Brian's Column 11-13-2015

Suddenly reasonable is not enough 

For months, opposition to change here in Springfield has called for “reasonable” discussions and compromise surrounding the budgetary process.  It’s clear by the actions taken during session this past week, with a compromise very much on the table, that majority Democrats in the House have absolutely no intention of compromising.

I have maintained throughout the entire budget impasse that compromise is essential to changing the direction our state is on.  This week the Rauner Administration compromised on several issues.

The first, Governor Rauner acted in good faith to restore eligibility for the overwhelming majority of families receiving child care assistance.  Compromised language supported by the Governor brings CCAP eligibility up to 162 percent of the federal poverty level.  This is a reasonable compromise that protects child care for hard working families, while at the same time holding the line on spending.

Secondly, Governor Rauner announced that the Determination of Need (DON) Score used to determine eligibility for long-term care will be not increasing.  Instead, the State will use the existing DON Score of 29 to ensure the elderly and most vulnerable citizens receive appropriate care.

Lastly, with the State now in the fifth month of Fiscal Year 2016 without an approved budget in place, many important appropriations have been left in limbo.  HB 4305 would provide the appropriation authority necessary to distribute motor fuel tax receipts to local governments. These funds are vitally important to municipalities and townships for local road projects and public safety.  The Governor urged passage of legislation to appropriate MFT, 9-1-1 services, police training and additional public safety funds, which the House passed with bipartisan support, 115-1-1, while in session on Tuesday.

While there are plenty of Representatives on the other side of the aisle that believe compromise and bipartisanship must be upheld in order to solve the fiscal woes of Illinois, they showed their true agenda this past week, politics.  The compromise was accomplished without the need of legislation, which is how things should be done, but for political reasons was still called for a vote.

It was honor an to deliver the keynote address for the Veterans Day Celebration at Blackhawk School.  I’d like to especially thank Sheriff Snyders, the Air-One Coalition Crew Nick Miller, Bob Eldridge and Jim Norton as they provided me a safe flight to the event via helicopter after a brief fly-around of Freeport.  Upon arrival the students burst out chanting “USA” and the tribute to the veterans was underway.  The 333rd Military Police Company was also on site to allow students to look at their Humvees and view the helicopter flight and landing.

The program was organized by Jeff Lehman, Principal Stacey Kleindl, and Committee Chair Peggy Tell.  All were absolutely outstanding.  I want to congratulate the faculty, parents and students of the school as well.  Most importantly, a special "Thanks" for their service to all the veterans who attended.  It was a very special tribute and honor to all veterans!

Remembering the sacrifices that the men and women of this country have endured to protect our freedoms is vital in understanding the very freedoms we possess.  Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, USMC, said it best by stating "It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.  It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.  It is the soldier, not the organizer, who gave us the freedom to demonstrate.  It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag.  And whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag."

As always, you can reach me or Sally at 815/232-0774 or email us at repstewart@gmail.com. You can also visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.