Take Part in Democracy, Budget Update

***Guest Column***

On Tuesday, April 4th, voters across the 89th District go to the polls to cast their vote in the Municipal General Election. Historically, turnout for local elections has been as low as the single digits, and never has it reached as high a turnout as November elections. This sad reality has always baffled me because I think local elections are more impactful on our daily lives than national elections are.

Of course, national elections for congress and the presidency impact our income taxes, but local elections determine the direction of our community. Beyond our own current status, it’s not a stretch to say that our vote could in some small (or perhaps large) way play a role in our children’s and grandchildren’s future. And I don’t care who you vote for, I just hope that you exercise the most sacred freedom that we have in the United States.

Whenever I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak directly to young people, I consistently make an effort to highlight the importance of voting. Someone told me the other day that he takes his son and daughter with him into the voting booth so that they understand from a young age that voting is important. I thought that was a wonderful idea!

So here is my challenge to you this week: let’s be a good example for younger generations by exercising our right to vote. And when you vote, make sure you tell your kids and your grandkids that you voted. Let’s take this opportunity to teach the next generation an important civics lesson.

This past week I was in Springfield for a week of committee hearings. One of the more notable happenings is that House Democrats released their “Comeback Agenda” this week. This is obviously in response to the “Turnaround Agenda,” the plan released by Republicans in June of 2015. Though I find many of the points in the Democrat’s “Comeback Agenda” to be lacking, I am heartened to see that my friends on the other side of the aisle are actually putting forward a plan.

If you’ve been reading my column, then you know that I have been calling for a bipartisan approach to addressing our state’s fiscal woes. I remain optimistic that Democrats and Republicans can come together and find a compromise that will result in a balanced budget that puts our state back on track.

Though much of the Democrat’s “Comeback Agenda” is antithetical to nearly everything I believe will spur growth, we can safely say that we have passed an extremely important threshold: both sides have now produced definable proposals. It is my hope that we start working together on a compromise that is good for Illinois and ends the budget crisis.

We all know that we cannot continue down this same path. Failed policies have left us with one of the highest overall tax burdens in the country, and good people are leaving Illinois in droves. The good news is that Democrats and Republicans have both presented their plans. Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work on finding common ground. I believe it can be done!

Lastly, I’d like to take a moment to mention House Bill 769 which designates Illinois State Trooper Day. April 1st is the day we remember the Illinois Troopers who lost their lives and recognize the ones who risk their lives every day protecting us. From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank Illinois State Troopers for all that they do.

I’ll end this week’s column by quoting the Illinois State Trooper Oath of an Officer: "I solemnly vow to the people of Illinois, upon my honor as an officer and citizen, to discharge the duties of an officer of the Illinois State Police to the best of my ability, to adhere to the rules and regulations of the Illinois State Police, and to adopt the Agency's mission and goals into my everyday life. I pledge to be honest in thought, word, and deed; to maintain unimpeachable integrity; to be just, fair, and impartial; to be steadfast against evil and its temptations; and to give my utmost to protect the rights, property, and lives of our citizens. I shall strive to give thoughtful, intelligent obedience to the commands of my superiors, to make my conduct friendly but impartial, courteous but firm, and charitable to the inadvertent violator. But I shall never compromise with crime and shall, at all times, uphold the Constitutions and laws of my country and the state of Illinois."

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.

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