The high cost of property taxes has been the number one issue local residents tell me is their top frustration with Illinois government. I was optimistic when I was appointed to serve on the Property Tax Relief Task Force last summer that both parties would come together to look at how we overtax our citizens on their property and move forward with specific solutions that we could implement legislatively this year. Unfortunately, the task force turned out to be just one more example of a blue ribbon commission that failed. Rather than bring forward substantive suggestions to provide relief, the “reforms” the Democratic members of the task force listed in their report focused on expanding the sales tax base to hit local families’ pocketbooks even more, without guaranteeing to reduce our property tax burden. Inaction is not an option while seniors on fixed incomes struggle to afford to stay in their homes and working families see any increase in their wages get eaten up and more by higher property taxes.
We also need to address the culture of corruption that has plagued government at all levels in Illinois. There is a black cloud hanging over Springfield since the federal investigations became public last year. With each drip from the faucet, we learn of more and more unethical and even criminal activities by some public officials. As we continue to learn about these wrongdoings, we can take immediate action to reform the culture that has long allowed this unethical behavior to exist. Last fall, House Republicans introduced a sweeping ethics reform package that directly addresses issues from the federal investigations. These are common sense measures – prohibiting lawmakers for being lobbyists, expanding statements of economic interest for lawmakers to mirror what judges have to submit, and requiring documentation of any communications between elected officials and state agencies. We cannot trust politicians to police themselves and we cannot wait for comprehensive ethics reform any longer. It is time for Democrats to join us in finally getting serious about acting to hold all elected officials accountable. We cannot begin to regain public trust until we do.
Here at home, I am fighting to protect jobs in the energy industry. My district contains the largest energy footprint of any in the state; including Exelon’s LaSalle County Generating Station, Dresden Generating Station in Grundy County, and Braidwood Generating Station in Will County as well as Dynegy’s natural gas generating facility in Kendall County. As the Minority Spokesperson on the Energy & Environment Committee, I play a leading role in advocating for our community when it comes to energy legislation and protecting our natural resources. Not only do jobs in the energy industry stimulate Illinois’ labor income and employment, they also provide huge amounts to the local property tax base, supporting our school districts, higher education and local government. 2020 is poised to be a pivotal year on energy issues, and you can count on me to protect our local jobs.