State Sens. Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry, and Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, offered a legislative update Wednesday evening to familiarize residents with their work in Springfield.
The two Republicans spoke about the recently enacted 2019 budget, a $38.5 billion spending plan signed into law this summer by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
“We had a couple of years in which we really didn’t have full-year budgets at all, the first two years that the governor was there,” McConchie said. “A lot of people over time tried to lay the blame entirely at the feet of the governor. I would be the first to say that the governor deserves some of the blame in that. He did go to war with the Legislature.”
However, McConchie said, when he first joined the Senate in 2016, there was “plenty of blame to go around” in the Legislature’s leadership.
“This year, we actually did come together and put together a budget,” McConchie said. “It’s balanced – sort of. It does count on some one-time income that may or may not materialize. For example, we’re expected to sell the Thompson Center, again, for the third year in a row, for $300 million.
[Chicago Mayor] Rahm Emanuel opposes that.
“We’ll see whether or not that will actually happen. We’re also supposed to get $400-plus, $470 million, in savings from some of our pension reforms. It’s unlikely, in my estimation, that we will get anywhere near that number.”
Still, “we are bringing in more money on the income tax side than we expected, in part just because our economy nationwide is doing well,” he added. “We are doing better than we have been.”
About two dozen area residents turned out for the free event in Crystal Lake City Hall’s council chambers, 100 W. Woodstock St. Many expressed concerns regarding property taxes.
“We already have the second-highest property taxes in the country,” McConchie said. “There’s not a lot that we at the state level can do to directly address property taxes. We need local units of government to constrain their own budgets.”
McConchie spoke for most of the meeting because Althoff is leaving the state Senate when her term is up.
“I loved every single moment that I served,” she said. “I would love to stay forever, but I have a personal philosophy that says that after a certain amount of time that you need to get out of the kitchen and let a new cook try new recipes.
“There are people who are younger than me that have different experiences than I have been exposed to, have different opinions. I would like to give them the opportunity. I just thought it was appropriate. I said I wouldn’t stay longer than 15 years, [and] it ends up being 16 years, which is the way it kind of worked. I believe very firmly that it was my time to move on.”