CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner accused each other of being dishonest on the issue of term limits, Rauner filed an emergency petition asking the Illinois Supreme Court to decide whether voters can weigh in on the question in November.
The reason for the urgency is because Friday is the deadline for the Illinois State Board of Elections to certify the Nov. 4 ballot.
In seeking to have the state’s highest court weigh in as soon as possible, Rauner called term limits “one of the most important structural reforms we can make for the people of Illinois.”
“Pat Quinn is a phony on term limits,” Rauner said. “Years ago, Pat Quinn said he was in favor of term limits. Today he is fighting against term limits. He likes his power.”
However, Rauner’s term limits proposal would not have imposed term limits on the governor, or other statewide elected officials.
But Quinn said he still supports term limits for all elected officials, noting he fought for them in 1994 and 2008. However, he said Rauner’s proposed ballot initiative was poorly written, and does not pass constitutional muster, which is why a Cook County judge and the Illinois Appellate Court rejected Rauner’s plan.
“In 1994, I led the effort to get term limits on the ballot; pure term limits. The Supreme Court said it couldn’t go on the ballot back in 1994 – 20 years ago. He (Rauner) was nowhere to be found. He’s the phony,” Quinn said. “I’m an, I think, authentic advocate of term limits long before Bruce Rauner showed up.”
On Wednesday, the Illinois Appellate Court upheld a lower court ruling that Rauner’s proposed term limit referendum did not meet constitutional requirements to appear on the ballot.
A proposal by Rauner’s Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits would have asked voters to decide if state lawmakers should be limited to eight years in office.
The measure also would have increased the size of the Illinois House from 118 members to 123, reduced the size of the Illinois Senate from 59 to 41, and raised the threshold for lawmakers to override a governor’s veto from three-fifths of both chambers to two-thirds.
A three-judge panel of the Appellate Court ruled this week the measure is invalid, noting the Illinois Constitution requires ballot initiatives regarding the legislative branch “be limited to structural and procedural” changes to the General Assembly. The court held term limits to be neither, but instead a matter of “eligibility or qualifications” to run for office.
It also ruled the measure violates the constitution by combining “separate and unrelated questions” in one initiative, stating term limits and the threshold for overriding a veto are not related.
Rauner admitted, although he favors term limits, he did vote for more than two terms for former Gov. Jim Thompson, who served a total of 14 years in office. Rauner said he voted for Thompson because “he was the best alternative running for governor. I believe he should have term-limited himself, but he didn’t, and of the options, he was the best one.”