A Publication of WTVP

Illinois government has faced an unprecedented number of challenges in recent years, primarily as the result of a struggling economy and a reputation for corruption. I want to focus this column on both issues and what I think we can do at the state level to turn the ship around.

It’s no secret that our economy is faltering. Families across our region and across the nation are struggling with record gas prices, expensive utilities and rising food costs. Businesses, too, are struggling.

While the struggling economy is experienced all over this great nation, we can do some things at the state level to make a difference. I have been a strong supporter of increased investment in companies that are located in Illinois. Through a new law, businesses owned by women, the disabled and minorities will have access to up to $100,000 in business assistance from the state.

Illinois is competing for job-creating projects with other states in the union, and also with other nations. We have to make sure our state is an attractive place to do business.

To ensure Illinois has the infrastructure necessary to compete and keep jobs, I support a capital infrastructure improvements program. This would be a tremendous investment in the state’s economy. There has been a lot of talk in Springfield about the plan proposed by the governor. I have been resistant to his legislation because it has faulty revenue sources and fails to spell out specifically where taxpayers’ money will be spent. Let me be clear—these objections are unique to the governor’s current plan. I will continue working with all of the parties involved to support a well-crafted capital plan that makes proper investments in central Illinois’ infrastructure.

To be sure, one thing hampering efforts to pass a capital bill is the level of distrust in Springfield—and there’s good reason for it. The current administration has been riddled with scandals and ineptness and has taken the opportunity to exact political revenge on anyone who has opposed their often ill-fated proposals. With one former governor in jail and several allies of the current governor taking heat from the federal government, it’s way past time for reforms.

We need to re-evaluate the process by which state contracts are awarded. The lists of state contractors and campaign contributors are far too similar. We need meaningful ethics reforms to ensure that our government officials are not bought and sold at the behest of
special interests.

I believe that we can come together in Springfield to overcome the challenges that face us.

I am hopeful that with these reforms, our state government will gain a reputation reflective of the citizens of Illinois—a reputation for hard work, family traditions and community service. iBi