Ignoring Illinois taxpayers has consequences.
For decades, state politicians have ignored the opinions of the Illinoisans who fund the state budget. Now, on top of politicians failing to pass a balanced budget, Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger announced the state could face more than $8.5 billion in unpaid bills by the end of the year.
Ignoring taxpayers also had consequences for state Rep. Carol Sente, D-Vernon Hills, who decided to ignore the wishes of her constituents in her vote to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1229.
The bill would have given an unelected and unaccountable panel of three arbitrators the ability to set the terms of the next contract for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, worth billions of dollars.
Sente’s district was one of many legislative districts Illinois Policy Action reached leading up to the SB 1229 veto vote. Through robo-calls, full-page newspaper ads, social media alerts and boots on the ground canvassing, residents in 35 different lawmakers’ districts were informed of the pending vote. The results were overwhelming, with 5,836 taxpayers calling their lawmakers and collectively spending over 100 hours of talk time on this issue.
The Illinois House of Representatives ended up falling three votes short of passing an override of Rauner’s veto.
Things are changing in Springfield. When pondering, “What can I do?” Illinoisans should think about all the individuals who collectively changed the entire narrative in this debate. And how without them, House Speaker Mike Madigan would have fulfilled his promise of overriding Rauner’s veto.
So next time you receive a mailer or phone call, or are handed literature at the train station that includes a call to action on an issue you agree with, remember this: You might just be the one final call that gets your representative to vote with the taxpayers.
Jim Long is the manager of government affairs with the Illinois Policy Institute.