Town Hall Meeting Connects Lawmakers With Their Constituents

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Despite being one of a few in a strongly promoted but poorly attended Town Hall meeting, Norma Joseph felt good about what she learned.

"There are a lot of state laws being passed and I wasn't quite sure about the state budget and how much money was given out and how much actually came back to the Rockford area," Joseph said.

State Rep. Chuck Jefferson, along with State Sen. Dave Syverson, discussed the dollars they secured for Rockford downstate. The $54 billion budget includes $2 billion in withheld pension funding, a provision which Jefferson defended and Syverson attacked.

"The people that are in the pensions are not going to suffer. They aren't going to lose any money. It's going to reform the pension system over the next 30-40 years," Jefferson said.

"The cost of making those payments back is going to be horrendous. What we have is a state government that lives beyond it means," Syverson said.

Both lawmakers did agree on $5.7 million in added funding for Rockford's school district, $78,000 for the health insurance program FamilyCare and $25,000 for the anti-violence group CeaseFire.

"What we did get is positive. The problem is we got all this borrowed money, and at some point we have to pay that back," Syverson said.

"That's fantastic for Rockford. Is it enough? We don't know but its a step in the right direction," Jefferson said.

Joseph is excited how the added District 205 dollars from Springfield can benefit for her young son.

"They may be able to offer more after school programs, and keep after school daycare, which is very important to me as a working parent. Also, I hope they keep the books for my child who likes to read. When they make cuts, it hurts the children," Joseph said.

It was a Town Hall meeting which discouraged lawmakers, but informed the few who decided to show up.