Two new faces took the oath of office Wednesday to represent McHenry County in the Illinois General Assembly.
The Republican lawmakers – Allen Skillicorn and Steve Reick – replace two longtime legislators.
Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, succeeds Republican Mike Tryon in the 66th House District. After 12 years, Tryon decided to term-limit himself and step down. Reick, R-Woodstock, now represents the 63rd House District in place of Jack Franks, who successfully ran for McHenry County Board chairman.
In the Illinois Senate, Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, was sworn in to represent the 26th Senate District after winning his Nov. 8 race. He was appointed last year to fill out the remaining term of Republican Dan Duffy, who term-limited himself and stepped down early to lead a nonprofit agency.
Skillicorn said he has hit the ground running by filing legislation for term limits, tax reform, tax increment financing district transparency and other initiatives. He and Reick join incumbent local Reps. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills; Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake; and Steven Andersson, R-Geneva, all of whom ran unopposed.
“Now it’s time to get things done. I already have six bills filed with the clerk,” Skillicorn said.
Lawmakers have a daunting task ahead of them that previous General Assemblies have been unable to tackle. Illinois has gone 18 months without a budget – a six-month stopgap budget expired Jan. 1 – because of the legislative loggerheads between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic Party that controls the House and Senate.
The state faces $130 billion in unfunded pension liability and $11 billion in unpaid bills, and has the worst credit rating, hovering just above junk status, of all 50 states. For the past two years, Illinois has led the nation in population loss and was consistently near the top in previous years.
For the 17th time, House lawmakers elected Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, as House speaker, a post he has held for 32 years except for a two-year period between 1995 and 1997.
While Reick said he intends to work in a bipartisan effort, he highlighted the fact that his first vote as a lawmaker was against Madigan’s re-election.
“I am bringing a new style of leadership to Springfield for the people of Illinois’ 63rd House District. As evidenced through my first vote, I will not support the failed leadership that has brought Illinois to the brink of insolvency,” Reick said.
Despite a campaign by Republicans to pressure Democrats into voting for someone else, only one, Scott Drury, D-Highwood, voted present.
“I’m glad that one Democrat came over and decided to embrace something to resemble reform. I applaud him and am looking forward to working with him and other Democrats who are reform-minded like him,” Skillicorn said.
The GOP gained four seats in the House, denying Madigan a veto-proof supermajority but still giving him a seven-seat cushion over the 60 needed for a majority. In the Senate, Democrats still have a comfortable veto-proof supermajority with 37 seats – the party elected Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, to a fifth term leading the body.
In a statement, McConchie said that he intends to work for property tax relief, education funding reform and reining in state spending.
“My main priority while serving in the 100th General Assembly will be to continue to fight for a true balanced budget accompanied by reforms that will boost the economy. In order to turn the state around, the General Assembly must promote an economic climate that encourages job creation,” McConchie said.
Also joining McConchie in the Senate are Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry, who handily won re-election, and Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles, who was not up for election this year.