As one of the most conservative Democrats in the Illinois House, I have spent my time as a state representative focusing not on partisan politics but on bipartisan solutions that support Southern Illinois values. My goal has always been to stand as a strong voice for Southern Illinois, and I am willing to work with anyone from any party toward that end, including the governor. However, Gov. Rauner has repeatedly shown that he prefers playing political games over working towards solutions for Illinois’ problems.
Today, as we approach the end of the fiscal year with yet again no budget in sight, I am calling on Gov. Rauner to stop the political games and focus on finding a solution.
I have tried my hardest to avoid public negativity in the face of this unprecedented impasse, preferring to work behind the scenes to strike a deal that will help bring Illinois back on track and start to undo the damage the last two years have caused. But I cannot stay quiet any longer while the state of Illinois continues to hemorrhage and Southern Illinois continues to suffer.
No amount of Carhartt jackets or flannel shirts can hide the fact that Gov. Rauner is just another Chicago politician trying to make Southern Illinois pay for the state’s mess. Gov. Rauner has repeatedly attempted to cut programs vital to Southern Illinois, such as funding for agriculture education, soil and water conservation districts, and county fairs, while personally supporting organizations like Planned Parenthood with direct donations.
Gov. Rauner has repeatedly accused Democrats of using duct tape to fix Illinois’ problems. While he is correct that duct tape won’t fix Illinois’ problems, neither will campaign-style advertisements attacking the very people Gov. Rauner needs to help him fix this state. For 198 years, under both Republican and Democratic governors, the state passed a budget. The only thing that has changed in the last two years has been a governor who is unwilling to compromise and work towards solutions. As countless Illinois businesses, services and citizens have been hurt by their government failing to enact a budget, the last thing we need are continued political games from the man who, while elected to govern, has yet to make any effort to lead Illinois out of the crisis he manufactured.
I stand ready and willing to work with the governor and with any of my colleagues, Republican or Democrat, to craft a responsible budget in these final days of the fiscal year. But in order to do so, the governor needs to stop campaigning and start governing before the damage done to our Southern Illinois communities is irreversible. Only together can we find a solution, and the only way to work together is to stop the political games and focus on passing a budget.
Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, represents the 116th District in the Illinois state House of Representatives.