The Governor offered up a glimpse into the big government expansion he plans to take during his tenure. These proposals of big taxes, pension holidays, and out of control spending are nothing new in Springfield. These are the same tired old policies that brought us into the fiscal nightmare we find ourselves in today. With the magnitude of the changes he is proposing, I feel like being deliberate is a more intelligent approach. We need to take a step back and truly analyze the implications of these policy changes and how they will affect all areas of the State.
Most of our time this week was spent in committee, and legislation is starting to filter through to the floor for debates and voting. I am guessing we will have some lively debates in the coming weeks. One thing I am learning is that not all items are as controversial as the big-ticket stuff. A lot of the smaller items that no one ever hears about are good, well thought out bills that address certain problems around the State that truly do help people out. Those are the issues that get bipartisan support. Those examples are ones that people back home can feel good about and it is truly the most rewarding part of this job.
In between time here at the Capitol, I was able to hold traveling office hours in Rantoul, where I met a great number of people who stopped in to say hello. Meeting with constituents is the best part of this job. I don’t personally have all the answers to our challenges, but there are great ideas out there from many members of the public. One thing I can do for the district is to be a clearing house for those ideas and use my position to form those great ideas into policy. When the teamwork approach between all of us in the 104th works together, great initiatives can be accomplished.
Another great part of this job is the educational opportunities it offers me. On Monday I was able to tour The Windsor of Savoy and I received a great briefing on assisted and independent living facilities. I have had the opportunity to tour several facilities just like this around the district and it has provided me with a great deal of needed information. With an aging population, finding the resources to adequately address senior issues will only become a more significant part of the decision-making process here in Springfield. The knowledge I’ve gained from these visits is priceless.
I, also, had the opportunity to tour Carle Hospital on Monday. In the process, I have gained a much better appreciation for the medical resources that are available to our area. Health Care accessibility and affordability will be a top priority for our generation on all levels of government, and it is critical that I take advantage of my position to learn from the professionals in this industry.
I took the time to stop by the University of Illinois and visit the Prairie Research Institute. There I was able to meet with a team of scientists that briefed me on the potential risks of the coal ash ponds at the former Vermilion Power Plant. It is important to utilize the nonbiased, scientific opinions of these professionals in order to help formulate an intelligent plan for addressing the coal ash danger to the Middle Fork River. A good part of the rest of my week was spent working on a proposal I hope to have ready in the next week or two on finding a workable solution to the coal ash problem. Stay tuned, there will be more to come.
The USA Today wrote an unfortunate article about Danville, the largest community in the 104th District. Although we have had our challenges and been fighting an uphill battle to redefine ourselves economically, Danville is a great place. Danville and the rest of the 104th District is home to the hardest working, most generous, and best people in the world. The challenges stated in the article does not truly reflect our community or the immense strides we’ve made, which is disappointing. However, if I was to say today that our community and our district is where we want to be, or that the status quo was good enough, I’d be lying. We need to use this article as motivation, to reevaluate what we are doing and how we are doing it. We need to use this as an opportunity to do better, to change the areas that aren’t working or running as efficiently as it could be. Opportunities like regional coalitions with our neighboring Counties, better leveraging for our local governments, and partnerships with our smaller communities in economic development. We definitely need to take a deep look at how we are running services in our area and analyze whether certain institutions in place are still relevant. These will be tough decisions and discussions ahead of us, but this is something we as a community must do. If we have the courage to have those tough discussions, Danville and the rest of the 104th District will have a bright future in front of it. As always, thank you for reading.