Representative Jeanne Ives offered the following response to today's State of the State Address:
"Like Governor Rauner, I arrived in Springfield to find serious challenges waiting. The test has been
whether we answer them in a serious way, without trying to buy time, or to sidestep obvious problems that need to be dealt with right away. Putting off problems is certainly not what I had in mind in seeking this office. I think Governor Rauner would say the same of the position he holds. No one ever said this would be easy.
In my district, almost everyone I talk to eventually leans in and confesses their “Exit Strategy” – their plan for moving out of Illinois.
These are people who have built businesses, raised families, paid taxes, invested time and talent in charitable organizations, given back in their communities – and we’re losing them. After 40 years of bad public policy, political corruption and bureaucratic mismanagement, the state has made it too hard for them to stay. To me, this is unacceptable.
Governor Rauner went to Springfield to turn that around. No one ever said that 40 years of bad decisions could be easily undone in 12 months.
Under Illinois’ political class, The State of the State has fallen into disgrace. It is a disgrace that our families and businesses have been put on the hook for the deception and failure of politicians. It is a disgrace that Lutheran Social Services had to cut 43% of their staff and 30 programs serving 4,700 people because the agency has not been paid the $6 million it is owed by the state, and other contractors are part of $8 billion more of unpaid bills. It’s a disgrace that taxpayers shoulder the burden for public sector pensions that those same taxpayers will never see, and that politicians promised but didn’t fully fund.
As we learn of the State of the State, many are – understandably – frightened, and believe the governor should just agree to a budget and leave his Turnaround Agenda items for another day, but that approach doesn’t work.
Illinois just had a four-year case study on it. Illinois Democrats raised income taxes by 67 percent in 2011, and the tax increase was in place for four years. At the end of those four years, Illinois still has many of the same problems it had before the tax increase was passed. At the end of those four years, Illinois still had a huge pile of unpaid bills. We still have the worst-funded pension system in America. Our schools continue to struggle. Our largest city and economic engine, Chicago, and our largest school system, Chicago Public Schools, are in dire financial straits. During the four years of the tax increase, Illinois received several credit-rating downgrades, dropping us to the lowest-rated state in the nation. Again, while the tax increase was in effect, our financial position deteriorated, and the independent rating agencies punished us for it.
Ignoring harsh realities in order to curry political popularity isn’t leadership.
Illinois isn’t easy. But, in this past year, I’ve watched a Governor opt for difficult conversations over slick soundbites; work for real, but politically unpopular, reforms to our enormous problems instead of going for the quick fixes or the easy answers. In the past year, we’ve taken on the biggest problems our state faces – including powerful career politicians and entrenched special interests – and began to implement a long term revolution for Illinois.
This is what it means be a leader. It’s the difference between talking a big game and rolling up your sleeves to do the work nobody else wants to do. The conversation is changing in Springfield. New ideas are being put forth. And old failed ideas are being stopped. Illinois isn’t easy… but it’s worth the fight."