The Illinois General Assembly has been widely criticized as being a “Do-Nothing” legislature. It’s a popular narrative. Spring Legislative Session ended last week, and the State of Illinois is no closer to pulling out of the decline into which politicians have sent us. Many in the media and more moderate “can’t we all just get along” politicos will blame both sides. It’s a nice thought – and a great way to avoid offending readers of either political persuasion. Too bad it misses the mark.
For 502 days, the politicians in Springfield have put their interests ahead of the needs of our families and businesses. Last week, they left Springfield without passing a balanced budget. For this, the Illinois General Assembly will be criticized as being a “Do-Nothing” legislature, but it’s not the real story.
In reality, we have seen dramatic efforts out of Springfield this session. It’s just that those efforts have focused on protecting political power, instead of on addressing the needs of Illinoisans.
Why? Because Democrats, led by House Speaker Madigan, are protecting a political machine that was carefully constructed by ruling class politicos and the special interests who compete for control of taxpayer money. The machine operates mainly by handing out favors and financing the lifestyles of the friends and insiders who keep them in their positions of power. Democrats are more beholden to public sector unions and trial lawyers than we can imagine.
For that reason, Democrats have gone to war on all fronts – legislative, political, in the media – to ensure the survival of the institutions and means of government that they have spent the past 35 years establishing and protecting.
Instead of figuring out a way to pass a responsible balanced budget, they put their effort into protecting their power:
Lou Lang’s Progressive Income Tax – An 81-year old idea that has hurt middle-class families in every other state that has implemented it. Democrats continuously propose the Progressive Tax for two simple reasons: to engage in class warfare, and to redistribute income from private citizens to the public sector unions.
The AFSCME Bill – A bill that would have allowed AFSCME, the state’s most powerful public sector union, to negotiate their own contracts. The bill had been defeated in 2015, but was re-proposed in 2016. Just because the will of the people was against this idea didn’t mean AFSCME stopped wanting it.
Madigan’s Budget – At a time when families are being priced out of their homes and businesses are fleeing the state, House Democrats passed a budget that would have required a 47% tax increase on families and businesses. The first to see the benefit of that tax increase will not be you or your families. It will be the entrenched special interests that have kept Mike Madigan in power for over 35 years.
It doesn’t matter to Mike Madigan that families are being taxed out of their homes, or that Illinois has the highest unemployment rate in the nation. Under his direction, his super-veto-proof-majority spent five months ignoring these problems, passing wildly unbalanced budgets and refusing to address the need for reform. Every one of us is suffering for it.
Let’s be clear: There is no argument over the need for a responsible budget that will strengthen our economy versus an impasse that shuts down social service agencies. But there is only one way to guarantee that those agencies have the resources they need for decades to come; that families can thrive; that business and opportunity can grow in Illinois. And it is not surrendering to the will of Speaker Madigan. Appeasing the Speaker and his caucus may give us a budget, but it leaves us no choice between solvency and bankruptcy. If we continue to retreat from their class warfare and capitulate to their extreme policies, what will they ask next?
Illinoisans are hurting. The state needs large-scale reform. We need a system of government that is open, transparent and obligated only to the people of the State of Illinois.
Now is not the time to play political games. Now is the time for us to summon the courage to let Mike Madigan and House Democrats know that there is a line over which they will not drag us. Now is the time to replace these kept politicians with independent thinkers who will work for families and businesses, instead of union bosses and trial lawyers.
We invite you to join us in the effort to realize our vision of a state in which freedom, opportunity and prosperity can flourish.
The Author: Matt Besler
Matthew Besler is a strategic communications professional. As President of the Illinois Opportunity Project, he leads comprehensive online and offline word of mouth issue advocacy programs that promote legislative solutions in advance of free market principles. With over 17 years of corporate communication experience, Matt specializes in leading strategic communication plans and crisis engagement strategies that promote and protect organizations and their brands. Read Matt’s most recent commentary.