With 42,336 elected officials as of 1992, Illinois has nearly 12,000 more state and local elected politicians than any other state.
Amazingly, with this unprecedented wealth of legislators Illinois hasn’t been able to adequately address some of its most dire problems. Illinois still ranks near the bottom of the nation in numerous key economic indicators, including unemployment rate, business climate, out migration and credit ratings.
The trend of lots of legislators starts from the top. With 59 members, Illinois has the third-largest state Senate body in the country. Only Minnesota, with 67 senators, and New York, with 62 senators, have more.
With this large workforce of politicians comes increased costs for state and local taxpayers in Illinois. In fact, Illinois legislators are among the highest paid in the country.
However, a constitutional amendment proposal for the November 2014 election looks to reduce the size of the Illinois Senate and bring it closer in line with the national average of 39.
This is part of the same proposal to enact eight-year term limits on members of the Illinois General Assembly.
The proposed structural changes to the General Assembly would reduce the number of state senators to 41 from 59 members, and increase the number of state representatives to 123 from 118 members. The net reduction in state legislators would be 13.
Even with the proposed reduction to 41 members, 33 states would still have smaller legislatures than Illinois. This includes California, Florida and Texas, three of the largest states in the nation.
While opponents are chastising the plan to reduce the number of state senators, the reduction will actually bring Illinois closer in line with the rest of the country. Also, it may kick start efforts to reduce the number of elected officials locally.
Here’s a look at how the Illinois Senate compares to other states.
|4. New Hampshire||24|
|16. West Virginia||34|
|22. South Dakota||35|
|26. Rhode Island||38|
|30. New Jersey||40|
|34. Illinois (proposed)||41|
|34. New Mexico||42|
|35. South Carolina||46|
|37. North Dakota||47|
|41. North Carolina||50|
|47. Illinois (current)||59|
|48. New York||62|
|Average senate size||39.2|