Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday that Illinois needs fair legislative maps, but he couldn’t say if he would help usher in a constitutional amendment question for voters to determine how to change Illinois’ political map-making process.

Some Democrats and Republicans have said there needs to be a new process to draw legislative boundaries. Critics have said the existing process leads to parties in power drawing maps benefiting their party, not voters.

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, said voters should pick their politicians. Politicians shouldn’t be picking their voters.

“We ought to have an independent commission like we have in Iowa or Arizona or other states to redraw our maps,” LaHood said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday he wants competitive races.

“As I’ve said many times before, I’m going to veto any map that is unfair and it’s important to me that we have districts that are drawn so that they’re competitive,” Pritzker said. “We want to give the voters the best opportunity that we can to elect the people that they want to.”

But the governor wouldn’t say if he’d push for an amendment to change Illinois’ map-making process, as he’s pushed for other changes.

“Well, again, I want a fair map process,” Pritzker said. “I don’t know whether we’ll be able to get an amendment put through in the legislative session, but I do know that in the end when we get the Census done and when we actually go to drawing the maps, it’s important to me that those maps be drawn in a fair fashion.”

Pritzker campaigned on getting a constitutional amendment question in front of voters to change the state’s income tax structure from a flat tax to a progressive structure with higher rates on higher earners. He pushed for the amendment in the legislature this spring, which ultimately passed along party lines. Republicans opposed the measure saying it was a blank check tax increase. The question will be in front of voters in November 2020.

The governor also used his political weight to get a variety of other major laws passed, including adult-use cannabis legalization, a gambling expansion bill and $45 billion capital plan pay for infrastructure, and a host of other measures.

State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said he hopes Pritzker decides to support an amendment to change how maps are drawn in Illinois. As to the governor’s promise of vetoing a map that was not “fair,” Butler said time will tell.

“The definition of 'fair' probably could be discussed, but certainly if we believe they aren’t fair maps, we’re going to hold his feet to the fire on that,” Butler said.

The next ten-year map follows the 2020 Census. The next time voters can vote to change the process would be the 2020 election. No such question has been approved by the legislature.

Staff Reporter

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.