Schools open on time thanks to compromise

By Keith R. Wheeler
State Representative, 50th District

As public schools throughout the Fox Valley and the State of Illinois open on-time and students return to the classroom, it’s important to recognize that this only happened because of compromise.

Earlier this summer, the possibility of schools not opening on-time and teachers not getting paid was very real, due to the long state budget impasse in Springfield.  However, on June 30, legislators came together and voted to approve a six-month stopgap budget that included funding to ensure the new school year would start without delay.

The outcry from parents and teachers would have been deafening if we had failed to do this– and justifiably so. As the father of three, including one in high school and one who just started kindergarten, I shared the concern of many other parents about the impact on our schools if the politicians in Springfield did not get their act together this summer and pass a budget compromise.

My House Republican colleagues and I stood firm in our conviction that we could not stand by and allow our kids’ education to be held hostage in the Springfield budget battle. We were determined to take K-12 education out of the political crossfire, and we did. Yet this could not have been achieved if we had not stood together and kept pressure on the Democrats who hold a firm grasp on power in the Illinois House of Representatives.

As a freshman legislator, I have found that compromise in Springfield has been far too rare. Democrats have controlled the Illinois House for all but two years since 1983; and have held a large majority in the State Senate since 2003. Consequently, they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. This explains why they have refused to allow an up-or-down vote on any of the meaningful and long-overdue reforms proposed by the Governor that would restore growth and opportunity to the Illinois economy; and make state government more efficient and accountable.

Schools across Illinois have opened on time. We can and should be thankful for that. However, we’ll be right back where we started with another budget impasse and school funding being threatened unless legislators come together this fall and enact a budget with reforms that put the interests of families and taxpayers ahead of the special interests that have dominated Springfield far too long.