Tollway Board Removals OK'd by Illinois House

Jan 8, 2019

The Illinois House on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a measure to remove the members of the Illinois Tollway Board of Directors.


State lawmakers took up the bill at the urging of Governor-elect JB Pritzker, after news reports detailed questionable spending and contracts. The proposal would remove all nine of the Tollway’s board members appointed by outgoing Governor Bruce Rauner, giving Pritzker the chance to assign replacements.

State Representative Christian Mitchell sponsored the proposal. The Chicago Democrat says the Tollway Board has acted unethically for too long.

“We believe this agency, especially given how well-documented it’s been, is a place to send a message that this is not how the new Governor-elect’s government is gonna operate.”

The Tollway Board has a reputation for patronage hiring under Democratic and Republican governors. Rauner has been criticized for not abiding by the rule that no more than five members can be from one political party and not appointing more women.

Critics have called the move political posturing, but Rep. Mitchell says it’s about stopping misconduct.

“This is not simply about getting new kids on the block," he explained. "This is about making sure that this agency operates with the integrity, the transparency, and in the best interest of the public that all taxpayers should expect.”

Mitchell says the state legislature already approved more than $1 million for "salary shortfalls." The Illinois Senate is expected to vote on the measure tomorrow.

If the Tollway board removals are approved, Governor-elect Pritzker would be able to appoint successors after he's inaugurated next week.

The Illinois House also approved another Pritzker-backed measure that would grant a 15 percent salary increase for directors at nearly 27 different state agencies.