Column

Bullying tactics put Illinoisans last

As chairman of the State Government Administration Committee in the Illinois House of Representatives, I became an early, vocal critic of former Gov. Blagojevich’s handling of state contracts and government operations. I held hearings on many questionable deals and alerted the people and the media to the outrageous and sometimes illegal actions of the Blagojevich administration.

It was a “my way or the highway” approach that Blagojevich used in an attempt to bully the legislature to his will. And it failed miserably. Thankfully, he was removed from office. Unfortunately, Team Blagojevich was not, and so Illinois finds itself on the brink of a man-made disaster – its abysmal fiscal condition coupled with a lack of a plan for balancing our state budget. The same team that created programs that the legislature never approved is now pushing Gov. Quinn to continue funding these programs. 

Twenty-one weeks ago, when Gov. Quinn took office, I had high hopes that the promised fumigation of state government would lead to a new governing style in Springfield. And in some ways, it has. Gov. Quinn is more engaged at a personal level, but he has failed to show the bold leadership required at this critical historical juncture.

The same managers who drove our state into fiscal catastrophe continue to control the levers of power. Bullying the legislature into huge tax increases will not work. The governor shamefully scares families throughout the state with draconian cuts which he sometimes admits he won’t make. Regrettably, he’s using these families to try to bend legislators to his will without the real structural reforms I and so many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle require in exchange for any tax increase.

As we left Springfield this week, the governor refused to commit to signing the capital construction/jobs bill, which only 12 short weeks ago he claimed to be vital. Instead he’s chosen to hold working families hostage. The governor falsely claimed yesterday that the executive branch should not comment on a piece of legislation until it reaches his desk. His claim is ridiculous. Each day, the governor’s office and his agencies take positions on all sorts of bills. He’s cynically counting on citizens’ lack of knowledge of the process to delay the capital program until he gets his way on a blank check tax increase. 

Governor, stop obfuscating, get prepared and lead. That means an examination of every expenditure, deep cuts, real sacrifice and, yes, maybe even a tax increase – but not without deep cuts. 

The opportunity for a historical change in Illinois exists for a few more short weeks. Please seize the moment, Gov. Quinn.

Now is your time to lead.

• Jack Franks, D-Marengo, issued this statement Friday in response to the ongoing budget stalemate in Springfield.

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