Happy New Year!
Later this month, the General Assembly returns to Springfield for the beginning of the spring session. Hanging over all of us is the specter of the ongoing dispute between Governor Rauner and General Assembly. The governor has laid out a policy agenda that includes reducing the amount of compensation given to workers injured on the job, lowering wages for construction workers, and ending collective bargaining for government employees. The governor insists on the adoption of his proposals before any discussion about a complete budget can take place.
Governor Rauner asserts that these changes will lower the cost of doing business and promote growth in Illinois amongst employers attracted to a low-regulation, low-wage environment. Respectfully, I disagree with him. States like Kansas and Wisconsin have implemented similar reforms and now find themselves facing large budget deficits. The best path to economic expansion is to achieve fiscal sanity and stability. We need to get a handle on our state’s financial situation and cease the endless lurching from crisis to crisis, relying on short-term fixes that allow us to muddle along.
That’s not to say a middle ground of reform can’t be found. There are compromises to be made on most of the governor’s agenda. But we have long since passed the point when we needed to pass a budget for our current fiscal year. Through court orders, agreements, and state law, most of our spending is going out the door at a rate far greater than we can afford.
We’re incurring long-term costs by damaging the state’s credit rating. We’re shortchanging businesses who contract with the state by failing to pay them in a timely manner. But worst of all is the heart-breaking damage that has been done to the state’s human services infrastructure.
When a social service agency lays off staff or closes its door, the need for those services doesn’t evaporate. When the individuals who do that work find a new job in a different sector or leave the state, they can’t be instantly replaced once funding is restored. Even if we were to pass a budget today, the costs of this gridlock will be paid for years to come.
The budget aside, there remains work to be done. I have or intend to introduce legislation this session dealing with environmental issues, our region’s water supply, abuses of the pension system, and criminal justice reform. I look forward to sharing more about this work as the session progresses.
57th District News
License Plate Renewal
The Illinois Secretary of State, in an effort to conserve funding for critical services, has stopped mailing out license plate renewals. You can still renew online with your ID and PIN. If you do not have that information it can be obtained by calling the Public Inquiry Division at 800-252-8980
Recently, media coverage has indicated that because of the federal REAL ID Act, Illinois driver’s licenses would cease being acceptable identification for domestic passenger airline travel. On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security announced there will be no changes in airport security policy until January of 2018. This gives the state two years to determine how to become complaint with this unfunded federal mandate.
Rand Road Survey
The Village of Mount Prospect is developing a comprehensive plan to look at opportunities and challenges for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users along the Rand Road corridor. They’ve developed a survey to gather citizen input. You can find the survey HERE