From Arlington Heights to Northbrook, and from Deerfield to Lake Forest, all of our communities have had to pay the steep price of years of fiscal mismanagement by Illinois' legislative leaders.
And if there is any one issue that has come up over the course of this campaign that 29th district families are most concerned about, it is the financial squeeze being exerted on them by an out of control property tax system.
A property tax system exacerbated by the fact that the state of Illinois makes, according to national averages, one of the lowest contributions (28%) to the adequate funding of local school districts. Across the country, state's make an average 44% contribution.
Because of Illinois' dramatically underfunded pension systems (my pension plan is here), Springfield has made diminishing contributions to school district budgets across the state. And local governments, in turn, have responded by dramatically increasing property taxes.
This is the existential crisis facing Illinois' short and long term economic vitality.
If more and more families determine that their tax burden is untenable, as so many already have, they will pick up shop and vote with their feet. They have and will continue to leave our communities.
The net result will be the mass exodus of an entire generation of innovators, educators, and students that our state simply cannot afford.
"But Barrett," you'll say, "we already know all of that, so what's the solution?"
Well we know that my opponent, who has authored legislation that would have enabled school districts in Highland Park and Highwood to pass some of the largest property tax hikes in recent memory and even cast supporters of any property tax freeze initiatives as uninformed, has not demonstrated a serious commitment to tackling these challenges.
We also know that playing the blame game isn't going to get us very far either.
The only way we can change the decisions being made in Springfield is by changing the people we send there.
We need leaders who understand the burden that so many Illinois families have had to shoulder for too long.
We need leaders who will go down to Springfield and hold the line against unbalanced budgets, unsustainable tax hikes and more of this "kick the can down the road" mentality that is draining Illinois of it's potential.
By working with partners across the aisle to reorient our spending priorities and to get our pension system back, as I have committed to do, I know that I can be that strong advocate for our community that we so desperately need.