Views & Perspectives | Happy New Year — Happy 2019

RAY LAHOOD

RAY LAHOOD

My good wishes for a productive and happy 2019 and a list of important events and issues to be considered by you and others.

1. Even though we just participated in a very important November 2018 election, this spring will bring many significant local municipal elections. Some communities will be electing mayors and city councils while some communities will only elect city councils. As we saw in November, voter participation was very high as I hope it will be for local elections.

2. This month, January will bring a new administration to Springfield and Illinois. We wish Gov. J.B. Pritzker success in dealing with some very tough issues including balancing the State of Illinois budget, fixing our pension liability issues, attracting new businesses and new jobs to Illinois, fixing our infrastructure and perhaps the most important making primary, secondary and higher education No. 1 in terms of student achievement and teachers’ salaries and benefits. Gov. Pritzker will have a veto proof majority in the Illinois General Assembly. He will need to work closely with Illinois’ longest serving Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. Hopefully our local legislators who are gaining experience and seniority will have influence and play an intimate role in solving these tough issues.

3. With divided government in Washington, D.C., a Republican President, a Republican-controlled U.S. Senate and Democratically- controlled House of Representatives, bipartisanship in both Houses of Congress will have to prevail to solve our most pressing issues.

4. Infrastructure funding and a transportation program have traditionally been very bipartisan. With new leadership on the House Transportation Committee and new leaders on the Senate Committees of Transportation and Jurisdiction, there is a feeling that perhaps the Congress will work with President Trump and his administration to pass a major comprehensive transportation program and also find the funds to pay for needed repairs and reconstruction of America’s crumbling roads and bridges.

5. Congress has to fix our broken Immigration system. This becomes so critical to provide a path for citizenship to millions of immigrants living in America illegally. Also many industries such as agricultural interests, landscaping interests and building and construction trades need thousand of legal workers to do the work Americans do not want to do. We need to continue to attract foreign students to our colleges and universities. Following their education in America, they generally become outstanding citizens and contribute to our country in many positive ways.

6. With a $1 trillion debt, Congress and the Trump Administration need to address the budget crisis. Congress has not passed a budget in more than a decade. We have a huge budget and fiscal crisis in America, and Congress cannot continue to turn a blind eye to this fiscal mess.

7. The Trump Administration has negotiated a new NAFTA Agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico. The three leaders have signed the agreement and now it will be incumbent on Congress to debate the new agreement and vote to ratify. This debate will be very controversial.

8. Obviously, the Mueller investigation and report will surely be released in 2019. At this point, there are many questions to be answered. Stay tuned. 2019 should be very interesting to watch.

Our hope and wish for our elected leaders and elected officials in Illinois and Washington is to consider the best interests of the people they represent. The beginning of a new year brings a new and high level of optimism.

Ray LaHood



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