We inaugurated Donald John Trump as our 45th president. And many of us protested having done so. We rose up and spoke out about our fears and the dreams we hold dear. Illinoisans were part of both events in significant numbers both in Washington, D.C., and in Illinois.
Congratulations to all who were so moved by their beliefs and passions that they literally went beyond words and moved to take action to express themselves. Truly, that was some show of a free democratic republic in action.
Now keep it going. Now, how about acting up and out about your own home, your own state? It’s in crisis.
This week, Gov. Bruce Rauner will give his State of the State address. And, in a rare and desperately needed attempt at compromise, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton and Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno will try to lead debate and maneuver a massive package of more than a dozen bills tied to one another that is meant to end a nearly two-year-old stalemate and budget impasse between themselves, Rauner and Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.
If you pay attention to the national political stage, I’m going to take a leap and assume you’ve heard about this disaster in Illinois.
But to summarize, according to independent budget experts Richard Dye and David Merriman at the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs:
- Illinois will have a $13 billion budget deficit by the end of the fiscal year in June.
- It will have $14 billion deficits for the next five years before jumping dramatically to $23 billion by 2027
- It has $10 billion in overdue bills and $174 billion in pension and health care debt for public workers.
Trump supporters, if you find liberals like Hillary Clinton alarming, then you should be concerned about the Democratic majorities in Springfield. Clinton fans, if you find Trump scary and narcissistic, then you’ll likely find some similarities in Rauner. Those hard-to-fathom figures ought to scare the bejesus out of us all no matter what our political leanings.
And the fact that neither Democrats nor Republicans acted to begin to address any of that for the two years Rauner has been in office is immoral.
Can you imagine what would happen if there were a march like Saturday on the Capitol in Springfield? I’d bet some bills would be passed and signed into law within days.
This could be the thing that bridges the gap between the left and the right within Illinois, don’t you see?
Neither Rauner nor Madigan have been caught denigrating women or minorities or immigrants, but their power-driven, narcissistic standoff is doing more damage to Illinoisans than Trump or Clinton ever will.
While they play political chicken, we spend more than we take in. Businesses close and more people leave Illinois than any other state. Vulnerable disabled children, adults and elderly in Illinois are damaged. They wither without state funding for the social safety net that’s been ripped apart. College students — Illinois’ future workers and homebuyers — don’t see lives for themselves here. Enrollments are plummeting and entire college communities are on the verge of collapse.
This is a pivotal week in Springfield. Since the new year, there’s been no authority to spend beyond what’s covered by court orders. Cullerton and Radogno are proposing tax increases, a property tax freeze, a pension tradeoff and six more casinos, just to hit a few highlights.
So many of you reading this reveled in the election of a man you see as a non-politician, or you were repulsed and revolted.
While you walked and cheered or yelled for your rights, people all over Illinois were being hurt. You were being hurt. As you’ve been reading this, your bills just went up.
Can that motivate you? Can you keep rising up for your rights? Can that bring Illinoisans together?
You can start by sending one email to all of Springfield’s top politicians from the Sound Off tool under the Action tab at Rebootillinois.com, or you can find contact information for them on the Illinois General Assembly website.
Trump supporters, one thing the new president himself tweeted this weekend was: “Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don’t always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views.”
Clinton supporters, remember what former President Obama told you in his farewell address from McCormick Place, “If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere.”
Express your views within Illinois. Dive in. Here, at home. Act local. Power up, people. We need all that passion.
Madeleine Doubek is publisher of Reboot Illinois.
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