As the Illinois General Assembly returned to Session after a nearly two-month hiatus, expectations were abysmally low for progress to help jumpstart the state’s economy in freefall. With Unemployment numbers topping 16% in April, weary Illinoisans, plagued by decades of dysfunction and corruption already could not have possibly set their expectations lower.
Indeed, the Governor failed to clear even these minimal expectations of good governance. The first two days of legislative session squandered with not much hope for a productive rebound. Day 1 was largely spent on shows of alleged decorum and political dog and pony shows with democrat leaders showing off their displays of dominance clearly stemming from two months of isolation with no subjects to rule over, all to make everyone sit quietly distanced for several hours to follow before unceremoniously adjourning for the day. The only announcements of substance came from the bipartisan, bicameral Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) announcing the Governor would, reluctantly, back off using Administrative power to jail business owners in violation of the Stay at Home Order. Instead, the Governor made it clear he would seek legislative accomplices instead to check that item off his wish-list. A real win for the little guy!
Following that, the Governor, feeling the pressure of enraged business owners tying up phonelines of legislators throughout the weekend, backed off of some previous restrictions in what could best be described as a ceremonial crumb-throwing to Illinoisans frustrated with continued full economic shutdown, even in areas with low infection rates and high hospital surge capacity. Political Convenience 1, Common-Sense 0.
Day 2 was taken up with only debating, over the course of over 4 hours, the Democrats’ Omnibus Election Bill. I will write about that bill separately, but it passed along overtly partisan lines and will likely benefit from even greater progressive political largesse in the State Senate. It is a pathetic display of progressive slippery slope policies that jeopardize our most sacred of democratic institutions to a landslide of fraud and dysfunction.
Day 2 eventually adjourned mid-evening on Thursday. Day 3 work includes budget votes and a COVID release package. Unbalanced, insufficient, and not equitable. We knew going in and yet the Democrats even managed those expectations too high, with disappointment abounding at the total lack of real work and collaborative effort that the legislature- heck any legislative body- is supposed to embody.
Illinois Democrats may have proven they can squeeze all the work they do in a year into less than a week, but what about regular Illinoisans. What about the working dads and moms still out of work without assistance to feed their families? What about the restaurants and bars in our historic, small town downtowns that cannot DO open air socially distanced seating at their locations? What about the small retailers deciding not to re-open or the brides now cancelling their planned 2020 wedding celebrations?
I’m sorry that Chicago Democrats felt like your concerns didn’t matter enough to do anything about, either because of self-interest first or because they assume each of us wear a MAGA hat, tote guns around everywhere, and somehow, deserve this fate of watching our neighbors livelihoods fade like the memories of a community fireworks display on this quarantined Independence Day.
You deserved better and many well-intentioned citizen legislators fought hard for something better on your behalf. I was proud of how legislators from outside the Northeast corner of our State came together, shared their experiences and battled for their communities in this extraordinarily abridged Session. The Democrats didn’t get compliance, but stern principled resistance. However, the existing balance of power in this State left your voice masked and muzzled. Your concerns matter to me and I won’t stop fighting for you, until its clear to those in power that the rest of Illinois matters too. Our expectations were, sadly, not low enough.