Reboot Illinois is talking to 22 new Illinois legislators about what they hope to accomplish during their time in office, what they love about Illinois and what kinds of things they do when not making new laws.
Here is an edited version of our conversation with Rep. Mark Batinick, a Republican from the state's 97th district including Plainfield and surrounding areas. He serves on the Higher Education Appropriations Committee, the Veterans' Affairs Committee, the Elementary and Secondary Education School Curriculum Policies Committee and others.
He is a commercial real estate broker who owns his own business. He wants to champion reform for higher education spending, and believes a "poor business environment" is contributing to Illinois' recent financial and economic problems.
Batinick graduated from the University of Illinois in 1992 with a degree in business education. He founded the Will County Liberty Club and served on the Plainfield and Oswego chambers of commerce. He and his wife have five children.
Reboot Illinois: What is the number one thing you hope to accomplish during your time in the General Assembly? How will you do it?
Rep. Batinick: Balancing the budget without raising taxes. There are a lot of important things, but the budget is the number one thing. It affects everything else. Part of that is I just want to work to make government more efficient. $20 million spent well is better than $40 million spent poorly. We have an efficiency problem, not revenue problem.
Along with the budget, the more you do to create a more vibrant jobs climate also helps the budget. With more people working, the less stress is on social services and it increases the revenue side, the more money into our coffers. We need to focus on jobs. [Unemployment] hurts the revenue side and hurts the expense side.
You said that you wanted to focus mostly on the budget. What's your plan for helping get that done?
I know the governor is concerned and many business people are concerned about how expensive it is to have to pay workman's comp costs in Illinois and how that affects jobs. Well, there's another side to that, and that's that one of the biggest employers in the state is government. And it costs our municipalities a lot of money and it costs our state a lot of money to ensure their employees because of the inefficient system we have in Illinois for workman's' compensation. Just doing common-sense changes to things like that, would not only help the business climate, but would also help the budgets of both the state and any government entity in the state that employs somebody. It's hard to estimate the indirect savings, but it could be up to a billion dollars in indirect savings in local governments, just to have average workman's compensation costs.
The more you do to create a more vibrant jobs climate helps the budget two ways. The more people you got working, the less stress you have on social services, which decreases the need for the budget, but then just it also increases the revenue side. The decrease of the number of people working in Illinois, it's hurt us two ways and we need to reverse that trend.
Check out more of Reboot Illinois' conversation with Batinick, including what he thinks the biggest problem facing the state is. Hint: It's pensions or the budget.
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