It’s spring break, when the U.S. Congress heads for the local photo ops with the potential victims.
U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, went to Emerson Park Development Corp. in East St. Louis. He said the YouthBuild job training program works. His staff will work to try to help save it.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Hoffman Estates, went to Lessie Bates Davis Adult Day Services Center in East St. Louis. She said the center and the AmeriCorps headquarters there are in real danger, to be slashed, facing shut down.
Then comes the voice of local “victim” Lillie Butler-Lawrence. She goes off script.
“Our infrastructure, public works department needs more help than anything,” Butler-Lawrence said. “It is dark in this city. (And) we don’t have sewer; sewer is backing up in our basement.”
Lunch with companions at the center is nice, but her real need, if you care to ask, are for government basics. She needs street lights for safety. She needs sewers that work.
Federal spending has for years been shifting away from the grants that local government used for basics such as sewers and streets. Put another way, the feds are returning fewer and fewer of our tax dollars to us for the services government is expected to provide.
That’s across the nation. Here in Illinois it is even worse, with us ranking 47th for the return on our federal investment.
If the congressional break really is a time to hear people rather than talk at the other party, hear this: We had a deal. We want what we paid for. Get a grip on the entitlements, provide for the common defense and fix the infrastructure. Sewers before an involved apparatus for a lunch date.