Column 4-21-17

This week I’d like to pose a question to you, and if you have an opinion on the matter, then I would love for you to send me your response.  By the way, now would be a good time for me to mention that we have updated our contact information.  You can now send communications directly to my office by visiting “www.ilhousegop.org/contactstewart”.

Without any further ado here’s the question I’ll pose to you this week: which is more important to you?  Taxpayer funded abortions or a balanced budget?  Now don’t think too hard because it really isn’t a trick question.  And yes, it really is a “this or that” question.

Why?  Because instead of continuing to work toward an agreement that could lead toward fiscal certainty and responsibility, House leadership has opted instead to push a bill that reaffirms taxpayer funded abortions.  Though there is absolutely no practical reason to bring HB 40 to a vote, some members on the other side of the aisle are relishing an opportunity to put Governor Rauner in a tough spot.

Thankfully, Governor Rauner has not caved to this shameless political ploy.  He announced that if both chambers pass this sideshow of a bill, he will put an abrupt end to the political theater by vetoing HB 40.  To that I say, “Bravo, Governor Rauner, bravo!” Do you support the Governor’s decision?

I’m not ashamed to say that I am pro-life, and I’m also not ashamed to say that I am anti-political theater.  In fact, I’ll go as far as to say this: how about instead of this nonsensical bill that does nothing to help working families, we work on passage of HB 3096 (the Lincoln Douglas Tax Credit) – a bill that would create jobs for Freeport and other cities across the state.  Or perhaps we could pick up where we left off and continue negotiating on a budget compromise.

But instead of passing a balanced budget, we find ourselves grappling with an issue that came to the forefront simply because House leadership calculated that it would hurt the Governor’s standing with either pro-life advocates or pro-abortion advocates.  Yes indeed, putting the Governor in a political bind is far more important than working to pass a balanced budget.

I’ve said before that the legislature loves nothing more than to play kick the can.  I’m beginning to think that I should amend my previous statement and add another game that has been very popular in Springfield lately – pin the tail on the Governor.  I mean, why focus on the issues that matter when we have a prime opportunity to stick it to the Governor, right?

Well I’m fed up with the games.  We need to immediately resume working on a balanced budget. No more stopgap spending plans that don’t even come close to fully funding social services.  No more finger pointing.  And especially – no more political theater just for the sake of sticking it to the Governor.  From your calls and e-mails I know that the vast majority of you want us to pass a balanced budget, and that’s exactly what I will continue to work toward.

But until such a time as House leadership decides that our state is more important than partisan politics, I’ll continue doing whatever I can to help the district.  That’s why this week I invited Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti to Freeport to meet with our newly elected Mayor. And that’s why last week I spoke with the Governor about the needs of some of our local employers. Budget or no budget, I will fight for the best interests of the 89th District. You have my word on that.

And as for the budget, I remain optimistic that we will eventually set aside our differences and work together on a balanced and long term solution.  Am I foolish for remaining optimistic? Perhaps.  But as Winston Churchill said, “I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.”

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