The Illinois General Assembly is living up to its reputation. Fourteen weeks after we were set to adjourn on June 1, we don't have a budget. It is clear that we need more than spending changes; we need an entirely new culture of government in Springfield. Because of this budget impasse, the important issues we should be tackling have been pushed to the backburner. The challenges we face, including Illinois' poor reputation and years of financial mismanagement are what led me to get involved and are what continue to motivate me.
No matter party lines, we all agree that we deserve better from our state government. We deserve thoughtful conversation, compromises and common sense. It's too bad that throughout my first seven months in office, I can't recall much progress on any of these fronts. Too often, amidst having $6 billion in unpaid bills, a $111 billion unfunded pension liability and having the worst credit rating in the nation, the agenda in Springfield has been "look busy" instead of "get things done."
Here in Montgomery County, we consistently have one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. While we work to grow, government has failed us. Our businesses are leaving, the coal mining industry is under attack, our education system isn't being funded to best serve our students and our future is being jeopardized. We are a small fish in a big pond, which often makes it easy for us to be overlooked. That is why I support legislation creating leadership term limits. Downstate Illinois needs a chance to set the legislative agenda in Springfield. Also, I am co-sponsoring a bill that will make redistricting fair and return the power to voters.
Since I was sworn into office, I have been fighting for Illinois coal, advocating for the unique interests of downstate Illinois, and working toward a common sense approach to reign in government spending. Through forming advisory boards on topics including agriculture, healthcare, education, veterans and millennials, I have worked with and learned from experts from across the 95th district.
Growing up, I was taught that if you want to see change, it's not enough to complain, you have to be willing to step up to the plate. That is why I decided to run for this position. Recently, I read, "There are two kinds of people in politics, those who want to make a point and those who want to make a difference." I'm here to make a difference, no matter how difficult, and no matter who gets the credit. I'm here so that someday Illinois will rank at the top of lists, our kids will attend the best educational system in the country, and Illinois will be a better place for all of us to live.
Right now it is difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel, but if we get more people in Springfield who are focused on making a difference, it will lead to compromise, meaningful conversations, common sense and a better Illinois for all of us.