What I am learning while listening


I thought it would make sense both for my own good and to gather your feedback to occasionally share some things that stick out from my travels around the state. Please excuse the typos or lack of formality as I’m normally logging this stuff on my ipad in-between events and phone calls.
Here’s what’s top of mind after traveling a couple weeks.

  1. Our Party leaders are not beat down and weary over our losing streak in Illinois. I’m encouraged by that. Frankly I was a little concerned I’d find a defeatist attitude had set in. Not the case. They recognize the importance of returning a two party system to Illinois and are willing to work harder than ever to do just that. I like that, and I’m encouraged by that.
  2. The media and career politicians underestimate the power of the average person. People understand we have a crisis. Not just a jobs crisis—a crisis of leadership. And career politicians in both parties are to blame. Nearly everyone seems to get that.
  3. At a round table in Charleston, a businessman told me about excessive paperwork and burdensome regulations hurting small businesses. Illinois’ business climate ranks 41st in the United States. We need a business friendly environment that encourages job creators to invest in their companies. I am going to start studying what I could quickly do to move us way up the ranks for our business climate.
  4. There’s a lot of concern over our pension system. A bad pension system doesn’t just jeopardize retirement benefits for retirees—it jeopardizes the fiscal health of our state. It means lower credit ratings, more borrowing, worse schools, worse roads… and it’ll ultimately mean career politicians coming back to us asking for more taxes. That’s what is happening now and without dramatic change it will only get worse. And while I’m disappointed over the state of our current pension mess, I am optimistic that it can be fixed because the first step is recognizing there is a huge problem – and people recognize that there is a huge problem.
  5. I’m having a great time hearing from people. There’s such a passion, and from a lot of walks of life, from people who are fed up with the dire state of our state. They want a better life not just for themselves—but for their children and grandchildren. I love that. And Illinois needs that kind of active participation if we are going to tackle these issues.

I hope you’ll stay in touch with me and check back here for more as I continue to update our travels… So far I’ve made Listening Tour stops in Cumberland, Coles, DuPage, Effingham, Mason, McDonough, Shelby, Tazewell, and Washington counties and South Holland and Winnetka. Lots more to come.