Today's keynote speaker was John Tillman, Chairman and CEO of the non-partisan Illinois Policy Institute, whose talk focused on the "amazingly stupid" tax hike recently slammed through the Illinois General Assembly by a lame duck legislature in the final hours of the last session.
Before Tillman spoke, however, things got started with Federation President Sandy Stuart, below, welcoming the crowd, and then introducing State Representative Sandy Cole to lead the pledge of allegiance.
Next, new Lake County Board Chairman David Stolman (below) discussed the political and economic landscape in Lake County, which discussion was rather overshadowed by the very recent news that Abbott Laboratories, one of the largest employers in Lake County, was cutting more than 1000 Illinois jobs (most of them here in Lake), which is going to have a profound impact on the county.
John Tillman then gave his presentation, which focused on the state economic landscape and the competition we face from adjacent states like Wisconsin and Indiana (recently, even New Jersey has gotten into the act). Tillman noted that Illinois ranks near the bottom of states in job creation and near the top of states where people and jobs are leaving. The new gigantic tax hike has compounded the problem, and the real irony is, it is only a temporary 'fix', if that; Tillman clearly believes that the budget problem in Illinois simply cannot be fixed without serious public pension reform.
Unlike many people and institutions, the Illinois Policy Institute actually has a detailed budget plan that calls for freezing spending and cutting $5 billion from the budget -- all without, says Tillman, any borrowing and without cutting the most vital of government programs. Tillman also noted that now that the lame duck session is over, a majority of members in both of the state houses have indicated their objection to the tax hike -- and Tillman thinks that this issue, while clearly a huge problem, has galvanized many people into taking action. At the end of the day, workers, entrepreneurs and business owners are going to have to organize to take on the entrenched interests of the public employee unions to demand serious pension reform and rework the way this state does business. The IPI is collection signatures for an online petition to support repeal of the tax hike, and signatures are adding up quickly.
The breakfast was quite a success, and many local elected officials and Federation supporters attended, and were introduced by Lake County Central Committee Chairman Bob Cook. Pictured below are former State Senate Candidate Keith Gray, former state rep candidate Dan Sugrue, and Congressman Robert Dold, all listening intently to Tillman's presentation.
For more information on how to join the Lake County Republican Federation Leadership Council, visit their website here.