Talk about jumping ship.
At least 19 Illinois lawmakers who voted in favor of a contentious income tax hike this summer are either resigning or won’t seek new terms.
It’s politically comparable to what was done by the owner of the ocean liner in “The Poseidon Adventure” — the one who called for full speed ahead despite obvious safety issues.
Aboard our good ship Illinois, about 15 percent of members in the Democrat-controlled General Assembly are moving for the exits. All but six backed the tax hike.
That’s hardly a coincidence.
Some of those getting out of the game say the Springfield ecosystem is just too argumentative and shambolic to get anything done.
"There is a toxic environment. People seem to not be able to get along, even outside of the Capitol," retiring state Rep. Steve Andersson, R-Geneva, recently told the Associated Press.
That’s a remarkable assessment for someone who up until July was House Republican leader, one of the highest ranking positions in state government.
Andersson also happens to be one of the nine Republicans who broke party ranks and joined 61 Democrats to override GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the budget bill.
The tax hike — 3.75 to 4.95 percent for personal income tax and 5.25 to 7 percent for corporate tax — was a compromise that Rauner opposed. He wielded his veto, and only after GOP lawmakers switched sides was it overridden.
The deal got Illinois its first budget in two years, but it didn’t really solve the funding issue. The state will probably have to borrow up to $6 billion to make the numbers work.
In the meantime, resentment over the tax plan has grown.
Rep. Chad Hays, R- Catlin, in his resignation letter said "dislike and distrust" between Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, "has paralyzed government in Illinois."
It’s not just members of the GOP, the long-suffering minority in the General Assembly, leaving. For example, Andersson’s powerful Democratic counterpart, House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, also is stepping down.
Various polls show Illinoisans are more leery of state government than ever. Conservatives are especially torn. Consider that Rauner, who faces reelection next November, infuriated his base when he recently signed legislation expanding state health insurance coverage and Medicaid for abortions.
Such an exodus of state lawmakers underscores the reason term limits should be adopted. You vote differently if you know your time in office is limited. We dare say you vote your conscience. And maybe that would help stop lawmakers from looking the other way when gerrymandered district maps come along every decade or so.
As it is now, the arithmetic seems to be that quitting is better than getting fired.
Maybe this is the time to get that mayday distress signal ready.