Cap on donations is not brightest solution for Ill.

In a state fraught with political scandal and corruption, a fair chance for all prospective election candidates is necessary for the continued well-being of Illinois. Before Oct. 29, Illinois had been without the prospect of a fairer primary system. However, last Thursday, the Illinois House passed a compromise which would put a cap on donations to candidates in state primaries.

The bill would limit candidates to taking $50,000 from political action committees, $10,000 from unions, businesses and interest groups and $5,000 from individuals each election cycle. These limitations are a step in the right direction for Illinois politics. Donation caps will help to keep candidates out of the hands of self-interested corporations and individuals. They will help to highlight the better candidate of the race; the one with the most money from donations, not necessarily the most “generous” donor, will have an advantage. They will help to keep the political system in Illinois fair.

However, this move by the Illinois House, although positive, is not without its drawbacks. The proposal would only affect campaign primaries, not the general election itself. Even with limits on primary donations, candidates have the possibility to continue to be at the mercy of the highest bidder in the general election. The proposed limitations on campaign contributions are obviously good, especially in such a tumultuous time and in a state with such a colorful political history. Yet, the limitations are too small, too weak.

As powerful as it could be, this bill falls short of what it needs to do— reform Illinois campaign finance. If we are really going to be serious about finance reform in this state, it must be reflected in the legislation enacted. If lawmakers are running on reform platforms, it needs to show in their proposals. In truth, this proposal will not drastically affect how elections work, especially because the cap would only be for primaries.

Although the thought behind the legislation is good, it’s almost a half effort, a minute step forward, if that. As citizens of Illinois, we expect more where this came from, with power and action behind it. The legislators proposing these laws might be worried about when it comes time for them to run, but if they are true public servants, Illinois’ future— not their own— should be the ultimate priority.