We have to try something different

In the past two months, the General Assembly has voted to spend nearly two billion dollars. And no, these are not appropriations that go to pay down the deficit.  These aren’t even funds that take the place of the budget.  This is money that will be added to our already $5 billion spending gap.

This preposterous level of financial ineptitude is akin to a couple who can’t make their mortgage payments.  But instead of tightening their belts and reining in spending, the couple decides that they owe it to themselves to take a luxurious trip to Hawaii.  That’s essentially how ridiculous our Legislature’s actions have been. 

Simultaneously, the House has passed a series of anti-business deals that are sure to do more damage to the state’s already fragile economy.  And then that brings us to Senate Bill 1657 – about which I have received hundreds of calls and e-mails.  Overwhelmingly, most of you who have called are in opposition to the bill – and for good reason.  I am strongly opposed to the bill.  But instead of trying to state my case as to why I oppose the bill, I’ll let gun store owner Dan P. Eldridge explain.  “Chicago is experiencing an unacceptable level of violence.  However, misguided proponents of Illinois Senate Bill 1657, the Gun Dealer Licensing Act, attempt to blame law-abiding gun and gun store owners for the violence instead of holding criminals accountable.  The bill won't do a thing to stop this violence.  What it will do is drive small business owners into bankruptcy due to mountains of red tape and fees.”

And there it is – the real reason for this bill’s very existence.  If we can’t outright ban the legal sale of firearms, the next best thing we can do is to tax it and regulate it.  Remember the Ronald Reagan quote?  “If it moves, tax it.  If it keeps moving, regulate it.”  In the end, this is just another counterproductive bill that intends to shut down small businesses.

It is fair to say that the General Assembly has done a fine job at hindering economic growth and chasing away residents.  Need some proof?  Well for starters, the state lost over 100,000 residents to other states in 2016.  That’s right, the job-crushing regulations and anti-business tax climate had an extremely deleterious effect last year.

But there’s always a silver lining.  When some businesses wither, others thrive.  I remember watching the nightly news in 2009 and seeing a report on a small business owner who was having the time of his life.  He had more business than he could possibly handle, and he was working long hours to meet his commitments.  How is that possible?  He was a repo man. 
So many people had defaulted on their loans that he was contracted to repossess vehicles.

And in the unforced error financial crisis we are currently experiencing in Illinois, there is at least one business that is thriving – U-Haul.  Illinois Policy reported that a one-way trip from Chicago to Dallas was $1,650 for a 20 foot truck.  Conversely, a trip from Dallas to Chicago for the same 20 foot truck on the same date cost $460 – nearly a quarter the cost.  Sadly, people are fleeing Illinois so quickly that U-Haul is having a hard time keeping up with the demand.  Our anti-business policies have officially come full circle.

This is why I fight so hard against the job killing bills that chase people out of our state.  This is why I oppose spending money that we don’t have.  This is why I will continue to demand that our state pass a balanced budget.  And this is why I am so passionate about our fiscal crisis.

We cannot afford to continue trying the same failed policies and expect some kind of different result.  We have to try something different.  And I believe that something is a balanced budget that doesn’t rob from future generations.

I’ll end by quoting Michael Lucci of the Illinois Policy Institute.  He issued a warning that all Illinois politicians would do well to remember:  “(You) should remember that we are all volunteers living here, and many Illinoisans have options to live in other cities and states.”

As always, you can reach me or Sally at 815-232-0774, or visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com and use the contact form to send me an e-mail.

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