Barickman: Harassment Culture Plagues State Government
State Sen. Jason Barickman said the latest string of sexual harassment allegations within the Illinois Democratic Party provides one more reason why longtime House Speaker Mike Madigan should lose his leadership post.
But the Bloomington Republican said he doubts that will happen because many within the party would fear "going it alone" without the speaker's backing if he remains in office.
"Mike Madigan has been the 'Godfather' of probably more political careers and more successful lobbyists and more successful people than possibly anyone else in Illinois political history," Barickman told GLT's Sound Ideas.
Former Gov. Pat Quinn is calling on Madigan to step down as Democratic Party chairman.
Barickman said the recent sexual harassment allegations point to a larger cultural problem in state government, one that goes beyond either party. He added in light of the #MeToo movement, Madigan has to help lead the way in fixing the problem.
"Any organization that is going through the significant problems that our state government is going through would say the answer is a change at the top (is needed)," Barickman said.
Barickman said while lawmakers should not be congratulated for passing a budget on time for the first time since 2014, he's disappointed lawmakers left Springfield with important business unfinished. He said economic reforms that could help jumpstart the economy were put on the backburner and will now have to wait until after the November election.
"Those are issues which aren't fixed by the adoption of the budget."
"Those are issues which aren't fixed by the adoption of the budget. They are issues for which there's not an agreement among the parties on how to address them," Barickman said.
Barickman acknowledged the billions of dollars raised by last year's tax increase helped the state get a spending plan done, but said that tax hike—which he opposed—enabled lawmakers to dodge meaningful economic reforms.
"By making things easier in how to spend it, it also makes it more difficult in resolving things like Medicaid reform, pension reform," Barickman said.
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