The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

April 5, 2013

Forum addresses state issues

By Samantha Pidde Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — MOUNT CARROLL, Ill. — Illinois State Sen. Tim Bivins and Rep. Jim Sacia agreed the state of Illinois is facing problems during a town hall meeting held Thursday at the West Carroll Middle School.

More than 100 parents, teachers and residents came out to the forum organized and moderated by citizen Julie Bickelhaupt. Bivins and Sacia answered questions about the state of education in Illinois from a panel, as well as members of the audience.

“We are very fortunate to have representatives in our district who care enough to attend the meeting and answer the hard questions and help us find solutions,” Bickelhaupt said.

Questions were raised on whether the school district would receive the same rate for foundation levels in general state aid, whether unfunded mandates will continue and when the district will see the money it is still owed by the state. Sacia and Bivins said they honestly could not say for sure.

Bivins told the audience that the governor currently plans a 3.5 percent budget cut for general state aid, as well as reductions in transportation funds for education. However, he added they often receive budget amendments with as little as two hours before the end of the session.

“There isn’t a bank in the world that would loan this state money. We are a dead-beat organization if there ever was one,” Sacia said.

Bivins and Sacia agreed that Illinois’ biggest problem is the mismanagement of funds. Bivins said the state has plenty of money to fund education. The problem, according to him, is that the money is not spent wisely.

Sacia felt the biggest problem Illinois faces is the fraudulent practices. He said if they could cut the fraud from the state of Illinois, town hall meetings like this one would not be needed. He added it is a problem with a mind set where some people believe they deserve funds.

While he said he does want to help those who truly need the program, Sacia said Illinois is becoming too much of a welfare state.

Bivins and Sacia said it is their job to fight for the district and that is what they want to do.

“But when you’re one of 118 state reps or 177 legislators, we don’t always get our way,” Sactia said.

When asked what people can do in their area to make a difference, both legislators said the people were doing it by having such an event. Bivins said people need to get involved and contact their representatives.