Voters in the race for 72nd District state representative will find two very different choices on their Nov. 6 ballot.
Republican Neil Anderson, a Moline firefighter and political newcomer, faces incumbent state Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, who has served since 2003 and has been easily re-elected three times. Mr. Verschoore also told us that, contrary to rumors, he intends to serve out the full term. Mr. nderson said he will limit himself to eight years or four terms. Both have run well-organized, clean campaigns though they differ significantly on many issues, particularly money matters.
Mr. Verschoore points to a number of votes he has made to ease pressure on state finances. He supported the temporary income tax increase, and believes it should be allowed to expire in 2014. He believes a combination of growth, reform, education investment and budget cuts is the most effective path to balancing the budget.
Mr. Anderson has signed the Save Illinois Taxpayers Pledge crafted by the For the Good of Illinois political action committee. It calls for freezing local property taxes in Illinois for three years, immediately repealing the 2011 state income and corporate tax increases, and a forensic audit of the state.
Mr. Anderson said Illinois has a corruption problem and the cost of the audit would be trivial compared to the savings it would find. Mr. Verschoore doesn't support a forensic audit without some idea of what investigators should be looking for. Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland said it would take 10 years and at least $150 million to conduct one, he said. He's right, it's a costly gamble without any certain reward.
Though we believe the temporary income tax hike should be allowed to sunset on schedule, unless significant cuts or other money-saving reforms are made, losing that revenue now would only exacerbate Illinois' current untenable financial position. Additionally, a blanket property tax freeze could cripple counties, cities and schools. Their largest expenses are employees and many have already negotiated multi-year union contracts. A property tax freeze could result in significant layoffs and/or loss of services. Mr. Anderson's own experience with efforts to privatize the Moline ambulance service illustrate why such choices must be made at the local level, not in Springfield.
There are, of course, decisions that must be made in the Statehouse which have a direct and lasting impact on a legislator's local community and that is where Mr. Verschoore has shone. Amid the raucous, anything-goes atmosphere in Springfield, he has quietly compiled an impressive list of accomplishments that includes an Amtrak stop, new and better roads, money for local schools and, the crown jewel, Western Illinois University Quad Cities Riverfront Campus.
Mr. Anderson doesn't much resemble the candidate we first met in the Republican primary. He has learned on the run and developed an impressive grasp of the issues. One wonders, however, how effective a new and inexperienced lawmaker of the minority party could be in representing the 72nd District in Springfield.
With tough decisions to be made, capital improvement funds remaining to be doled out, and the Democrats likely retaining control, we believe the district needs Mr. Verschoore's steady hand in Springfield. He is recommended.
Today is Wednesday, Dec. 11, the 345th day of 2013. There are 20 days left in the year. 1863 — 150 years ago: The message of Abraham Lincoln, read in congress yesterday, is published in full in our paper today, with a new proclamation relating the terms upon which states can return to the union. 1888 — 125 years ago: An appropriation has been made by congress for the improvement of the upper Mississippi River with $200,000 set aside for the portion of the river between Keokuk and the mouth of the Illinois River. 1913 — 100 years ago: Work of remodeling First Swedish Lutheran Church at 4th Avenue and 14th Street was nearly completed. 1938 — 75 years ago: An unexplained outbreak of tularemia (rabbit fever) in the state has Illinois public health officials puzzled. Ten persons have died, and 243 are officially reported ill with the infection. 1963 — 50 years ago: A dramatic, multi-million dollar riverfront improvement project for the downtown area of Rock Island was unveiled at a meeting of 200 civic leaders at noon today. 1988 — 25 years ago: For several supporters of the Dispatch Goodfellow/Argus Santa program their donation is a year long project. Emma Pugh and Anne Persinger spent a good part of their spare time this year knitting forty pairs of mittens and slippers.