Democracy costs money, and the multiple efforts to change the Illinois Constitution on the ballot in November could cost the state as much as $4 million in printing, mailing and advertising to tell you about them.
Lawmakers have approved two constitutional questions - involving crime victims' rights and voters' rights - that will be on the November ballot. If voters approve, they'll be added to the state constitution.
Outside groups have proposed two more that have been challenged by lawsuits, one to change how the state draws political boundaries and one, from GOP governor candidate Bruce Rauner, to slap eight-year term limits on lawmakers.
State law requires Secretary of State Jesse White's office to print and mail about 5.4 million pamphlets -- one to every household in the state, plus a few to keep around if anyone wants one. That is presuming all four amendments can go into a single mailer. The mailers will include pros and cons of each amendment and what the proposal actually says.
They'll arrive six weeks to a month before the election to let voters know what they'll be voting on, assuming they don't immediately get thrown into the trash (please recycle) with the huge volume of less-objective and sometimes terrifying political mail that will also be coming at that time of year.
White also has to place legal notices in newspapers across the state with the same kind of information.
It's not White's decision to do it or not do it, but he'll have to find the money in his budget because state law says he has to. While lawmakers approved two of the four amendments that could face voters in November, they didn't give White the money to pay for the mailing.
Spokesman Dave Druker says the $4 million is an estimate that could go down if bids to do the work come in low and if one or more of the proposed amendments gets kept off the November ballot by the state Board of Elections or the courts.
Druker said it'd be helpful if those cases were resolved quickly, as they wouldn't want to print up 5.4 million pamphlets that become inaccurate because of a court ruling.
"If you printed it, you'd potentially have a document here that's irrelevant," he said.
Law requires the mailers be printed in multiple languages, based on census information.
About 3 million will be printed in English. About 2.3 million will be printed in Spanish. About 70,000 will include Chinese, English and Spanish all in the same pamphlet. And 13,000 will be printed in English, Spanish, Chinese and Hindi.
The Board of Elections says Rauner's term limits amendment appears to have enough signatures to make it on November's ballot, but a lawsuit challenging it remains.
On the other hand, supporters of the political boundaries amendment have until the end of today to submit evidence the board is wrong about its call that they don't appear to have enough.
Party leaders had until this week to add candidates to the ballot where there wasn't anyone in the March primary.
Republicans added Vince Kolber of Chicago to run against Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley in the 5th Congressional District
For the Illinois Senate, Republicans appointed Brian Russell of Oswego to run against Democratic state Sen. Linda Holmes of Aurora.
In the Illinois House, Democratic state Rep. Anna Moeller was appointed as expected to defend the seat once held by Keith Farnham and Republicans have tapped Elgin attorney Jeffrey Meyer to challenge her.
Republicans Peter Breen of Lombard and state Rep. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove, who both won hotly contested primaries in March, picked up challengers, too. Breen is set to face Democrat Marian Tomlinson of Glen Ellyn, and Democrats picked Elizabeth Chaplin of Downers Grove to take on Sandack.
Hultgren in Normandy today
U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, a Winfield Republican, is set to be at Omaha Beach this morning as part of a delegation of Illinois officials remembering the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.
"I look forward to honoring the 553 Illinois soldiers buried in the American Normandy Cemetery," he said in a statement. "In the face of extreme danger, they exemplified bravery and valor on the beaches of Normandy."
Hultgren's opponent in November, Democrat Dennis Anderson of Gurnee, is going to be having a number of town hall meetings, including a stop Wednesday at the Warrenville Park District office, 3S260 Warren Avenue. It starts at 7:15.
A brighter future?
The authors of the relatively new book "Fixing Illinois" visited the Daily Herald editorial board to talk about their tome and their 98 ideas to make the state a better place to live.
It's widely available online, and authors James Nowlan and J. Thomas Johnson try to outline a number of specific proposals. One that came up in our talk that's not in the book: Taking away public officials' pensions.
The theory, Johnson said, is that while many officials are good, honest people, the ones who abuse the system reflect badly on everyone else.
He suggests giving lawmakers a 5 percent pay bump and moving them to 401(k)-style plans for the good of everyone.
It's the kind of suggestion they say needs to be part of broad changes to state policies.
"The last few years," Johnson says, "everything written about the state has been negative."