House Democrat: Madigan has ‘outlived his usefulness in Springfield’
An outgoing House Democrat is speaking out about House Speaker Mike Madigan for standing in the way of major reforms that could get Illinois back on its feet.
State Rep. Mike Smiddy (D-Hillsdale) told WQAD that, with Madigan controlling the House, major reforms -- like changing the way districts are drawn in Illinois -- are blocked before they even make it onto the floor.
"As long as you have the speaker controlling what gets out of the rules (committee) for legislation, I don't see it coming anywhere close to hitting the floor," he said during the interview.
Smiddy, who lost his re-election bid for the District 71 seat to Republican opponent Tony McCombie after serving his district for four years, said he's not optimistic that the General Assembly will achieve much in the foreseeable future.
“The past two years have been a complete failure on the part of government in Illinois, and I think the next two years (are) going to be a lot more of the same,” he said.
At the center of the frustration felt by many across the state is the budget impasse, which has remained unresolved for the last year and a half.
Despite their failure to pass a budget, legislators were able to agree on a stopgap budget to temporarily fund the state until Dec. 31, meaning that, as of Jan. 1, Illinois was back to where it was a year ago -- without a budget.
“I don’t hold out a lot of hope,” Smiddy said.
A growing number of legislators have been calling for term limits and believe many Illinoisans are beginning to realize that the state’s district maps are being drawn in a way that allows legislators to pick their voters.
So far, Madigan has shown no intention of relenting his 30-plus years of control over the House. Until there is some major change in the House leadership, odds are that the battle over the budget and major reforms between Madigan and Gov. Bruce Rauner will continue.
"It's not about getting rid of your local legislator," Smiddy said. "It's all geared toward getting rid of Madigan, and in some respects I don't think that's a bad idea. I think he's kinda outlived his usefulness in Springfield."
Madigan -- who has faced minimal opposition to his position as speaker over the years -- seems to be losing popularity due the budget stalemate. He may face a challenge by a fellow Democrat, State Rep. Scott Drury (D-Highwood).
Drury has expressed interest in getting a better understanding of the nomination process for speaker. He told "Chicago Tonight" last month that he would make a decision soon.
"I’m convinced I’m the only person really studying this issue closely; and, come Jan. 11, I’ll be prepared to do the right thing for the state of Illinois and my constituents," Drury told the network.
To challenge Madigan, Drury -- who has represented District 58 since 2013, and is vice-chairperson for the Judiciary Criminal Committee -- would need two representatives to recommend him. To successfully dethrone Madigan and be elected as speaker, Drury would need 60 votes.
Republicans hold 51 of the 118 House seats.