Fiscal Responsibility, Education Reform Highlight Verschoore’s Legislative Achievements

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

After the legislative session adjourned on Tuesday, state Rep. Pat Verschoore (D-Milan) reflected on some reforms and accomplishments of the spring while vowing to continue to look for more ways to make cuts and trim the cost of government.

“At the inauguration of this General Assembly, I demanded that lawmakers begin and end the year being more fiscally disciplined and move our state toward climbing its way out of the budget deficit,” said Verschoore. “Under the new budgeting process, the House set a spending cap and made a commitment not to spend more money than the state takes in. Any amount of new revenue that comes in over that cap will go toward paying down the deficit rather than going toward new programs.”

Understanding that taxpayer’s money must be protected during these difficult economic times, Verschoore worked to ensure that public money is used efficiently and effectively. He co-sponsored a resolution that set a conservative revenue estimate reflecting only realistic revenues and not hopeful speculations as had been done in past budgets. The result was a budget proposal based on significantly lower revenue estimates than the Senate and Governor’s office used. Upon passage of the resolution, the House immediately went to work in a bipartisan manner to craft a budget that cut spending in multiple areas while also ensuring vital programs are still able to function.

To make sure that the state stayed on a path of fiscal responsibility, Verschoore backed legislation that directs additional revenue above the House’s conservative estimates toward paying down the state’s debt rather than funding new programs or initiatives.

In addition to reining in state spending, Verschoore fought to protect the Second Amendment Rights of law-abiding gun owners. He sponsored legislation to allow concealed carry in the state of Illinois and will continue to fight until Illinois joins the other 49 states in the nation in allowing law abiding citizens the right to carry concealed weapons for their own safety.

This year saw the passage of major education reforms including changes in how teachers are evaluated. Senate Bill 7, co-sponsored by Verschoore, is a bipartisan reform package that reshapes the educational system in Illinois. The measure was negotiated between legislators, teachers unions and reform groups.  Under the measure, teacher performance would be a key factor in the dismissal of teachers, teacher certification, the hiring process, and teacher tenure. The reforms prioritize that student success and teacher performance be tied together to make sure that our students are being taught by quality teachers.

Verschoore has also been working on measures that support the Quad Cities on a local level. To keep utility rates low for consumers, he sponsored legislation which adds Mid-American Energy to the Illinois Power Authority thus making sure the company has access to low-cost power and can pass savings on to customers. He has also passed legislation that expands the Quad Cities Regional Economic Development Authority to allow local officials to help control and promote economic development opportunities in the area.

“We made significant progress this year in addressing the need to control spending, protect consumers and improve education,” Verschoore said. “That being said, we have a long way to go in reforming state government and I am hopeful we can continue down the path of making positive changes that restore integrity and accountability in state government.”

Verschoore will return home now that the session has adjourned and begin meetings with local residents to discuss their thoughts and concerns. He will also continue to maintain a full-time constituent service office to help local residents’ access state services and offer ideas for new laws. For questions, to request state assistance, or to offer suggestions and comments, please contact Verschoore at (309) 558-3612.