As I sit down and sort through my desk after a long and difficult legislative session, I am a bit perplexed from reading the celebratory headlines of a session we just barely weathered.
I have taken a few days to reflect not only on this session, but the last three years. I would like to offer a different perspective and let you decide. My goal is always to be accessible, fair, and to lead from the middle, always emphasizing understanding of both sides of the important issues at hand.
Governor Pritzker was not kidding when he said he wanted to pass a large agenda to earn the title of the most progressive governor in the nation. With large supermajorities ready to do the heavy lifting, his agenda was fully realized. Democrats hold every constitutional state office, as well as supermajorities in the House (74-44) and in the Senate (40-19). Some may say, "Right On," but let me tell you with those odds, important issues are rarely negotiated with all peoples’ best interests at heart.
The bill that would become the state’s fiscal year 2020 budget was filed just hours before the Illinois House voted on it. This is a typical tactic to shutter transparency to not only the legislators, but to Illinois citizens. The $40.628 billion budget that passed was $1 billion more than the Governor had proposed in February. This was mainly due to the unexpected tax windfall received in April. Do you realize general revenue spending has increased almost $10 billion since 2009? And please don’t forget that we saw the largest permanent income tax increase in 2017 of 32 percent.
I have heard for the last few years how awful Governor Rauner was, and because of him, how Illinois is broke and broken. But miraculously, this session alone, the majority party introduced over $12 billion in new spending. Why introduce new spending? Should any surplus go toward new programs, or should it pay down our "structural deficits" like education, our underfunded pension systems and the backlog of bills? To refresh your memory on the backlog, $6.6 billion of bills currently sit at the Comptroller’s office awaiting payment, an estimated $1.2 billion at agencies, and $6 billion was refinanced in 2018. Many of these debts are owed to small business struggling to get by while our state government spends more and more.
The key to the success of our state is growth — and we can only do that through structural and political reforms. We must stop adding mandates on our schools, our small and large businesses and our local communities. While I may have worn out my "no" button voting to protect families in my district from destructive policies and additional taxes and fees, there were several great reforms passed, including incentives for job creation.
I refused to support excessive spending and voted against the $40.628 billion budget and the many tax increases creatively tacked onto the much-needed infrastructure capital bills. I stand with those who reject the notion that the State of Illinois needs another income tax increase. I pledge to always listen to the needs and concerns of the citizens of my district to ensure I am truly representing you, and I look forward to seeing you this summer at parades, festivals, events and at your door. Thank you for the honor of serving you as your state representative.