An email from State Senator Dan Duffy:
26th District Legislative Update
Today Illinois faces problems like never before. Our state is in need of strong leadership. As your representative in Springfield, I am working to promote a job-friendly environment and restore common sense, efficient policies to state government.
Spending is out of control and the budget is completely out of alignment. In January, I voted against a 67% tax increase which unfortunately passed. Our state deficit continued to grow even after passing the largest tax hike in state history. Clearly, we can not tax our way out of this mess. The answer is not increased taxation, but effective, efficient government.
I have consistently opposed additional borrowing in order to meet Illinois’ financial obligations.
Unfortunately a budget passed which increased spending and once again deferred millions in Medicaid payments.
I advocated for a smaller, smarter government in order to balance our budget and restore Illinois’ fiscal health.
In November, I voted against a bill that would increase your monthly utility bills to fund so-called “smart grid” upgrades to our power infrastructure. I do not believe the state should further burden the people of Illinois in the middle of a deep recession.
This year I also continued to fight corruption in state government and spoke out against “pay-to-play” political appointments.
It is an honor to serve the 26th district in the Illinois State Senate. Your concerns and questions are very important to me. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your feedback so that I may better serve you!
Very truly yours,
State Senator 26th District
After the letter came the following press release:
Duffy Says Budget Biggest Issue in Illinois
Senator Duffy has argued for spending restraint insisting that the state must live within its means. Duffy voted against the 67% tax increase in January 2011, and opposed additional borrowing and increased spending. Legislators must identify real solutions that deliver services more efficiently.
During the 2011 spring legislative session, Senator Duffy and others offered a detailed “reality check” plan that would eliminate the deficit, phase out the tax increase, and revitalize the state’s economy by supporting Illinois’ job creators. The “reality check” plan outlined a menu of specific efficiency measures that, if implemented, would put Illinois back on the road to a balanced budget – without sacrificing essential services.
Some of the specific suggestions included combining the Treasurer and Comptroller’s offices to save as much as $12 million dollars. The plan also included meaningful public employee pension reforms which would save the state as much as $1.35 billion immediately, with additional savings in the years ahead.
Government pensions are more generous than those received by private sector tax payers. Some government pensions offer retirement at age 55, require minimum pension contributions, and have free health care. Many pension recipients receive more than $100,000 per year in benefits. This is not fair to the hard working citizens of Illinois whose tax dollars are paying for these overly generous benefits.
Illinois families have learned that in lean times they must spend less to keep their household budgets balanced. It is time the state learns to do the same!
Duffy Opposes Utility Rate Hike
During the fall veto session the legislature voted to override a gubernatorial veto on Senate Bill 1652, a piece of legislation that uses rate hikes to fund upgrades to the state’s power infrastructure.
In debate, Duffy raised concerns that campaign contributions had influenced votes on the legislation. Campaign finance watchdogs estimated that ComEd and Ameren spent in excess of $930,000 in campaign contributions to legislators while discussing the “smart grid” legislation. Duffy also opposed the clause in the legislation which guaranteed profits to the power companies for decades to come.
Senator Duffy noted that it may not be the appropriate time to be moving forward with the new “smart grid” legislation. In theory meters may provide better information about how to cut energy use and save money, but the meters are expensive. The cost will be passed on to consumers through rate hikes. Additionally, if consumers want to see the full benefits of the upgrades, they must add complicated in-home displays and integrate home-area networks which will take data from the meters to control appliances and other pieces of equipment.
Duffy voted against the legislation over concerns that it placed an unfair financial burden on Illinois citizens to fund the upgrades.
Duffy Fights “Quinn pro quos”
This year, Senator Duffy continued his crusade against what he calls “Quinn pro quos,” or political appointments to elected officials, their top donors, and their family members.
In the fall veto session Duffy spoke out against the $117,000 a year appointment of Jennifer Burke, daughter of powerful Chicago Alderman Ed Burke and Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, to the Illinois Pollution Control Board. Duffy said,
“This is typical pay-to-play politics—the same bad policy of appointing politically connected people to high priced board positions. How would the typical person in Illinois even know how to apply for a position like this?”
In February Duffy introduced Senate Bill 1935, a measure that would prohibit the spouse, child, or spouse of a child of a state official, from being appointed to any state board or commission.
Duffy Continues Fight Against Red Light Cameras
Senator Duffy believes we should do everything possible to keep our roads safe. However he feels red light cameras are all about revenue, not about safety.
The US Department of Transportation statistics show that an average motorist could drive a billion miles – the distance from Earth to Jupiter and back – before being involved in and accident that resulted from turning right on red. [emphasis provided]
In March, Duffy introduced Senate Bill 26, a measure that prohibits a county or municipality from using a red light camera to issue violations to drivers who enter an intersection to turn right on red, where it is a legal maneuver.
Duffy debated that if the issue was truly about safety, municipalities should remove cameras from right turn lanes and install “no turn on red” signs at troubled intersections.
In the fall veto session, Duffy voted against using red light cameras as “speed” cameras.
Senate Bill 965 allows a special feature on the red light cameras to be switched “on”, which in turn allows the cameras to monitor the speed of automobiles as they pass by.
The cameras will then issue tickets to cars driving over the speed limit.
The ticket goes to the car, not to the driver. In debate on the Senate Floor the Senator spoke out against the legislation saying,
“I’m against this big brother piece of legislation.”