Chesney Guest Column: Government reform proposals are olive branch toward bipartisanship

Rep. Andrew Chesney speaking to students from Highland Community College as they visited the State Capitol on Feb. 18, 2020.

It seems that politicians often forget that the money they are spending comes from you, the hardworking families of Illinois.

The process by which legislators negotiate how to spend finite taxpayer resources should be based on public policy outcomes and not political considerations. Illinois residents can see evidence their state government is operating unethically by simply reading their newspaper.

With that in mind, I proposed legislation to tackle unethical behavior and ensure our elected leaders are leading by example. Below are some of these proposals:

House Bill 1919– Campaign funds cannot be used to defend a crime

House Bill 4103– No legislating between midnight to 6:00 a.m.

House Bill 2874– No legislative pay while no balanced State Budget

House Bill 3342– $100,000 fine for legislators convicted of a felony from their service

To say these proposals are the “low-hanging fruit” of reforms is putting it mildly. I considered all of these proposals to be olive branches toward bipartisanship in proposing these reforms.

In the wake of findings in late 2020 that the state’s largest public utility engaged in a decade-long scheme to bribe the Illinois Speaker of the House, Michael Madigan, through operation of an “old-school patronage operation,” reformers certainly should have a strong case to make when it comes to improving state government operations and reforming ethics. With the endemic corruption swamping Springfield for decades, no one in the state would blame conservatives for trying to swing the pendulum hard against the one-party corrupt rule we’ve seen in Illinois for too long.

However, that’s not what happened. Republicans instead offered Democrats numerous opportunities to show Illinois they were serious about real reforms by offering numerous milquetoast suggestions that allowed Democrats an opportunity to show Illinoisans they are capable of reforming the actions we’ve seen play out time and time again in Illinois.

Thus far, no Illinois Democrats have taken the opportunity to co-sponsor these common-sense good government reform measures. I invite my democrat colleagues to do so. To that same end, I invite my Democrat colleagues to let me know about their own good government reform measures they have initiated. I am eager to review these opportunities for bipartisanship, as I hope all who serve the residents in Illinois through elected service would be inclined to consider.

All too often in Springfield, the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. If we’re serious about reforming the way the State of Illinois does its business, perhaps less emphasis should be put on “omnibus bills” and rather consider opportunities for bipartisanship through piecemeal proposals if they provide a runway toward the true launch of bipartisan government reform in Illinois.

State Representative Andrew Chesney advocates on behalf of the 89th District in Illinois. As a legislator, his policy priorities include cutting taxes, creating jobs, and government accountability and transparency. Learn more at