Until Governor Quinn and ruling majorities in the House and Senate reduce Medicaid eligibility to the national average, dramatically reform and fund public employee pensions for future and current employees, secure spending flexibility on billions of federal so-called stimulus dollars, and conduct a hard scrubbing for efficiency of every agency and program in state government, Illinois will continue the budget â€œdeath spiralâ€ that is causing employers to evacuate with their jobs, senior citizens with assets to relocate to other states, and bond rating companies to double-downgrade the financial prospects of 12.9 million Illinoisans.
To avoid wearing out my welcome by replaying budget and job-creation solutions that I have repeatedly proposed here and in Springfield, I will devote this article to â€œLauzen’s Top 10â€ legislative initiatives that I am proposing this Spring on your behalf:
1. What’s good for the goose: 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, â€œCongress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives, and Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.â€
According to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, the People, through at least two-thirds of their state legislators, can call for a convention strictly limited to enact this provision. (SJR111)
2. Eliminate pensions for members of the Illinois General Assembly: If you really want to affect term limits, remove platinum-plated benefits. Citizen legislators should not be incentivized like professional politicians or state workers in the permanent bureaucracy. (SB2920)
3. Stop gerrymandering legislative districts: Support the League of Women Voters â€œFairMapâ€ referendum to end the practice of legislative leaders protecting the status quo by selecting their constituents, rather than constituents fairly electing their representatives.
4. Cut unfunded mandates to schools and local governments: Especially during a time when those running state government are behaving like deadbeats, immediately reduce all the unnecessary regulation that pumps up bureaucracy and waste. If you’re not going to send the money, hold back all that advice. (SB3000)
5. Saved you $10M of wasteful spending: Senator Dale Righter and I killed legislation in Senate floor debate on March 10 that would have given a $10 million payback of your tax dollars to four casinos (not Aurora or Elgin) between 2006 and 2009.
6. Ban political robocalls: Eliminate the exception for politicians to the â€œDo Not Callâ€ list procedures. (SB3135)
7. Fair assessments for property taxes: County assessors must include foreclosures, short sales and other distressed situations in determining the true value of real estate. (SB3334)
8. Eliminate redundant elementary-school districts within a single high-school district: By referendum, residents would choose a single high school district that their elementary school district children would go to. This consolidation would not close schools, it would combine redundant administrationâ€”improving curriculum coordination and saving an estimated quarter of a billion dollars statewide per year. (SB2281)
9. Term limits for legislators: Republican Governor Nominee Senator Bill Brady and I would prohibit representatives from serving more than five consecutive terms and senators from more than three terms. (SJRCA 77)
10. Reform public-employee pensions: Eliminate double-dipping into multiple public-pension systems; raise age for collecting public pensions to 62 years old from 50 and 55; cap benefits at six-figure annual income of $100,000; reduce annual cost-of-living increases; calculate benefits based on average of highest eight of last 10 years (rather than in many cases, last day of service); and, fully-fund what is promised. These provisions will save you tens of billions of dollars over the next 20 to 30 years. (SB2825, SFA 1)
The next step on each of these proposals is to get the maximum number of senate co-sponsors to increase support for passage. Call me at (630) 264-2334, if you would like to help.
Senator Chris Lauzen