'I love the job': Morrison cites family as reason for not seeking reelection to state House
State Rep. Tom Morrison wrapped up his last regular session in the General Assembly Friday, nearing the end -- at least for now -- of a legislative career that began in 2011.
The Palatine Republican will serve until January, but he will not seek reelection in November.
Although the state's finances continue to be on his mind, Morrison cited his family as the chief reason for not running again. He said it was not uncommon for him to drive home from Springfield after a day in session to spend time with his wife and four young children, then head right back to the legislature.
"So, that's the crux of it," Morrison said. "I love the job, I love the people of our area, I love the issues, but the capital is 200 miles away."
For the last decade, Morrison's 54th District has included parts of Palatine, Inverness, Rolling Meadows, Hoffman Estates, Arlington Heights, Barrington and Schaumburg. But under the new legislative map, Morrison lives in the 51st District, currently represented by Republican Chris Bos of Lake Zurich.
Morrison said redistricting and a possible primary battle against a fellow incumbent played only a small role in his decision.
Morrison said he doesn't have any specific plans once his term ends. He said his various experiences, including previous ownership of a cleaning business, provide him with several career options. He doesn't rule out a future run for elected office and said several issues still will be unresolved when he leaves office.
Among them is the state's unfunded pension liability.
"The pension liability is exacerbating the brain drain and making our ability to adequately fund human services that much more difficult," he said.
The state's ability to care for people with special needs and the elderly is affected by "such a huge percentage of the budget just going to try to keep pace with these unaffordable pensions," he said.
He said he's brought attention to the issue by opting out of the legislators pension plan and encouraging others to do the same. A fiscal conservative, Morrison said he led the way in cutting costs by reducing his office budget every year, sometimes as much as 20%.
Morrison said he aspired to serve as an advocate for the public to be involved in government.
"Your local and state officials have a far bigger impact on your day to day than what happens in Washington, D.C.," he said, referring to property taxes as an example.
"People still have to be engaged and involved," he said. "We need an educated and active citizenry."