Filling out a committee that will look into the effects of Illinois’ first-ever cap on campaign contributions, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) surprised campaign finance reform advocates yesterday by writing in a press release that they will ask the appointees to "look into how the state might begin public financing of campaigns."
The results won't be delivered until the end of 2011, so don't expect any action until at least the 2012 legislative session. And the top two Democrats in Springfield aren't exactly true champions of campaign finance issues, having passed a decent but inadequate reform bill last year following Rod Blagojevich's impeachment. Still, it's a welcome development for those who argue that clean elections help diminish the influence of moneyed interests on our politics. Over the past two years, State Rep. Will Burns (D-Chicago) has pushed legislation that would have delivered limited public funds and matching funds for executive, legislative, and judicial candidates who voluntarily qualify for and enter the system. His neighbor, State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), has also authored a standalone public financing bill for judicial elections. Both were left to die in committee. This study might provide the push each needs.