6/5/2013 | by David McSweeney
On May 31st, the 98th General Assembly adjourned after a week of high paced legislative action. The state’s financial situation remains dire. There are $7 billion of unpaid bills; the unemployment rate is 9.5%; Illinois’ credit has been downgraded and the pension crisis looms. Yet in spite of all this, the Legislature’s reckless spending habits continue to spiral out of control. Most importantly, the Legislature failed to adopt badly needed pension reform.
I was sworn in on January 6th and immediately focused on fulfilling my campaign pledges. I declined a legislative pension, voluntarily took a 10% pay cut, reduced my office budget by 10% and filed a bill to repeal the 67% income tax increase of 2011. I’m proud of those actions and I believe it set a positive tone for my performance during the entire session. I also plan to continue to lead the fight against the adoption of a graduated income tax in Illinois that would hurt families and kill jobs.
Considering my financial expertise, I was assigned to serve on the House Revenue Committee, a slot not traditionally assigned to freshman members. For weeks, I worked with Representatives on both sides of the aisle on my constitutional amendment to abolish the Lt. Governor’s position, which advanced with overwhelming House support. I have been told that it is a rare feat for a freshman legislator to pass a constitutional amendment. There are now 35 Senate sponsors of my constitutional amendment and it will likely be enacted next spring and if so, will be on the ballot in 2014. Eliminating the Lieutenant Governor’s office will save approximately $2 million per year.
I’ve also filed and supported a series of property tax relief measures. I supported a three year freeze on all property tax levies, freezing property tax levies when housing values decline and a two year freeze on Township property tax levies. I’m pleased to report that my HB 983 passed both the House and Senate and is now on the Governor’s desk to be signed. HB 983 reforms the process for governmental units to issue alternate revenue bonds and makes it easier for taxpayers to stop bad projects that could result in higher property taxes. Specifically, the bill, which I worked closely with Representative Jack Franks and Senator Pam Althoff on, reduces the number of signatures required to force a referendum on the issuance of alternate revenue bonds.
Pension reform was my absolute top priority this session. I serve on the Personnel and Pensions Committee and was a leader in the fight for real pension reform. Our state cannot move forward until we address this crisis that is darkening the economic future of our state and crowding out other essential government services. Nothing substantial was accomplished on pension reform this session, but I remain committed to being part of the solution. We need to stop the madness and immediately adopt pension reform in a special legislative session.
A major push for job creation in Illinois finally began gaining traction in the last days of session. A measure authorizing fracking passed the Illinois House. Fracking is an energy drilling process that uses large amounts of fluid under high pressure to force to the surface oil and gas that is trapped under ground. Fracking could potentially generate a lot of new revenues for Illinois and create thousands of new jobs in various parts of the state. I strongly supported this important bill.
Another positive note is the overwhelming passage of concealed carry legislation on the last day of session. I supported the bill because I believe in the 2nd Amendment rights of all Americans.
To date, I have hosted three town hall meetings in which I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with district residents to hear their concerns and ideas on how to address the state’s most pressing issues. My next Town Hall meeting will be on Saturday, June 29th from 10-11AM at Cary Park District Community Center located at 255 Briargate Road in Cary. I encourage all constituents to attend.
I came into the General Assembly in earnest, ready to fight for my constituents at the Capitol and tackle our toughest issues. On day one, I began pursuing my commitments while demonstrating the courage to act on politically unpopular issues. As the 52nd District State Representative, I thank the residents who have given me the opportunity to serve them and be their voice in Springfield. We will never all agree 100% of the time, but I assure you that I will always listen and tell you where I stand.