With the spring legislative session wrapped up, area lawmakers are getting back into their districts after the late night passing of the budget last weekend.
Representative Dan Swanson says that the House is not good at time management when it comes to getting work done, adding that the budget was an example of work getting done in the last minute with little time for review.
Swanson, a Republican, tells WGIL that he saw more of a bi-partisan effort between Senate and House leadership along with Governor J.B. Pritzker than he did under the previous governor.
“Our leader, Leader Durkin, on the last three days of session was constantly in meetings with [House Speaker] Madigan, Governor Pritzker, and [Senate President] Cullerton quite regularly. We did not have that with our own governor, Governor Rauner.”
Swanson said that there was a lot of “wheeling-and-dealing” behind the scenes between the leaders, which he called a “good thing.”
On the topic of the budget, Swanson says there were a lot of positives to be found.
Specifically, he points to increases in education – both for school districts and higher education – as well as the backlog of old debt.
“We’ve talked about fully funding and paying down the debt. We’ve made a total payment on our backlog of bills and also made a commitment to the pension fund this year. So, that’s good news.”
Swanson tells WGIL that while there are plenty of positives, the budget contained a lot of negatives as well.
An example he gives is the increase in the gas tax will have an impact on families in rural communities.
Additionally, some legislation was hidden within the 1,500-page budget documents – including the legislative pay raises, which Swanson says he would rather see go to nurses than legislators.
Some other highlights of the spring session, Swanson was proud of legislation of his own that was passed. Including, loosening the substitute teacher certifications, new veterans bills, and new Lyme disease legislation.
WGIL will continue to wrap up the legislative session with interviews with Senator Chuck Weaver Wednesday night on Galesburg’s Evening News and Senator Jil Tracy Thursday.