“The greatest tyrannies are always perpetuated in the name of the noblest causes.” – Thomas Paine
April 8th marks the 30-day mark since Governor JB Pritzker invoked his emergency powers to essentially shut down the Illinois economy.
Since that time, the Governor has shown a complete lack of willingness to work with members of the Illinois Legislature to get answers to even basic questions. From what I have heard this lack of communication extends to both Democrats and Republicans. The last time I checked, the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch are both co-equal branches of our government.
The Constitution gives the Executive Branch extraordinary powers in emergency situations, but these powers are limited to 30 days and just because the Governor has these powers – it does not mean members of the Legislature can be kept in the dark.
We may be facing an unprecedented emergency crisis, but we still have a Constitution and we still have basic rights as citizens. A noble cause is no excuse to turn Illinois into a banana republic. It is an affront to the people of Illinois that our Governor is claiming unlimited powers while refusing to provide a plan for when and how that power will be relinquished. We did not elect a dictator. We elected a Governor. It is time for JB Pritzker to stop acting like a monarch and take his governing more seriously.
He is unilaterally making decisions without any input or consideration from other elected officials. The Mayor of Chicago appears to be the only other elected official in Illinois with any input at all. There is more to Illinois than just Chicago and he needs to be listening to the locally elected officials throughout the state.
The Governor’s decisions are impacting the entire state. Because of the Governor’s policies, Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospital in Mattoon is making short-term staff reductions. The Hospital is not being allowed to handle elective medical procedures in preparation for an influx of coronavirus patients that simply has not happened in our area.
I have asked repeatedly about developing a plan to reopen parts of downstate Illinois. Of course, this has to be done judiciously and of course it must be done with what we know about is happening on the ground. Obviously, we all want to save lives but as we near the April 30th benchmark, can we at least have a conversation about opening up parts of our state that are not as affected by the virus and developing a plan to do so?
These requests are met with silence from the Governor’s office. The reality is that we cannot stay home indefinitely, and we must look to the future. The longer this goes on, the harder it is going to be for businesses to come back from this crisis. We need to look at ways we can help bring Illinois businesses back.
There are a series of serious structural reforms that should have been in place before this crisis that would have given both state government and Illinois citizens much more resources and flexibility to weather this emergency. A recent report from WalletHub ranked Illinois the 10th most vulnerable state in the nation to a coronavirus-driven economic hit.
The high tax burden in Illinois along with the steady stream of people leaving has already been taking a toll on Illinois businesses even before the coronavirus crisis. It is imperative that we take steps to help – not hinder – the economic recovery.
I recently sent a letter to the Governor asking him to support efforts to (1) Freeze Unemployment insurance rates for 12 months and provide assurance that rates don’t reflect claims due to coronavirus shutdowns and layoffs; (2) Freeze the minimum wage for the next 18 months; (3) Return the light trailer license fee back to $18 from $118; (4) Provide a sales tax holiday for the entire duration of any work restriction or stay at home order; and (5) Prorate abatement of property taxes across the board equal to number of days of work restriction or stay at home order.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They are the primary employer for the majority of our citizens. Giving them the confidence that our government is committed to removing barriers for them through these unprecedented times will help all the people of Illinois. As we come through this crisis – which we know we will – it is imperative that we ease the burdens on job creators and take every possible step to make it easier for our small businesses to put Illinois citizens back to work.
Let’s kick start our comeback by enacting these commonsense policies immediately.
State Rep. Chris Miller (R-Robinson) represents Illinois' 110th House District.