SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) said Governor Quinn’s State of the State address highlighted some meaningful areas and hit on the big issues of the state.
In calling legislators to work together to solve the fiscal crisis facing Illinois, however, Quinn lacked real leadership or solutions of his own, she said.
Sen. Rezin said that Gov. Quinn outlined the issues facing the state, notably pension funds and the budget deficit, and asked legislators to work together to pass legislation that will take the first step towards solving those issues. She echoed Quinn’s call, stressing that the state cannot afford to wait any longer for reform.
She noted that what was absent, however, was his leadership on a pension reform proposal for the state’s retirement systems.
“The state’s required pension payment is consuming available resources for other areas of the budget,” Sen. Rezin said. “The payment is increasing by another $1 billion this next fiscal year. Because of that, funding for public safety remains flat and funding for education, economic development, government services and all other human services funding is reduced.
“That poses a real danger to our state, and as legislators, it is our responsibility to work together and find a solution. I just wish the Governor would have shown some leadership on the issue besides encouraging the legislators to get the job done.”
Senate Republicans have worked to advocate for fiscal responsibility and sensible solutions to our budget woes for many years, and Sen. Rezin expects to continue in the same fashion.
“I’m hopeful that this reform will be accomplished during the spring session,” Sen. Rezin said. “It absolutely needs to be.”
State Rep. Pam Roth (R - Morris), after the State of the State address, said she is hoping to see a renewed focus on economic development moving forward.
“Governor Quinn laid out a list of accomplishments; and while I don’t want to discount the small amount of progress over the past several years, the fact remains that we are $9 billion in debt and continue to remain just under 9 percent unemployment,” Roth stated.
“There needs to be a renewed focus on growing our economy, broadening our tax base and protecting funding for those who need it most.”
“If we are going to truly fix Illinois’ problems,” she added, “it is going to take legislators with a strong stomach and a Governor who leads the debate. I stand ready to fix these issues, but the Governor needs to move away from the divisive social issues and leave those issues to the legislature.
“He needs to focus his own party’s leadership on an economic agenda we can all agree upon.”
Rezin, however, was not quick to dismiss the importance of social issues, noting Gov. Quinn’s mention of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which is set to be enacted this year and next. The state is required to set up Health Insurance Exchanges this session as a part of the Act’s implementation.
“I think we’re really going to see what is associated with the Affordable Care Act this year,” Sen. Rezin said. “We’re starting to realize what the Act will cost an average family of four, and people are starting to understand that this isn’t a program that is free. It will be interesting to see how the components of the Act will unfold on the state side.”
Sen. Rezin said Gov. Quinn made a lot of notable mentions of areas in which we have reformed in recent years, such as the legislative scholarship program, Medicaid, and workers compensation.
She mentioned that while these are good steps forward, the state still has several hurdles and some of the reforms haven’t gone far enough.
Sen. Rezin said that workers compensation only minimally improved costs to employers, and it’s something she’d like to see further reformed. She also noted that many of the Medicaid reforms have yet to be implemented.
Other topics Gov. Quinn mentioned were gun control, green energy, ethics, and veteran’s initiatives. Sen. Rezin raised questions with his mention of banning military style weapons, saying that he failed to address the court’s ruling in December that ordered Illinois to pass concealed carry legislation within 180 days.
With green energy, Sen. Rezin believes it could be beneficial, but is concerned about the higher energy prices that it could mean for consumers and the expense it could place on taxpayers.