 in WMAQ-TV, Chicago

There is a move underway to return to the old way of electing State Representatives in Illinois. It would add 59 members to the House and its a great idea. 20 years ago political gadfly Pat Quinn and his Political Honesty Coalition. They waged a successful campaign  for a cutback amendment. It cut the number of House seats by 59...going from 177 members to 118. The idea was economy of scale; the fewer politicians the less the cost to taxpayers.

It was a grand experiment now gone awry. Under the old system voters elected three State Representatives from each Senate District and one had to be of the opposite political party. There were Republican Representatives from Chicago and Democrats in DuPage. Independents used bullet voting; casting all three votes for a single candidate thereby guaranteeing independent voices in Springfield. That forced Republicans and Democrats to work together and coalitions could block bad bills.

We lost some of the brightest minds in the Legislature and the cutback concentrated power in the hands of three or four legislative leaders who now rule with iron fists. If Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President James Pate Philip say nothing moves; nothing moves...and they can spread the pork and campaign funds to keep members in line.  It is government by a few. What the cutback amendment saved us in salaries and expenses it cost us far more Democracy. The old way was the best way.

I'm Dick Kay.