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In 1981, President Ronald Reagan said, “When we honor our flag we honor what we stand for as a Nation – freedom, equality, justice, and hope.”  In case you were wondering why you saw so many flags this week, June 14th was Flag Day.

Honoring our flag dates back to our own Revolutionary War.  The first President to proclaim Flag Day on June 14th was Woodrow Wilson in 1916.  Congress established National Flag Day on June 14th in 1946.  If you pass by a flag, take a moment to remember what it stands for and think about the brave men and women who fought so that flag might still wave.

One of the challenges in a legislative district as large as the 89th is its size.  The 89th District covers all or part of six counties in Northwestern Illinois.  Many folks in the 89th District from East Dubuque and Hanover to Chadwick and Milledgeville don’t have the same luxury of dropping in on the district office in Freeport as folks do in bigger cities.

That’s why I continue to hold mobile office hours throughout the 89th District every year.  This month I have scheduled the first mobile office hours of 2018 in Galena at the Visitor’s Center, in East Dubuque in the Public Library on June 21st, in Mount Carroll in the Courthouse Community Room, and in Lanark in the Public Library on June 22nd.  Others are in the works and we will issue news releases for each location with specifics to local news outlets and post details on our website and social media pages.

Constituents will have an opportunity to visit with knowledgeable staff and ask questions, and also obtain important information about fraud prevention, health care, end of life care, civil rights, and the legislative process.  My staff and I look forward to meeting you and helping in any way we can.

Future columns will continue to explore and expound on Illinois’ recently passed budget.  I believe the budget discussion in many ways extends beyond dollars and cents to reflect our principles and priorities.

In a commencement address at Hillsdale College in 2016, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas when speaking about how his upbringing shaped his principles, said, “If there was to be independence, self-sufficiency, or freedom, then we first had to understand, accept, and discharge our responsibilities.  The latter were the necessary (but not always sufficient) antecedents or precursors of the former.  The only guarantee was that if you did not discharge your responsibilities, there could be no independence, no self-sufficiency, and no freedom.”

Many of us can relate to Justice Thomas.  We share similar upbringings and hold many of the same principles.  My own journey included growing up in public housing, and working from an early age.  It included a hunger and determination to be sure the promise of America became a reality for me and my family.

That hunger drove me every day through my service in the US Army.  That determination drove me every day during my tenure as a Stephenson County Sheriff’s Deputy.  That hunger drove me to start my first business and many more.  That determination drives me every day to serve my customers and my constituents to the best of my ability.

I do not believe that we need budgets built on old, tired, failed agendas.  I do not believe we need Springfield bureaucrats and leadership writing a budget that tells us that they know better what’s best for us.

We need to move forward and leave behind the thinking that the best measure of government is the number of people “served”.  It’s thinking like that which led to the creation of almost 7,000 government bodies in Illinois.  Some are inefficient, wasteful and need to be eliminated.   
If Springfield ran McDonald’s, they would open a store in Death Valley because it is underserved, and people are entitled to enjoy McDonald’s wherever they may be.

I do agree with screenwriter David Milch, who wrote, “Every man’s entitled to hope.”  I believe everyone is entitled to hope.  I believe that the promise of America is that each of us has the hope and opportunity to fulfill our purpose and live with dignity.  It takes work.  It takes hard work.  In America, it can be done.

I look forward to discussing the budget in further detail in coming weeks.  It was President Lyndon Johnson who said, “You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.”

If you have any additional thoughts or ideas, you can reach me or Sally at 815-232-0774, or visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com and use the form to send me an e-mail.



During the period of June 15, 16, 17 and 18, 2018, it shall be legal for any person to fish in waters wholly or in part within the jurisdiction of the State, including the Illinois portion of Lake Michigan, without possessing a sport fishing license, salmon stamp or inland trout stamp.

Fishing Regulations visit
https://www.ifishillinois.org/regulations/2018FishingGuide.pdf

Fishing Info visit
https://www.ifishillinois.org/

Fish question email Fish Dept. at
DNR.Fisheries@illinois.gov

Happy Father's Day Weekend! 
Rep. Stewart attends the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics with the Freeport Police Department, Stephenson County Sheriff's Police and the Regional Coordinator from the Rockford Police Department on Thursday, June 14th.



Many enjoyed the parades over the past few weeks, despite the sweltering heat on Memorial Day. Those who marched in Pecatonica’s Memorial Day Parade may have seen a Main Street mainstay, Pecatonica Hardware. Ted Kramer is the owner of Pecatonica Hardware. Ted has owned and operated his hardware store for 51 years. His hard work was recently honored by the BestinIL.com website when they ranked Pecatonica Hardware in the Top 10 Best Hardware Stores in Illinois. Ted, you make Northern Illinois proud. Thank you for your hard work.

June is National Dairy Month. Beginning as National Milk Month in 1937, it was originally an effort to stabilize the demand for milk. Today, National Dairy Month is a celebration of the dairy industry’s history as well as a glimpse into its future.

Some may remember the dairy industry’s ad campaign, “Milk, it does a body good.” If only the same thing could be said of some of the decisions made by the Illinois General Assembly for the State of Illinois. The budget was not the only vote made by the General Assembly before it adjourned for the summer.

The Illinois House voted to approve House Resolution 1025. The resolution is an endorsement of amending the Illinois Constitution in order for the legislature to pass a progressive income tax. HR1025’s Chief Sponsor, Speaker Madigan, issued a statement after its passage, saying, “Today’s vote was a promise to taxpayers that as we continue working toward a fair tax in Illinois our focus will be on cutting taxes on the middle class…”

When was the last time Illinois had a permanent tax cut for any of our citizens? The resolution’s supporters want us to believe that raising taxes will stimulate our economy, and help expand small business. As I have written many times, Illinois families pay more in state and local taxes than any other state in the country. Still, our state is running massive budget deficits, dramatically underfunding pensions, and trailing the nation in economic growth by 60%.

Tax hikes yield poorer economic growth than tax cuts. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) compared the economic recovery following the Reagan tax cuts in 1982, and the recovery following the Obama tax increases in 2011. The US economy grew by over 4% annually after the Reagan tax cuts and by an average of 2% after the Obama tax hikes.

What if we need to increase revenue to pay for services? Shouldn’t we sacrifice some economic growth if only for the short term? ALEC also analyzed tax receipts after the Kennedy and Reagan tax cuts and compares them to the Obama administration tax hikes. After the Kennedy cuts, “state and local tax receipts grew by 65 percent..,” after the Reagan cuts, “the real increase was 35 percent...,” and after the Obama increases tax receipts “grew by a meager 6 percent.”

Raising taxes inhibits economic and tax receipt growth, plain and simple. In HR1025, the argument for a progressive tax is because our flat income tax is regressive, specifically benefiting the top 1% of Illinois wage earners. If the resolution’s supporters were truly committed to the top 1% paying their “fair share” in taxes why do Cook County property owners get a tax break? Should paying a “fair share” exclude property taxes?

We know that Illinois’ current economic development model benefits Chicagoland at the expense of rural communities. What is not commonly known is that a house in Stephenson, Jo Daviess, Winnebago, Carroll, Ogle, or Whiteside County pays property taxes on 33.3% of its assessed value. A Cook County resident pays based on 10% of their home’s assessed value, offering a massive tax cut to the millionaires and billionaires who live in Chicago.

What happens when Chicago doesn’t have enough tax money to pay for its schools? It gets money from Springfield. Where does the Springfield money come from? It comes from rural downstate Illinois. If House Democrats wanted the wealthy to pay their “fair share” in taxes they would start by requiring the rich Cook County residents to pay property taxes based on the same assessment ratio as the rest of us in Illinois.

It was Winston Churchill who said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Far too often, after delving deeper than campaign season rhetoric, we find the devil in the details. So what is the true motivation behind HR1025?

Majority Leader Representative Barbara Flynn Currie was one of the Chief Co-Sponsors of HR1025. Her remarks during debate indicate the resolution’s true intent. Decatur’s Herald-Review reported that, “Currie says the idea would equalize income distribution.”

Illinois has suffered enough from tired, failed policies. We do not need Chicago politicians trying to equalize anything. It is time for us to come together, work hard, abandon ideological blinders, and enact common sense solutions to grow our economy and move Illinois forward.

If you have any additional thoughts or ideas, you can reach me or Sally at 815-232-0774, or visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com and use the form to send me an e-mail.

I was privileged this week to welcome to the Capitol the Ambassador of Spain to the United States, His Excellency Pedro Morenes


I was also privileged this week to welcome to the Capitol the Consul General of the Peoples Republic of China, Hong Lei.