Pritchard's Perspective for May 15th

In This Issue:
Ø  Bipartisan Group of House Lawmakers Urges Senate Action
Ø  Thank You Teachers
Ø  Local Firefighters Awarded State's Highest Honor
Ø  Local Students' Art Exhibited in the Capitol 
Ø  We Should Not Abandon Affordable Higher Education

Bipartisan Group of House Lawmakers Urges Senate Action
The Senate has been debating a series of bills dealing with the budget for months and a group of House lawmakers say it’s time to vote and forward the bills to their chamber.  In an open letter to the Senate last Monday, some 30 bipartisan Representatives joined me in urging action and committing to a resolution of the state’s financial crisis now.
The number of members from both parties may have been motivation for Speaker Madigan to appoint 4 top members in his party on Tuesday to negotiate with the Governor over non-budget items.  Republican Leader Durkin did the same thing later in the week.  While yet another working group sounds like a stalling action by the Speaker, members seem ready for action.
House members recognized that the Senate’s budget plan does not have to be perfect, but a starting point at which the House can expand upon in order to produce a solution that will pass both chambers and ultimately be signed by the Governor.  A balanced compromise would include a package of bills that cut spending, raise revenue and make reforms that will grow the economy longer term.  
The legislators’ action clearly shows the frustration of taxpayers and voters.  But more people need to join in creating pressure.  I’ve told a number of school superintendents to turn up the volume in their “Pass Illinois Budget” campaign.  Let parents know schools won’t open this fall without a full state budget; indeed many can’t.  Let’s break the political fight and stop the slide to the fiscal abyss.  
Bipartisan House members ready to debate Senate budget bills 
Thank You Teachers
As we near the end of another school year, the nation paused this past week to thank our teachers.  I hope you stopped to think about a teacher in your life who made a difference; gave confidence, inspired, lite a spark in you or challenged you to do better.  Then let them know.
There are few careers more important to our nation than education yet too often criticized and ignored.  Thomas Jefferson wrote: “I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people.  No other sure foundation can be devised for the preservation of freedom and happiness.” 
We trust these teachers, staff and administrators with our most precious possessions (children) and miraculously they grow into responsible adults who too soon graduate from high school and college.  I had the opportunity to visit with some of these miracle workers last week—early childhood educators in Springfield and special needs educators in Garden Prairie.  Thank you all for the work you do for our community and country.  
Early childhood education advocates from DeKalb and Sycamore at the capitol

Local Firefighters Awarded State’s Highest Honor
It takes a different type of individual to rush into a burning building while others turn away.  When they save a life, words fail to express our appreciation.  Firefighters across the state were brought to the public eye last week in Springfield as the fire service’s highest honors were paid to those who had demonstrated the highest levels of professionalism, bravery and personal courage above and beyond the call of duty. 
Jared Thorp, firefighter/paramedic with the DeKalb Fire Department, received the state’s highest award for bravery and heroism.  On July 5, 2016, while off-duty and without hesitation or protective equipment, Jared entered a burning structure several times in an effort to locate and save an unconscious victim.  The individual was rescued with the help of fellow firefighters and paramedics from DeKalb Companies #1 and #2, despite rapidly deteriorating fire conditions and the possibility of extreme personal risk.  Congratulations!
Jared Thorp (above) and Engine Companies #2 and #1 members with their unit citations.
DeKalb Engine Company #2: Lieutenant Brett Gautcher and Firefighters/Paramedics Todd Adamson, Chris Krupa and Tim Stiker.  DeKalb Ladder Company #1: Captain Mike Thomas and Firefighters/Paramedics Matt Holuj, Matthew Klotz, Jon Ritter and Andrew Romano.
Local Students’ Art Exhibited at the Capitol
Art adds an essential dimension to one’s growth and development.  Educators point out increased creativity, attention to detail, perspective, problem solving, hand-eye coordination and concentration.  Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and visitors to the state capitol this past week got to see these elements at work in pieces of art created by students from our district. 
On display were the winners of my annual middle school art contest.  The judges picked three pieces created by 8th graders that involved a landscape and animals using pencil and paint. 
Lt. Governor Sanguinetti and the winning works of art by 8th graders 
 First Place was given to a piece created by Amber Jewel Francisco from Burlington Central Middle School.  Her vivid use of color and detail in a piece titled, “Home” captured the judges’ critical eye.  Second Place, drawn by Evelyn Rodriquez also from Burlington Central Middle School, was an amazing use of pencil that could be found on some of the finest greeting cards.  Evelyn and her family came to the capitol to discuss how art has influenced her life.  Another amazing piece by Zoie Cooley from Harter Middle School at Kaneville, earned runner-up honors for her unusual perspective of a horse. 

We Should Not Abandon Affordable Higher Education
This year marks the 150th anniversary of action by the General Assembly to accept federal resources for the establishment of a “Land-Grant” university—the University of Illinois.  The concept of a university created for the common people to address “more practical subjects” was inspired by Jonathan Baldwin Turner of Jacksonville.  
Turner believed “Education should be practical as well as academic, and it should not be the monopoly of the privileged few, but rather the right of everyone who has the desire and the ability to learn.”
Written into legislation that was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, the Morrill Act fundamentally changed higher education and research for not only Illinois but also the United States.  Combined with other legislation signed that year by Lincoln authorizing the Transcontinental Railroad, the Homestead Act, and the Department of Agriculture, the stage was set for innovation and progress in our country unparalleled in the world yet today.
Key to our progress has been the principal that quality university education benefits all--it is truly a public good.  As such, the cost of that education should not just for paid by the individual through tuition but made affordable through public tax support. 
We have seen a massive defunding of public support for higher education in Illinois over the past 17 years.  The legislature has put at risk the very policies that have contributed to our development and prosperity.  It is time to change course and reclaim the philosophy of Turner that an educated population not only secures economic success for all but also our democracy.

Have a great week and call my District Office to share your opinions or if I can be of assistance. 

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