This Memorial Day Weekend couldn’t have come at a better time. Legislators needed to get out of Springfield, go back to the people they represent and remember that the freedoms we enjoy are not free. Thousands of men and women have given their lives to buy and preserve our democracy.
The optimistic air in Springfield that a balanced budget might be possible before spring session ends has soured. Groups of rank and file legislators have made progress on reforms to help our state grow, identify areas to trim in the budget and look for additional revenue for unpaid bills. Rather than find a solution now, Democrat Leaders appear more focused on a tug-of-war to win votes in November.
Somewhere along the way, real compromise became an unwelcomed word in Springfield. Compromise is not excluding the minority party from helping shape policies but rather looking for the best solutions. It is not one leader’s ideas but rather the input from elected legislators. It has become easier to blame the Governor than work with him; easier to avoid hard decisions and just point fingers.
I believe most legislators want a resolution that will keep government running, help the needy and older citizens, education our youth and grow the economy so that more Illinoisans can be self-sufficient. We can’t wait until November to take action to trim spending and enhance revenue. Citizens need to keep the pressure on Springfield to pass a balanced budget.
President Abraham Lincoln in dedicating the Gettysburg Cemetery offered sage advice to his generation and for use today to preserve our democracy and break the gridlock in Illinois: “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”
Active civic engagement and participation in our communities is something we can all do to preserve our democracy. Contact legislators and State leaders this week to demand that they not abandon their responsibilities or shirk the hard decisions. Illinois needs a balanced budget now. We can’t wait till November.