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Area state senator Chapin Rose (R-51st) has been through the pomp and ceremony surrounding the start of a legislative session four times, but said it never gets old. The most recent was when the three-term member of the Illinois House was sworn in as a state senator on Jan. 9.
“It didn’t really set in until I saw the Lincoln Challenge Academy students doing the color guard. That’s when it kind of sank in,” said Rose of last week’s ceremony.
But now it’s back to the job of tackling state budget issues.
“It was nice for about an hour-and-a-half, but now it’s back to work,” he said.
And while he admits recent legislative sessions haven’t exactly been a “cooperative process,” the senator is optimistic about the future of the state despite an $8 billion debt.
His “Rosey” view comes from the fact the legislature approved Medicaid reform in 2012 that will save the state an estimated $2.8 billion. About $1 billion of that will go to pay delinquent bills.
“It’s definitely exciting but we still need to improve the job climate and getting pensions fixed is huge,” he said.
Pension reform was not accomplished before the 97th General Assembly adjourned Jan. 8, leaving the task to this spring’s 98th General Assembly.
“Paying down bills by a billion really helps, but not if your pension bill goes up $1.2 billion,” said Rose on the need for pension reform.
As for Piatt County, Rose said he is looking forward to making the Allerton Park and Retreat Center more of a destination point for travelers from across the state and country.
“Locally the park has great people with a lot of commitment to it. And with Bob Easter as the (University of Illinois) president who knows what a gem it is, let’s come up with a long-term vision that not only maintains but also turns it into an economic development tool for the area,” said Rose.
Bruce Branham, Interim Director of the 1,500-acre park, said his plan for the facility also incorporates attributes of economic development.
“Our vision is to renovate the mansion and to add additional meting space and guest rooms. The park will also provide more cultural events, concerts and theatre as part of our long-term vision,” said Branham.