Brian's Column 4-15-2016


***Guest Column***


Well, it was an interesting week in Springfield. We worked on several important issues. The Democrats pushed through a $3.9 Billion spending plan (Senate Bill 2046) which was essentially the same one they proposed before, except with a slightly larger price tag. Just like before, this one has no funding mechanism, no way to pay for it. What it amounts to is a false promise to Illinois families and only adds to the stack of unpaid bills on the Comptroller’s desk. I’ll tell you about our Comptroller, Leslie Munger.

Comptroller Munger, the state’s chief financial officer and the one responsible for cutting the checks to pay state bills, likens this situation to a family budget. According to Comptroller Munger, it’s like a family sitting down at the kitchen table with $100 and trying to pay down a $7,000 stack of bills. A family can’t afford to spend or budget this way. The State shouldn’t either. The Democrats $3.9 Billion spending bill that was passed this week just adds to the mountain of unpaid bills. It is an IOU with no way to ever pay it back; an empty promise to the people of Illinois.

Let’s take some time to talk about real solutions. Republicans have a proposal that funds Illinois colleges and universities with an actual funding source. It would give Governor Rauner the ability to reallocate existing funds to meet our commitments to Higher Education. Democrats gave Governor Quinn this same flexibility during a budget crunch a few years ago, but are unwilling to do so now. It’s yet another example of politics at its worst. 

Last week, we introduced a bill to fund essential human services. The proposal uses savings achieved from common sense pension reforms to fund vital programs that serve children and families in need, seniors on fixed incomes and the disabled, among others. The reforms we’re talking about are completely constitutional and could net an immediate, significant amount of savings.

What we need to recognize is that real people and families rely on the state services that depend upon us having a budget. An IOU is not the answer. Actions like the $3.9 Billion IOU the Democrats passed this week only gives desperate people false hope. We need a real solution to pay the state’s commitments.

Another issue we talked about this week was school funding. This is a huge issue across the state. If we look back at the past ten years, past governors have fudged the formula and schools only received a portion of the funds that the State of Illinois had promised them. Experts say that if we fully funded our schools, the schools would receive an additional $120 million. I believe we should give 100% of the money that the state promised for K-12 education. That’s more money for every school district across the state, including our own here in northern Illinois.

Looking ahead, next week is going to be another interesting one in Springfield. I am hopeful that meaningful progress can be made toward a budget agreement. On my side of the aisle, we have been trying to reach a compromise for the past ten months. My colleagues and I have tried each and every day to bring about a resolution to this impasse and I will keep working to achieve a reasonable and responsible budget.

If we work together and in the spirit of bipartisanship, we can get rid of the waste and abuse and provide services to the children and families who rely on them. Illinois can once again be a place everyone can be proud of and afford to live, work, and raise a family.

I would like to end this week on a note of recognition and remembrance of a long time friend that passed earlier this week and who was laid to rest on Friday, Michael “Mike” “Ponch” Pontius. Mike was a Freeport Firefighter who while in the line of duty was exposed to a toxic substance while fighting a house fire that eventually took his life. My thoughts and prayers to go out to his wife Dawn; his sons Josh, Jerek and Jordan; his daughter Kirsten and the entire Pontius Family. Mike comes from a family of Firefighters and every Firefighter’s service to our communities reminds me of the Fireman’s Prayer, “When I am called to duty, God whenever flames may rage, give me the strength to save some life whatever be its age. Help me to embrace a little child before it’s too late, or some older person from the horror of that fate. Enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout, and quickly and efficiently put the fire out. I want to fill my calling and give the best in me, to guard my neighbor and protect his property. And if according to your will I have to lose my life, please bless with your protecting hand my children and my wife.”


As always, you can reach me 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.