Dist. 31 GOP hopeful Amrozowicz targets 'career politicians' in Springfield
Mike Amrozowicz, a Republican running for the Dist. 31 state Senate seat in Lake County against incumbent Democrat Melinda Bush, is not enthusiastic about Sen. Andy Manar’s (D-Dist. 48) education funding bill, which was passed in the Illinois Senate last week.
Amrozowicz especially does not appreciate the proposal’s focus on Chicago schools.
“I am not crazy about it; I don’t like it,” Amrozowicz said to the Lake County Gazette. “Go through the particulars of the bill, and you can see certain parts…it’s all political pay-off to Chicago. Chicago has to reform itself. We can’t be bailing them out all the time, and that’s the key. We need reform the way we do things here. Reform our system and invest in our students here in our district.”
Amrozowicz believes that the people of Illinois are not told the truth about where their money is going. Many believe their taxes go straight to their local schools, but it is funneled elsewhere, Amrozowicz said. He has spoken to many constituents, and many of them are surprised to learn that their district taxes are going to Chicago.
“As I go through the district, most people don’t even realize that happens,” Amrozowicz said. “They think all their money is going to their schools. They are complaining enough about high property taxes and then, when they find out that this money they are paying is going to other school districts in Chicago, it really ticks them off.”
Amrozowicz said the education funding proposal doesn’t fix the overall problem in Springfield; it just delays the solution further and further.
“Some would benefit, but at a cost to other districts. So some would gain, and some would lose,” Amrozowicz said. “But the way to fix things isn’t to take a broken system and just keep trying to shuffle money all over ... there has to be a lot more structural reform in how we do business here in Illinois.”
Amrozowicz suggests that Springfield consider doing a complete and thorough audit of its spending and programs.
“We could use a forensic audit,” Amrozowicz said. “There is just so much wasteful spending throughout Illinois. A lot of bureaucracy. A lot of political pay-off jobs over the years. Just clean house. Then prioritize our funding to go into our schools and not have one community be continually getting robbed to pay off the balance of books in another county.”
Amrozowicz said a symptom of the waste in Springfield was a report by the Civic Federation that said the state spent $900 million on late fees and penalties due to failing to pay its bills on time. Amrozowicz said this is just part of the overall problem in the capital.
“Well, that’s what we talked about last week; it’s all systemic,” Amrozowicz said. “The issue is systemic, not just one particular line item and how that is analyzed. It’s a systemic issue coming down to over-spending, not balancing our budget, kicking the deficit into subsequent years and creating just a mess where we can’t pay our bills, which leads to having a horrible bond rating. So not only do we have to borrow money to maintain our services, we have to do it at the worst possible interest rate in the nation: 12 percent. And when we can pay, we’re incurring large penalties. How many school districts can use $900 million right now?”
Amrozowicz said it is the entrenched legislative leadership that has failed the state.
“Our problem is, going back to the systemic problem we have, we have career politicians who have been there (in Springfield) forever, predominately the Madigan and Cullerton Democrats.”
To fix this, Amrozowicz wants Springfield to vote on term limits, which Madigan has refused to do. Like many of his campaigning peers, Amrozowicz believes term limits will control political interests and bring new organic ideas. Amrozowicz himself will limit his service if he is elected.
“I have a self-imposed term limit of 10 years,” Amrozowicz said. “I tell everybody I talk to ‘I am still in the phone book -- you know where to find me, so if you see me try to push past that 10 years, come and get me.’ People should go to Springfield with the spirit of being a citizen statesperson and then get out of there.”
Amrozowicz elaborates further in response to critics of term limits.
“I’ll take the term-limit thing a step further. People will tell me, ‘We have good people. There is a term limit set up; it is called an election.’ And my response is, ‘Well, how well has that been working for us?’’
Amrozowicz said the current system hasn’t worked for two reasons. One, the career politicians gerrymander all of the district boundaries to maintain their stronghold. And secondly, the scads of money involved in politics. This, in combination with the steady bombardment of issues and problems facing the nation, has left constituents in a state of disorientation.
“Right now, we have an electorate that is very busy,” Amrozowicz said. “It’s hard for them to stay on top of all these issues everywhere, so a lot of career politicians can pass a little bill here and there and give themselves some accolades, and they maintain their position, which is why we never had any real substantive legislation that leads to a balanced budget and good government here in Illinois.”
His message for change has not changed. People have said to him that he has been saying the same thing the past two months, but he responds by stating messages shouldn’t change. The message should be steadfast, and politicians should honor their messages. That is what serving the people means for Amrozowicz.
“The systemic issues we have here in Illinois have to be addressed with courage and with determination,” Amrozowicz said.
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