Brian's Column 03-06-2015

Session has been a whirlwind so far; from the Governor’s State of the State Address to the Budget Address to the deadline for new House bills a week ago, my colleagues and I are working hard to keep up.  Many of us are thinking that, based on the recent political environment in Springfield, this year’s session will be extended into the summer months.  The FY16 budget is the driving force behind many issues facing us, and budget negotiations have begun and will continue as we get closer to the May 31st deadline.

Amidst all the busyness, I was honored to host Governor Bruce Rauner in Freeport this past Thursday.  The Governor came to inform local officials and business leaders about how his Turnaround Agenda will empower voters and give them more local control.  He said that many of the changes we need to make to resolve our economic and financial issues will be difficult changes, but they are necessary to put us back on sound footing.  The Governor also stated during his visit that surrounding states have learned how to become financially viable and to live within their means during challenging economic times.  His goal, he says, is to help Illinois do the same.  I realize that there will be some who don’t agree, but it is now or never for Illinois, and if we work together and make the tough and sometimes unpopular decisions, we can make Illinois the greatest state in the country again. 

It’s been my privilege to work with talented colleagues in the General Assembly to introduce new legislation.  One of the bills that I introduced is House Bill 3889 which seeks to amend the Economic Development for a Growing Economy Tax Credit Act.  The bill removes provisions concerning conditions that must be met before an incentive is given to a business to remain or locate in Illinois. Before Illinois gives incentives to businesses to remain or locate in Illinois, they must first get a competitive proposal from another state.  These businesses then take their proposal from Illinois to another state to see what incentives they would give them to locate there.  It’s probably no surprise to anyone that our surrounding states easily beat our proposal, leading to numerous businesses in Illinois moving to Iowa, Wisconsin, and other states surrounding Illinois.  JoDaviess County alone has lost at least four companies in the past two years due to this clause in the act. I will continue to provide you more information on legislation I have sponsored in future columns.

I believe our State has a great future ahead of it, but that future pivots on what we do this year to set the precedent.  We face serious challenges that will test every legislator’s ability to find some common ground.  At this time in our State’s history, political ties are meaningless and the titles Democrat and Republicans should be disregarded.  We are, instead, first and foremost citizens of Illinois.  Of partisan politics, John F. Kennedy said “let us not be petty when our cause is so great.  Let us not quarrel amongst ourselves when our [State’s] future is at stake.  Let us stand together with renewed confidence in our cause—united in our heritage of the past and our hopes for the future.”  President Kennedy was obviously speaking on the national level, but I believe his statement can be applied on the level of our State.  Let go of petty issues in favor of a greater cause—that’s my goal in this pivotal time in our State’s history.

Can you add to the conversation? Join me on Facebook and Twitter to let me know your thoughts on the challenges our State faces and how we can combat them.

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