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Local state lawmakers gather to discuss upcoming legislative session

Metro West holds breakfast Feb. 22

Senator Don De Witte, R-St. Charles, said it’s time to be bold.

De Witte, the former St. Charles mayor and alderman, discussed the need for bold action when discussing public safety reform and consolidation during the Metro West legislative breakfast in Geneva on Feb. 22.

“It’s time we made the bold move, to use the governor’s phrase in his budget speech,” De Witte said. “Bold optimism. I too hope that means bold compromise and bold bipartisanship, but it will take bold action by the legislature in Springfield and I look forward with all my colleagues on both sides.”

As an example, De Witte cited the I-80 bridges in Joliet, which were built in the mid 1960s and have been deemed “structurally deficient” by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Repairs are needed sooner than later.

“Can you imagine shutting down the busiest interstate in the entire country through the state of Illinois,” he asked. “And to have to funnel all those trucks and cars…to get them back on the interstate?”

De Witte and eight others had an opportunity to participate in panel to answer a few questions and share their opinions on the upcoming legislative session, local issues and challenges facing the State of Illinois, including trying to get to fiscal stability while still addressing other major issues including the aforementioned infrastructure problems.

They were asked if they would commit to considering each relevant piece of legislation from the perspective of the local communities they represent and seek counsel before casting a vote.

“Preserving local control is of paramount important when considering any piece of legislation,” said Geneva resident/Representative Dan Ugaste, R-Geneva. “We need to look at regulation and at the same time make sure we’re protecting our citizens and our workers are well taken care of.”

Working together among party lines is crucial.

“We all know that the last four years were not easy,” said Senator Cristina Castro, D-Elgin. “It created a lot of where we’re at now. We’re all working together, doing our best to work together and we’re all pragmatics. We all talk to one another. It seems like we can’t get along, but for the most part we do work together very diligently.”

Taxation isn’t the only solution according to Senator Sue Rezin, R-Morris.

“We all know the challenges, but I also believe we cannot tax our way out of where we are until we embrace and work with businesses to grow this economy,” she said. “Often times it’s why would I invest in the plant in Illinois when I can invest in the same in another state with the same product? Some might not be investing here or creating jobs.”

Representative Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, shared her optimism that’s stemming from Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s budget and state of the state address on Wednesday.

“I heard a lot of good things and a lot of hopeful messages in his budget and things that are going to put Illinois back on track,” she said. “One of the perennial issues is trying to deal with the state not balancing its budget on the backs of local government and/or imposing revenue restrictions on local governments like property tax freezes and things that come down for the state. I think the tone in Springfield with Pritzker finally acknowledging the reality of our state financially and that our tax structure needs fundamental reform, which I think is good for all of us.”

Restoring the local share of the state income tax to 10 percent was also discussed.

“What it comes down to ultimately is where does the money go,” said Senator Jim Obeweis, R-Sugar Grove. “We’re fighting to have balanced budget for the State of Illinois and the state took some of the funds that were meant for local distribution.”

Said Representative Karina Villa, D-West Chicago, “As a school board member from West Chicago, I know only too well of the struggles of when the state promises to give us something and it doesn’t appear. I know we have a big task on our hands and will continue being asked to doing more with less, but moving forward we’re not looking for miracles, but looking for solutions.

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