Brian's Column 03-13-2015

Welcome to spring everyone! While spring is not officially here, the warmer temperatures will definitely make my frequent trips to Springfield more enjoyable.  Here’s a snapshot of the past week:

Train Derailment
Last Thursday, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train derailed south of Galena.  The derailment could have been tragic; however, the remote location and the quick and efficient response of local emergency units mitigated any immediate danger to local residents.  The federal, state, and local responders are true heroes.  Thank you to all of you who joined forces to respond and limit damage.

Death Penalty
A colleague of mine in the House and a local state representative, John Cabello, filed HB 4059 to reinstate the death penalty.  The bill would amend the Criminal Code and eliminate the provision that abolished the death penalty.  The death penalty would not be widely applied to convicted criminals under this bill but only to individuals who take the life of a police officer or first responder, a child, or multiple victims.  In Cabello’s words, it’s intended for the “worst of the worst.”  I joined Representative Cabello in sponsoring the bill because I believe actions have consequences.  A person who chooses to violently take the life of a police officer, a child, or multiple victims also chooses to suffer the consequences for his crimes.

                                                                                    Turnaround Agenda
Much of this session will revolve around Governor Rauner’s turnaround agenda.  And, according to the Wall Street Journal, this year, Illinois is “the state drama to watch.” The Governor faces strong opposition, but if he can break through, we’ll start to see some changes.


Economic Growth and Jobs Package
One change I hope to see in the near future is economic growth in our region.  We have lost too many jobs to nearby states simply because our State is not competitive.  To help our State stand out from other states, the Governor has put together an Economic Growth and Jobs Package that includes a minimum wage increase over the next several years, fair unemployment insurance for both employers and employees, competitive bidding on public projects, and local employee empowerment zones.  Those programs along with others in the Economic Growth and Jobs Package will produce an economic environment where businesses will thrive, providing secure jobs and wages for the people of our great State.

Student and Career Success Package
The Governor also has plans to turn our schools into flourishing institutions that prepare our students for successful lives after school.  He plans to increase funding, increase parent participation in the classroom, allow more charter schools, reform tenure so high performing teachers are rewarded for their hard work, and improve teacher recruitment to ensure a diverse base of educators for our schools.  We have some of the best kids in the nation right here in Illinois, and it is our duty to make sure they have the tools they need to prosper both in their education and in their future careers.

Tax Empowerment and Government Reform Package
Essential to our State’s growth is government reform.  Government sprawl, special interests, and high taxes have all added to our economic stagnation.  Governor Rauner plans to reform State government through a government consolidation taskforce spearheaded by the Lieutenant Governor.  He also plans to reform the State’s pension system by passing a constitutional amendment and to empower both government employees and local voters to make decisions about our State.  At this time in our State the Governor’s plans are crucial to our success.

Conclusion
While the Governor’s plans may be politically unpopular to some in our capital, all of us need to remember that government cannot fulfill everyone’s wishes.  In the words of Former President Gerald Ford, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”

As always, you can reach myself or Sally at 815/232-0774 or e-mail us at repstewart@gmail.com.  You can also visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com or on Facebook.

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