Phillips contends budget vote was about helping district, 'friends'
Rep. Reggie Phillips (R-Charleston) is challenging critics of his vote for the new Illinois budget to tell him what they would have done.
“I have two community colleges and they’ve both laid off folks,” Phillips told Dan Proft and guest host Kristen McQueary on "Chicago’s Morning Answer" radio show recently. “Eastern Illinois University laid off over 400 people.”
Proft is a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
Phillips was one of 15 Republicans who voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's vetoes of the measures in the state budget, which subsequently was enacted. Many in the GOP have attacked the plan for imposing a 32 percent income tax hike without substantial reforms.
Phillips said he saw the situation in his district continue to worsen as the budget impasse went on, and he had to make a tough choice.
“We border Indiana State University in Terre Haute," he said. "They’ve got a video out now boasting about how they’re taking another 700-plus students from my district and surrounding districts."
Phillips also said many storefronts closed during the impasse. For example, dentists who relied on state funding in Lawrenceville were starting to reach out to him, asking his help to save their business.
“One dentist was owed $100,000, and she said if we can’t get some funding, she was ready to close her doors, pack up and move out,” Phillips said.
Lawrenceville doesn’t have many dentists, so losing even one would have a substantial impact on the community, Phillips conntended.
“I hate to see them being owed so much money that they can’t stay in business,” he said.
Phillips also asserted that many towns were acting as a bank for Illinois government by paying utilities that were meant to be paid by the state, like water and sewer at the prison.
More Republicans came on board with the budget even though they didn't like the tax increase, either, Phillips said.
“I am not going to watch Eastern Illinois University or Charleston, Illinois, pack up and lose their businesses or lose their houses over this fiscal impasse," Phillips said. "These are my friends."