Elected officials gather in Libertyville for update
BY LINDA BLASER | firstname.lastname@example.org September 25, 2012
LIBERTYVILLE — An update on the state and local economy, jobs, pension debt and the future growth of small businesses dominated discussion at the annual Multi-Chamber Legislative Breakfast at Advocate Condell Medical Center Tuesday, Sept. 25.
Nine local elected officials had five minutes each to present to some 50 attendees what they view as the top state and local issues they expect to face in the coming year.
Making presentations were U.S. Rep. Robert Dold (R-10th), State Sen. Dan Duffy (R-26th), State Sen. Terry Link (D-30th), State Rep. Carol Sente (D-59th), State Rep. Ed Sullivan Jr. (R-51st), Lake County Board Chairman David Stolman and Lake County Board members Carol Calabresa, Aaron Lawlor and Diana O’Kelly.
The breakfast was sponsored by the GLMV (Green Oaks, Libertyville, Mundelein and Vernon Hills) Chamber of Commerce, the Grayslake Area Chamber of Commerce and Advocate Condell Medical Center.
Dold noted that while the most recent U.S. jobs report showed a national drop from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent unemployment, pockets of the 10th District continue to hover around 22 percent. Dold noted he sponsored a bill to encourage global companies to create jobs in the U.S. and supported the Jumpstart Our Businesses (JOBS) Act.
“Most people are frustrated about what’s going on in Washington and Springfield,” Dold said.
Duffy said the biggest problem in the state is unfunded pensions. He called the state’s $83 billion pension debt “unsustainable.”
He pointed to state leaders who receive campaign contributions from unions as one reason pension reform hasn’t progressed in Illinois.
“People need to get involved in the legislative process. We can make a difference,” Duffy said.
Link said the state woes started more than a decade ago when it was spending money at a faster rate than it was collecting it.
“Nobody was complaining then,” he said. “We were bringing money back to our districts.”
Link said Democrats and Republicans together got the state into its debt crisis and need to work together to bring the state out of it.
“Residents should be the only winners,” he said. “That’s what the focus of Springfield should be about.”
Sente said her constituents are looking for a break in taxes and for Springfield to spend more wisely.
“Let legislators be involved in budgeting and set a realistic spending ceiling,” she said as one way that could be accomplished.
On local jobs, Sente said she supported extending unemployment benefits to those who lost their jobs but were starting a small business.
Sullivan said the five biggest cost drivers for businesses in the state are tax hikes, unemployment insurance, a proposed increase in the minimum wage, workman’s compensation and pensions.
He said the proposal to shift pension benefits costs for unfunded liabilities going forward to local property owners is one of the biggest issues facing local property owners and small business owners.
“It’s what I really want you to focus on,” Sullivan said.
On the county level, Stolman and the county board members talked about roadwork under way to open up traffic and draw new businesses to the area, improvements in the county’s process to make it easier for new businesses to move to Lake County and expansion of the county’s trail system as another draw for the area.