- Jun 18, 2015
Springfield finds itself again in a standoff. A new governor is battling the long-standing leadership, with deep divides in ideology halting progress towards a budget agreement. Where do we find compromise when both sides believe so strongly they are right?
The answer could be right in front of us. This spring, Republican state Sen. Sue Rezin and I brokered a deal between two sides of a long-running dispute that ultimately won overwhelming bipartisan support of the House and Senate.
The IL State Chamber of Commerce and other business interests had sought to create a state-controlled process for issuing air pollution permits for large industrial projects in downstate Illinois, arguing the current federal process was creating unnecessary delays and deterring potential developers. Environmentalists and consumer advocates argued this change was unnecessary and would limit the ability of affected residents to make their voices heard when a new factory would move in next door. Gridlock became the status quo. Sen. Rezin and I decided a different path was necessary. We brought both sides together and made clear that overreach or unreasonable demands would not be tolerated. Both sides would have to give. In the end, both did and the result is better for it.
The budget challenges and debates over property taxes, workers’ compensation reform and other items are more complicated and divisive than this air quality control issue. It is not as simple as saying we must do better for it to be so.
Yet as we trek back and forth to the Capitol this summer and question what progress is being made on our stalemate, I hope that a better path lies ahead. I opposed the legislature’s decision to approve a budget that spends more revenue than is available. On the other hand, the governor insists on policy changes before he will negotiate a budget agreement, when it is clear there is not support in the legislature for those changes.
A breakthrough can only come when the mindset changes. Where can we find agreement on elements of the governor’s agenda that will change how Illinois encourages economic success? What mix of budget cuts and revenue increases will protect those services and programs that matter most and move our state down a better path?
Too often, we lose sight of the goal of service. We forget that every Illinoisan relies on an effective state government in some way: the businesswoman who needs modern infrastructure to get her goods to market; the senior on a fixed income receiving assistance with his utility bills; the student seeking the best education she can get, from kindergarten through college. Each counts on us in Springfield being able to work through disagreements and deliver results.