Today marks the 150th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s death and the Illinois House commemorated Lincoln’s life and his impact on the state of Illinois on the floor. Ask any US citizen and they will most surely rank him in the top three of the greatest presidents, if not first. He is remembered as the liberator of slaves and the savior of the Union and a president who united the country in the darkest of times.
The legislature is shaking out the cobwebs as it comes back from Spring Break this week and the task resumes on tackling the substantial amount of work that still needs to be done. There are many challenges that lie ahead of us in the coming weeks. School funding reform, a potentially contentious battle, is being considered. Worker’s compensation and minimum wage reform are being discussed. The Fiscal Year 2016 budget needs to be structured differently than those in the past in light of a 6 billion dollar budget hole that came with the sunset of the income tax hike. We face the tough task of striking a balance between getting this state back to fiscal robustness and making sure that the least amongst us do not fall through the cracks.
In these difficult times, we would do well to remember the lessons of Lincoln. As Lincoln said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. Illinoisans need to be united as we wade through the unpleasant times that lie ahead and, as legislators, I believe we need to think in terms of what is best for the entire state and not get bogged down in partisan or regional battles.
It is not an easy road that lies ahead of us, but I believe that in the coming weeks good work can be done to put Illinois back on the right path.