Letter: There is progress In Springfield

Published: Thursday, June 1, 2017 8:13 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, June 2, 2017 2:52 p.m. CDT

To the editor:

After months of negotiation and discussions, the Illinois Senate moved forward in late May with bipartisan votes on several measures comprising the Senate’s “Grand Bargain” budget and reform package.  

Substantial reform to the state’s pension systems was advanced that will save as much as $1 billion a year. This would provide significant financial relief for our state. 

While lawmakers still have much to do, I view the recent action as progress. We’ve demonstrated that we can reach consensus on critical issues, and that is a reason for optimism. This is why my colleagues on both sides of the aisle must remain at the table and continue our good faith negotiations on a balanced budget with structural reforms.  

It’s vitally important that we advance parity for the homeowners and employers who are saddled with some of the highest property taxes in the nation. Every single day our state’s tax policies drive residents out of Illinois. 

This isn’t just a burden on suburban residents. This is a bipartisan issue that impacts residents throughout the state. The reality is we wouldn’t still be engaged in this dialogue if there wasn’t recognition from legislators representing both parties that businesses and homeowners desperately need meaningful property tax relief. 

With every budget conversation we get a little closer to something both sides can live with. Considering Illinois is a diverse state facing many challenges, it’s not an easy task to forge a compromise on issues of this magnitude. However, Republicans have been clear throughout these negotiations: Before we consider a revenue increase of any kind, we must offer parity to residents through property tax relief.

Senate lawmakers are close on so many outstanding issues, but balancing the budget on the backs of our homeowners and employers simply isn’t an option. Now is the time to turn down the rhetoric, focus on compromise and stay on task to reach an agreement before time runs out.

Karen McConnaughay

State senator for the 33rd District