As students return to schools throughout Illinois, I am reminded that education funding being approved despite the lack of a state budget is a direct result of the legislature’s compromise on issues important to all Illinoisans. Even though our fiscal situation is dire, higher education funds are being paid to state universities and community colleges due to bipartisan compromise- and that’s a good thing. Road construction projects throughout Illinois are moving forward due to bipartisan compromise- and that’s a good thing. Funding for State Prison operations and gasoline for State Troopers to patrol our roadways is being released due to bipartisan compromise- and that’s a good thing. Landmark Criminal Justice Reforms are being enacted due to bipartisan compromise- and that’s a good thing.
Bipartisan compromise has yielded many concessions from the minority party to assist basic operations of government in continuing through this budget impasse- and that’s a great thing. However, there are areas where there has been no such compromise; no such give-and-take. Despite a clear history of being engaged and willing to compromise on issues related to education funding, social service funding, basic state operations, and other parts of the state budget, the Majority Party in Springfield led by Speaker Mike Madigan has not been willing to compromise on reforms to make our state more competitive. Residents of Illinois may want to ask themselves why that is.
There has been no willingness to compromise on Workers Compensation Reform by the Speaker. There has been no willingness to compromise on reducing costs and unfunded mandates by the Speaker. There has been no willingness to compromise to allow local efforts to consolidate local governments by the Speaker. The Speaker has been unwilling to compromise on reforms to improve the climate for job creators in Illinois.
If services to school children, state operations funding, and criminal justice reform are all areas on which Democrats in Illinois are willing to work with Republicans, why not on the cost of doing business in our state? Why not on reforming workers compensation to keep more employers hiring employees in Illinois and not in our surrounding states? Why not on allowing local voters to elect to consolidate their local governments in a way they see fit?
Compromise can be a wonderful thing, but it takes two parties with a sincere desire to move our State forward to create compromise. It continues to be my hope that the Illinois legislature can build on our bipartisan compromises over the past months to drive compromise to improve the climate for jobs in Illinois. That would be a compromise that would create a real future for those students returning to schools throughout Illinois this Fall. I stand ready to support that brand of compromise.
State Representative Tom Demmer