Morrison's Response to Departure of Takeda HQ Symbolizes Her Failed Career as State Senator
In response to today's Takeda Pharmaceuticals announcement to close its headquarters in Deerfield, Senator Morrison deflected her own responsibility in a press release and placed all the blame on Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.
When Lake County companies are looking to the future they see an obstructionist state legislature that is consistently hostile to their prosperity. Instead of pointing fingers at a governor whose reforms have been thwarted at every turn, Senator Morrison should accept her own responsibility for enabling John Cullerton and Mike Madigan to erode the economic vitality of our state with their out-of-control tax and spend agenda. The loss of Takeda from her hometown symbolizes Senator Morrison’s failed career as an Illinois State Senator. We need new leadership in the Illinois Senate.
The status quo politicians have run up more than $128 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. That liability may be double when considering local fire and police pensions. The IL Supreme Court’s decision to prohibit changes to existing pension promises makes reform more difficult and expensive, but it does not foreclose all opportunity.
This is not a partisan issue. We are all in this together. Dedicated teachers, law enforcement, first responders and other public employees are critical to our state’s prosperity. A compensation framework and retirement system that is competitive, dependable, and sustainable is in all of our best interests. It’s the failure of status quo politicians like Senator Julie Morrison and Mike Madigan to focus on this situation that puts Illinois at an existential crossroads.
I will consider any good faith pension reform proposal. However, I support the following steps to begin making measurable progress toward a sustainable system:
- All new employees must be moved to a 401(k) style defined contribution plan and should participate in and benefit from Social Security. We have to stop increasing the population of employees within an unsustainable system while also ensuring critical professions (teachers, police and fire) are attractive to future employees.
- Moral responsibility and the Supreme Court decision both support our keeping our promises to public workers and retirees depending on pension for their retirement. Funding these very generous promises recklessly made by status quo politicians will require renegotiation of existing debt and new borrowing.
- The ability to develop and pass a new structure for future employees allowing us to define and cap our existing long-term obligations freeing rating agencies to improve Illinois’ worst in the nation credit rating. This move is desperately needed to lower borrowing costs and renegotiate current debt at better rates.
- The state will then also be in a better position to think about alternative approaches to retire current obligations. For example, the term of the bonds could be stretched to match the long-term nature of the obligations, reducing the annual interest payment amount.
- The 653 local fire and police pensions must be managed by a central body. This will allow them to protect their respective shares while obtaining the benefits of economies of scale. My opponent identified this as something she supports but doesn’t have the courage to advance it because of union opposition* (we need leaders who are truly independent of special interests and willing to push back on them on behalf of the people and small businesses of our state). This proposal has been politicized and fear mongered. We can drive better returns for a combined effort. We can still provide the local control desired on issues of disability and workers compensation. Building trust here is critical. Solutions are required by both those who serve in uniform and our municipalities saddled with funding the currently ineffective system. My father was a Chicago policeman for 35 years and my mother has lived on a CPD widow’s pension for 14 years. I understand the importance of these benefits and believe we have a responsibility to be good stewards of a dependable system for current and future generations.
The opioid epidemic is a massive crisis in Illinois. Over 2,000 individuals lost their lives to overdosing and complications related to addiction to opiates in 2017.
Each one of these victims of addiction leave behind family and friends who miss them dearly, a feeling that my own family understands all too well. A year ago, my brother-in-law took his own life in my home after a lifelong battle with addiction and depression. The pain of losing a close loved one forced my family to face and discuss some very serious issues like addiction, depression, and suicide.
While I reflect on the memory of my brother-in-law and lives of so many others that have been lost to this disease, I can’t help but think about what could have been done to prevent these tragedies.
This campaign for Senate has given me the opportunity to meet with grieving families, health care experts, and community leaders to gain a broader perspective. I've learned that our community has some fantastic resources for families struggling with addiction and mental illness. I’ve also learned that our legislators in Springfield have been derelict in their duty to prioritize this issue.
That is why I am committed to giving a strong voice to our community leaders who need more allies in our state government. As your state senator, I will do the hard-work work of building consensus to develop and execute meaningful and measurable solutions to combat this horrible epidemic.
For me, this fight is personal.
Please don't delay in seeking help if you or someone you love is struggling with addiction. This is not something you should try and solve on your own. I am eager to refer you to some local organizations, including Live4Lali, who can help you.
It is no secret that for the last few decades, lawmakers in Springfield have brought Illinois' financial condition to a breaking point.
It is also no secret that we have arrived at this point because many of those same lawmakers, like my opponent Senator Julie Morrison, lack the will and competency necessary to solve our state's most pressing challenges. As debt and pensions crowd out our funding priorities, my opponent offers up no comprehensive plan for repair - just bleak acceptance to a gradual decline. Our most vulnerable people in this state deserve better.
As former chairman of the Board at Bernie's Book Bank, I have had the opportunity to lead an effort that is increasing book ownership among at-risk infants, toddlers, and school-aged children across Chicagoland.
The opportunity to serve this wonderful organization has left a lasting impact on how my family and I view the role and responsibility we all play in looking out for our fellow citizens.
While Bernie's is a charity that has been fortunate enough to be funded entirely by private contributions, I cannot begin to imagine what it would feel like to consider closing our doors due to the lack of adequate state funding.
With this in mind, I firmly believe that one of our state government's core responsibilities is to provide a strong and dependable social safety net that helps move people forward. Right now, under the leadership of Mike Madigan and Julie Morrison, our funding priorities are increasingly crowded out by debt payments and pension obligations.
Change Starts Right Here, with us!