One of the major roles of being a state representative is listening to your constituents. I pride myself on not only listening to the concerns of residents and business owners in the 72nd District but also attempting to solve problems. The biggest concern I hear is the state's budget and its unpaid bills. This not only has affected our schools and social-service agencies but it also has affected how the businesses in our state plan for growth. We must not forget that in 2008 and 2009 we saw an economic collapse not seen since the Great Depression. When businesses were laying workers off, you also saw a large reduction in tax receipts. But we still needed to invest in vital services and education while seeing this large reduction. Now that we are seeing signs of growth, we are seeing more jobs being added to Illinois. At the same time, I have voted for budgets that have cut spending by almost $3 billion and have voted to direct any new spending to paying down unpaid bills. I have voted to completely reform our state's Medicaid system which ensures those that are not eligible each and every year are kicked off the system. We have much more to do -- but this situation was not created overnight and its solution will not come in just one year either. The issue of our debt and unpaid bills is not going to be solved by cuts alone, like my opponent claims it can be (though he has refused to specify any cuts he supports). We must have a pro-growth strategy as well in this state. As I stated above one of the roles of being a state representative is listening to area business owners for their insights and ideas. Deere & Co. stated that there was a significant need for engineers here in the Quad-Cities. That is why with their help and the help of the state, we were able to secure Western Illinois University Quad Cities and now have an accredited engineering program right here in the Quad-Cities. Public-private partnerships work and that is why we must encourage working together. We can not only train our students right here in the Quad-Cities but we can ensure that high paying jobs will be here as well. We can foster growth in our local businesses in other ways as well. I helped pass the EDGE tax credits that incentive our businesses to keep jobs right here in Illinois. I have continually supported extension of the Research and Development Tax Credits that help our advanced manufacturing companies ensure that they continue to invest right here in the Quad-Cities. We must continue to support our local businesses to reinvest right here in Illinois and not ship jobs elsewhere. Our current tax rates are still lower than our neighbors, and I support the expiration of the temporary tax increase. A combination of growth, education investment and budget cuts is the most effective way to balancing our state's budget and I will continue to support these strategies.
Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, represents Illinois House District 72.