Everyday I work at the State Capitol is challenging and rewarding. I meet with and hear from so many different people who have so many different problems and concerns that I can’t help but be thankful for the things I have in my life.
The other day hundreds of people were marching with signs at the Capitol protesting budget cuts. Some were angry and upset. I mingled with them because I wanted to hear what they had to say. A loving father told me that his daughter was disabled and confined to a wheel chair after a car accident. He was concerned that budget cuts would reduce her care. She reached out to me and I gave her a hug. The previous day I met with employees from the Peoria School District concerned about cuts to education funding. A few days before that, a group told me they were afraid that budget cuts would leave children without a place to go before and after school. Then I read letters and emails from constituents who voiced concerns about cuts to programs ranging from music therapy to poison control. All the people had a valid argument and a valid concern, but my answer was, by necessity, always the same… Legislators don’t want to make the cuts, but we have to because we simply don’t have the money.
State legislators are required by law to balance the state budget, a budget that is expected to be short by over $3 Billion next year. The shortfall is caused by the combination of a poor economy and spending more than we had coming in. Unlike the federal government, we can’t print money, so we have to find other solutions. If we don’t get a handle on this problem, our state will run out of money and ALL the services will be in jeopardy.
I have co-sponsored legislation that will identify and reduce fraudulent use of our welfare and assistance programs. I want to make sure that American citizens truly in need be given top priority. But this is only a start.
I can assure you that I personally know our legislators are working over time tocome up with solutions. They are meeting with leaders in business, universities, cities, counties, and school districts from all over the state.
I became a state legislator to make a difference. Please know that I am working hard for you.