***Guest Column***

In the New Testament of the Bible, there’s a passage in Acts in which Paul describes the new believers in Thessalonica. These converts were good people, and the Bible says they were of “noble character.” But perhaps the highest praise that was said of the Bereans was that they diligently searched the scriptures daily. When the Apostle Paul preached, they verified everything he said by doing their own research.

We live in an age where information is literally at our fingertips. Give me thirty seconds, and I could tell you the capitol of any country in the world; give me a minute and I can translate any phrase from any language into English. That’s how far technology has advanced. In a world where there is more information available to us than at any time in the earth’s history, are we making good use of this gift?

Chuck Sweeney recently had a great column entitled: “Kids Aren’t Looking up Dictionary Words on Smartphones.” Mr. Sweeney laments the news that a Rockford charity will no longer be giving away free dictionaries to third graders in the Rockford school system. This ends a twenty year period of giving thousands and thousands of young kids a free resource which they may not have otherwise had. He goes on to say that this was brought about because most school-aged kids now have access to the internet, and therefore hard copy dictionaries are no longer deemed a necessity.
***Guest Column***

A February article of Crain’s Chicago Business stated that Illinois ranked 46th out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. in non-farm payroll growth. Our ranking is falling among other states in median household income growth, and the state actually had a net loss of jobs in 2015.

Anyone who has lived in Northwest Illinois for more than a few years isn’t surprised by any of these numbers. We have observed the ebb and flow of our local economy, and many of us have experienced firsthand the pain of watching industry leave the area. To blame this on any single factor would be unfair and incorrect, but there is no question that the State of Illinois has done little to positively impact our region’s plight.

Most of you know that this isn’t simply just anecdotal evidence; this is our region’s history. But you didn’t elect me to reminisce on what was and what could have been. You want to know what I am doing to help turn around our region. As I often say, one of the reasons I ran for office was to bring a small business perspective to the state legislature. To that end, I have been working to eliminate burdensome regulations that negatively impact our region by hurting our small businesses. So I am encouraged to bring you some good news from Springfield out of the Governor’s office.
***Guest Column***

Can we just forget about politics for one second and revel in the fact that the Cubs are in the National League Championship Series. If the Cubs make it to the World Series it will be the first time since Mike Madigan became Speaker of the House. Ok, that’s the last time I’ll use that joke for a while. But the point is that it has been a long time coming! Here’s to singing “Go Cubs Go” and flying the “W.”

Shifting gears now to what to write about this week – politics. Many of you have seen me out and about in the community. I keep my schedule jam-packed with as many public events, activities and dinners as my calendar can manage. I was at one such event Thursday night with the wonderful ladies at the Freeport Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association.

We had a great time – and some great pot roast. We talked about local issues and also many of the issues currently being discussed in Illinois. Some of the highlights were “Automatic Voter Registration,” term limits, and redistricting reform. As we were talking about redistricting reform, I had a thought occur to me that I felt I should share with all of you this week.
***Guest Column***

If you’ve read my column or watched the news over the course of the past several months, you know that Illinois is in dire financial straits. There are too many contributing factors to count, but I try to tackle them one at a time. Last week I made brief reference to one such area that I hope to shed more light on this week. I welcome your comments and feedback, and if you would like any source or reference material, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

There is little doubt that Illinois is heading towards a fiscal cliff. When you couple unsustainable state spending with an unstable tax base, the results are never good. On top of these mounting issues, we have even more bad news: Chicago is fiscally insolvent. Why does this matter to us in Northwest Illinois? Well, if the stopgap budget is any indication, our tax dollars will be paying for a municipality’s empty promises. No, state tax dollars will not be going to bail out Freeport or Rockford, they are going to Chicago.