Dale Fowler can't wrap his fingers around the policies in Springfield
Harrisburg Mayor Dale Fowler, who is running for state Senate in District 59, had a hard time comprehending why a grossly unbalanced budget proposed by House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-District 22) passed the Illinois House in the first place earlier this year.
The proposal, which ultimately was rejected in the Senate, was vehemently opposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, who insisted that the plan was underfunded by more than $7 billion and would allegedly delay bill payments by almost nine months.
“Isn’t that just embarrassing and appalling?” Fowler said. “I’m just really having a hard time wrapping my fingers around their (Madigan) initiatives here. Of course, I’ve had a hard time wrapping my fingers around the last decade. I guess that’s why I am willing to step in to this catastrophic time period we are going through. Enough is enough.”
Fowler said he believes that things are different in Southern Illinois, the region he wants to represent, if he gets elected.
Compared to Chicago, Southern Illinois is more compassionate, he maintained.
“I just do not understand (politicians in Springfield)," Fowler said. "I guess that’s one thing that makes us special here in Southern Illinois. Being separated from Chicago, we are like our own state down here. We’re smaller demographically, of course, and our people are much more engrossed with each other. Southern Illinois people, we really care about each other, we care about the business climate, we care about education, and we care about health care. We take care of each other in our difficult times. I think that is what separates Southern Illinois from Chicago. That’s the sad part...We’re almost a different world down here.”
Among the differences, Fowler said, is Harrisburg’s willingness to be business friendly. He asserted that the town has succeeded in attracting and keeping businesses, a contrast to the rest of the state where businesses are leaving because of high property taxes. Fowler said he wants to change that if he gets elected.
“This is something that I really wrap my fingers around,” he said. “I hope I have the opportunity to represent the business people in Springfield after November. It’s no wonder that we can’t build new businesses in Illinois. It’s no wonder that all these businesses are leaving.”
In a survey done by Chief Executive Magazine, Illinois was ranked as the worst state in the Midwest for business. It also ranks third in the nation in business unfriendliness.
“This has all been building up over the last decade or so,” Fowler said. “This didn’t happen over night. And the Chicago machine has known this for over a decade, but they never did anything about it other than raising taxes. Oh, let’s raise taxes again. Oh, let’s raise them by another $7 billion; let’s not make our payment on time. Let’s incur $900 million in late fees by not paying our bills on time.”
Fowler again recounted the situation of a business associate who chose to expand his company, but was faced with a property tax increase of almost 700 percent.
“Here we have a successful business that decided that they’re going to go out and invest hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in expansions and renovations, which is going to create more jobs, create more sales tax, which is going to bring more people into our community (who) are in turn (are) going to buy more fuel and eat at our restaurants,” he said. “The list goes on and on. And then ‘hello, thank you for your business but, oh by the way we are going to raise your property taxes by over 700 percent. But thank you for investing for the state of Illinois.’ ”
Fowler said that this is not only scaring businesses from investing in Illinois, but families and voters.
“More people are going to continue to leave our state,” he said, “Maybe he (Madigan) wants to have the state to himself. Maybe this whole state is going to be his own playground one day because he will be the only one left.”
He pointed out that the estimated 22,000 people who left Illinois between 2014 and 2015 not only affected the population, but everything else.
“Over 22,000, and what do they leave with?” he asked. “They left with their children. Which means that they moved them out of schools. Which means what to school districts? Less revenue, right? They also take their billfolds and they take their purse. They take their business, whatever it may be. It’s just a total embarrassment. Unprecedented embarrassment.”
Fowler also noted that, because of the current hostile property taxes, retirees are leaving the state.
“As people retire from their career, guess what they are doing?" he asked. "It’s not only families that are leaving. Retirees are leaving because they are on maybe a more stringent budget. So they are asking themselves why should we live in Illinois? Let’s move to Kentucky. Let’s move to Florida."
The mayor shared an example of an acquaintance who left Southern Illinois to buy a house in Indiana because property taxes there were less than half what they were in here. This is scaring people from investing and staying in Illinois, Fowler said.
He said he believes that the Chicago politicians are not interested in serving the community, protecting the voters, preserving businesses, or keeping their promises. Instead, those in power at Springfield are only interested in protecting their power.
“That’s why I am so looking forward to people like myself (who) are stepping up to run for office (who) are doing it solely, not for the paycheck, but for the purpose of ‘enough is enough,’” Fowler said.
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Harrisburg, IL 62946