Illinois' inability to pay its bills, abysmal credit rating and flagging economy are all the results of a single cause. This state's government has failed to govern, failed to lead and failed to inspire confidence. Without sweeping changes to the leadership of the Land of Lincoln, this death spiral will continue and we will remain the bankrupted laughing stock that we have become. During my first year of office, I was pleasantly surprised by a budget process that was a near antithesis of past years. For decades, the Illinois budget had been drafted behind closed doors and only came into the light a few hours before legislators were called upon to vote on it. This is no way to draft a budget that spends tens of billions of taxpayer dollars and impinges upon the lives of millions of Illinoisans. However, in my first year of office, we did it right. We developed realistic revenue estimates, paid our first bills first and distributed all remaining line items in an open, bipartisan manner. Sadly, business as usual returned in May of 2012 and the most recent budget passed the Illinois House on a party-line vote. If our state is going to regain its strength and return to its rightful place as the undisputed regional powerhouse that we used to be, we are going to need to make real changes. First, we must remove Michael Madigan from his seat of unbridled power. He has been Speaker of the Illinois House for all but two years since 1983. It is not surprising that Illinois' decline has mirrored his reign. Next, we must get the boot of government off the throats of those who would like to take risks and make opportunity happen. What does Illinois do instead? It raises taxes, stifles business with regulation and scares off the very people we need to turn this mess around. Perhaps the most notable recent casualty is the headquarters of Illinois native sandwich chain Jimmy Johns. The owner cited our deplorable business climate as a prime reason for the departure. A hallmark of bad policy in this state is the jobs-crushing 67 percent tax increase that was rammed through a lame duck General Assembly, only hours before I, and other reform-minded freshman, were sworn in. Please let me be clear. That tax hike was wrong. I would have voted against it. I am a co-sponsor of attempts to repeal it. Also, sunset would be a good idea if it actually was scheduled to fully go away, but in the trickery of Springfield, the scheduled rollback is only partial. Illinois can be great again. We have to kick out the Chicago politicians who hold us back. We must end wrong-headed policies that only worsen our situation. We need to turn our great citizens and abundant resources free and watch them thrive again. In this race for state representative, I am the only candidate who is willing or able to take these serious steps toward prosperity and security.
Rep. Rich Morthland, R-Cordova, represents the 71st Illinois House district.
Today is Tuesday, Sept. 16, the 259th day of 2014. There are 106 days left in the year.
1864 — 150 years ago: A fine lumber mill is on the course of erection at Andalusia. A flouring mill at that location is doing a fine business. 1889 — 125 years ago: J.B. Lidders, past captain of Beardsley Camp, Sons of Veterans, returned from Paterson, N.Y., where he attended the National Sons of Veterans encampments. 1914 — 100 years ago: President Wilson announced that he had received from the imperial chancellor of Germany a noncommittal reply to his inquiry into a report that the emperor was willing to discuss terms of peace. 1939 — 75 years ago: Delegates at the Illinois Conference of the Methodist Church in Springfield voted to raise the minimum pay of ministers so that every pastor would get at least $1,000 annually. 1964 — 50 years ago: An audience of more than 2,600 persons jammed into the Davenport RKO Orpheum theater with a shoe horn feasted on a Miller-Diller evening that was a killer night. Phyllis Diller sent the audience with her offbeat humor. And send them she did! It was Miss Diller's third appearance in the Quad-Cities area. 1989 — 25 years ago: A few years ago, a vacant lot on 7th Avenue and 14th Street in Rock Island was a community nuisance. Weeds grew as high 18 inches. Today, the lot has a new face, thanks to Michael and Sheila Rind and other neighbors who helped them turn it into a park three weeks ago.