I could not help but feel disheartened by Governor Pritzker after this week. I, along with the majority of my House Republican colleagues, have stood by the Governor’s response and medical expertise refusing to play political games during a global pandemic. I spent the first four weeks answering hundreds of constituent calls, texts, and pleas for help. I listened to the crying single mother of three who can no longer provide for her family, and the couples close to retirement watching their business unravel in front of their eyes. These are my neighbors and real people who are facing real issues.
We waited for the Governor and his agencies to call us back to listen about downstate Illinois issues and figure out how best to handle our situation. We kept calling and emailing his administration, as hundreds of my constituents could not log on to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) to receive the vital federal benefits passed in the CARES Act. We never received a response, so Leader Durkin and I hosted a press conference calling attention to the IDES failures. We thought this would bring forth a discussion to work together finding solutions to help our millions of Illinoisans that do not know how to put food on the table or pay their mortgage and rent payments.
The Governor took our press conference as a threat to his administration and called us complainers that are doing nothing to help. Then he proceeded to play politics advocating for his Unfair Progressive Income Tax proposal shilling like the true billionaire he has always been. This deliberate shameless political plug is the moment I could no longer sit idly by, watching my community unravel in fiscal destruction while only a dozen reported cases, two hospitalizations, and 100% recovery have occurred in Vermilion County.
Governor Pritzker laughed at our push to consider a regional approach to opening up Illinois. His answer to that question during a recent press conference was maddening, and his refusal to acknowledge the economic damage this is inflicting on downstate communities is sad. I have always told my constituents from the moment I decided to run for office that I would fight like hell for us, and listen to everyone regardless of their point of view gain the best knowledge I can as I make decisions in Springfield. After five weeks of quarantine, administration failures, and political shilling by the Democrat majority, I am now calling for all legislators to be called to action to discuss solutions. We must end this crisis as quickly as we can and as safely as we can, but our communities are being destroyed. The Governor must consider a regional approach!
Every day, my office deals with calls from people whose lives have been destroyed by the inability to provide for their families. What do I tell my constituents that are asking me to do something? Do I tell them that the Governor will not listen, that he has only talked to a handful of us in the legislature, or that he has no plan for the legislature to meet? That he has basically sidelined a coequal branch of Government? What do I tell my people? That their Governor has failed them?
The stay-at-home order has been extended through the end of May with only a handful of our Republican considerations being included in the governor’s announcement that some restrictions will be loosened. These include opening curbside access for non-essential businesses, greenhouses and garden centers, golf courses, and state parks.
Unfortunately, the list of state parks that will open is way more condensed than I would like, but I do thank the Governor for at least listening to a few of our proposals.
It is time to come together to figure out how to get our business owners, workers, and citizens back on their feet. This pandemic is a complex issue that will not be solved in a day with a simple solution, but we can learn from all of our struggling citizens to figure out the most practical solutions moving forward. I am eager to start working with my colleagues from across the state in a bi-partisan manner to move Illinois forward!