Brian's Column 07-30-2015

Budgets, Bill Signing & Youth Activities

I have nothing new to report as we wrapped up the fifth week of the new fiscal year without a balanced budget in place.  Instead of voting on a balanced budget the House Speaker once again issued his talking points for another round of show-trials.  

This is a continuation of the “gotcha politics” at the expense of families who need us to put differences aside and pass a balanced budget.  The right thing is usually the hardest thing to do and this week was full of easy things. 

Speaking of budgets, I wanted to share with you our district office budget information.  Since being elected into office in 2014, I have given money back from the district allotment every fiscal year.  In FY 2014 I returned $21,314.45 to the state and in FY15 I returned a little over $13,000 which represents 19% of our annual office allotment.

I believe legislators and other elected officials should be leading by example if we are asking everyone to share in the sacrifices needed to get our finances in order.  For months now, Democrats in Illinois have known legislators were going to receive a pay raise, and they did nothing until mounting pressure from the taxpayers finally woke them up. 

House Republicans filed legislation (HB 4225) to reject the pay raises two months ago.  The Democrat majority had repeated opportunities to deny the COLA in a timely fashion.  Rather than doing the right thing, they waited until the last minute; a time when many would say it is too late.
Now, no matter what we do, the pay raise will go through for at least the next paycheck, as the Senate won’t be here to act on the House bill until at least next week.  So while it’s better late than never, the Democrat majority should have allowed a vote on HB4225 before it got to this point.

This past week was more than just budgets.  I had a very important piece of legislation signed into law by Governor Rauner that is important to remember.  House Bill 246 designates December 23 of each year as "Scott's Law Day"  to honor public safety workers and to remind motorists to slow down, change lanes away from a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, and proceed with due regard to safety and traffic conditions.

As a former law enforcement officer, I have seen firsthand how dangerous it can be during a traffic stop.  Each year we are reminded of this danger with the names of fallen officers who were killed in-the-line of duty during a traffic stop, assisting a motorist or working an accident scene.
Scott’s Law Day is to remind us and never let us forget the public safety workers whose lives were taken by a motorist passing by.  It’s simple, change lanes away from a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, and then proceed with caution to avoid an unforeseen accident that could occur while driving.

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend with your kids, the Illinois Conservation Foundation will be hosting a free Open House at the Torstenson Youth Conservation Education Center which is a 750 acre youth outdoor education property in Pecatonica to highlight conservation activities this Sunday, August 2nd from 12:00pm to 5:00pm.

The event will have kid-focused hands-on activities for a fun family event.  There will be a live animal show, archery range, crafts, free lunch and more.  Additional organizations that will be on-site include the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and more.  In addition to scheduled events, the ICF is also offering tours of the full property to see the new catch-and-release fishing pond, the beautiful 11,000 square-foot log cabin and archery range.

This event will occur rain or shine, and food will be provided in return for donations to the ICF and Torstenson Center.  The Torstenson Center is located at 13735 Cook Road just east of Pecatonica, IL.  You may visit www.ilcf.org or call (217) 785-2003 for more information.

While we work on finding a bi-partisan solution to fix the budget I would implore each and every one of you to send me an email or contact me on my website with your thoughts.  Thank you to those who already have.

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing,” Theodore Roosevelt.  The right thing to do is to pass a balanced bipartisan budget, but again we did nothing.