Brian's Column 03-18-2016

***Guest Column***

The 2016 primary election is one for the record books.  Across the 89th District, individual precincts, city wards, and entire counties reported record early voter turnout and record voter turnout for a primary election.  I’m excited and reinvigorated by the enthusiasm expressed for our local and national elections.  I hope the trend of increased voter participation and involvement in our local elections continues.

I’d also like to express my humble gratitude for receiving 17,396 votes across the 89th District.  By comparison, in the 2014 primary, I garnered 11,834 votes of your trust.  The political guys tell me by increasing your vote totals by 47% percent in 2 years means we’re doing something right. This is a “we,” because you and I talk weekly, and then I take your ideas to Springfield; and frankly, our common sense approach has been resonating down there.  Your ideas are a reflection of the weekly column, and I appreciate the communication; however, this week I want to set the ground for a debate – one to further occur on social media this week - about convictions and compromise.


One aspect of politics that I loathe, and I’d like to expound upon today, is the ubiquitous notion we must agree with our leaders 100 percent of the time.  In the current political climate, everyone has a sand box and the moment we don’t agree on who gets the bucket, we run back to our sandboxes and pout.  What happened to the time when we found out what we disagreed upon, and then started to build consensus for compromise?  Too often, I hear wings of each respective Party condemn their own for compromising.  When people refuse to compromise, I can tell you, Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas, anymore - you’re in Illinois.

Compromise, negotiation, and conviction are as fundamental to democracy as voting.  Once we’ve selected our leaders - remember, these people represent our businesses, our farms, and our voice in government - they are supposed to work on our behalf.  Since you’ve realized there is no yellow-brick road, I don’t have to tell you that the compromise and the work part aren’t being accomplished in Springfield this week or this past month for that matter.  However, Illinois is clinging to this desperate impression that our convictions of yesteryear are fitting for today.

Government doesn’t and shouldn’t always run like a business.  Business by nature is a for-profit venture in our capitalist society, and the government shouldn’t be turning a profit on taxpayers.  However, one aspect where it could take a lesson from business is in the field of innovation.  I guess you can ask the first blimp makers if they thought airplanes were going to rival their transportation, or how Kodak feels about the rise of the digital camera.  Innovate or stagnate.

This is where in Illinois things get asinine.  This past week, Republican Senators called for fully funding the state schools, without proration.  Illinois, around two decades ago, passed legislation that funds public schools largely on property taxes.  The State collects the taxes and disburses the funds back to the schools.  This process occurs every year, but for the at least the last 7 years they’ve pulled a bait-and-switch by “prorating,” which is a legal jargon for cutting or reducing, the funding to each school district.  The process is awful and a reflection of bad policy.  Anyway, the Senate Democrats countered with the notion that we must reform the school funding formula before providing the cash.  In other words, reform before a budget.

The art of compromise and negotiation is politically polarizing because some faction always feels like they have to compromise on their principles.  Depending on the perspective, it’s either bipartisan cooperation or selling out your constituency, and each side comes up with their talking points.  This week in Illinois politics we saw a complete flip-flop.  Last year Republicans called for reforms before a budget.  Each week, the Governor continually reduced the reforms left on the table.  I believe we’re left with nearly a half-dozen from 30+ reform ideas.  This week the Senate Democrats want reform before school funding.  Wowzers!  Illinois politics would be fascinating to watch…if we were in Kansas, Dorothy.

Our problems are bigger than today. They stem from yesterday, and we passed the buck instead.  To solve the issues going forward, I am reminded of a quote by Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”.

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.