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Lawmakers Announcing Retirement Plans Amid Major Political Battles

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Illinois State Capitol

Illinois State Capitol buillding in Springfield (AP Photo)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — It’s not unusual for lawmakers to announce they won’t seek re-election in a redistricting year, but a Springfield political expert says that will present challenges this time around.

Not only are more Illinois state lawmakers announcing retirement plans this year, but it comes at a time when a lot of big political issues remain on the table.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Alex Degman reports

“You’re losing institutional memory; you’re losing expertise,” said Kent Redfield, professor emeritus of political studies at the University of Illinois Springfield. “You know, for these capable people who are new to the process, there is a learning curve involved.”

Billions in overdue bills, pension reform and tax code changes are just a handful of things lawmakers are working on where those with 10, 15 or 20 years of experience from some members would be helpful. But Redfield says fresh sets of eyes and ears could bring new perspectives to ongoing problems.

Much has changed in Illinois politics since the last updated legislative map was released. The issues are more serious, and the political climate is more partisan. Redfield says that could play a role in solving the state’s problems as well.

“If you’ve got a more polarized legislature that comes from the political climate we have now, that might make compromise more difficult,” Redfield said. “It’s never a good time to have a lot of new people in training.”

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