McHenry, IL. – State Sen. Craig Wilcox (R-McHenry) said the Governor’s five-step phased-in plan to reopen Illinois falls short in many ways, ignores Democracy, and raises questions that need to be answered to ensure transparency and accountability.
“I understand the Governor’s position as the chief executive officer of the state, but we have a democratic republic, a representative government made up of three distinct but equal branches of government, a process which is being ignored,” said Wilcox. “His plan may have been crafted with input from state agencies and experts, but it is a plan created outside of the Democratic process that belongs to the citizens of Illinois.”
Governor Pritzker announced his plan on Monday, May 5. It’s a five-step plan based on regional healthcare availability and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted different regions of the state. However, a full reopening of Illinois at the level that existed prior to the pandemic would not occur unless there is ‘a vaccine or highly effective treatment widely available or the elimination of any new cases over a sustained period,’ according to a Pritzker press release.
“The people are not being heard. Their Senators and Representatives have been kept away from the active responsibility for governance,” said Wilcox. “There have been no public hearings on the dictates coming from the Governor’s office, and that means no public testimony during legislative committee hearings to discuss the details about his plans and the potential impact of his decisions.”
Sen. Wilcox said important questions must be asked and answered:
- Why a 28-day window before moving between phases, while surrounding and similar states use the 14-day recommendation from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Al lergy and Infectious Diseases?
- Although the Governor has moved away from his ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, why does his plan divide the state into just four regions instead of utilizing the well-established and more responsive 11 Emergency Medical Services regions?
- Will positive tests from nursing homes be counted in the data for the regions? If so, such congregate settings are likely to have a much higher spread, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the community spread is any higher for that region. Those tests should be discounted in the data that supposedly drives the reopening.
“The Governor doesn’t share all of the blame for the inadequate response to the pandemic,” said Wilcox. “The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House could have, but have not called us back to the Capitol to exercise our responsibilities as duly-elected representatives of the people. The citizens of Illinois deserve to be heard through the legislative committee process, and perhaps regional public hearings as we have done for other serious issues. Unfortunately, the legislative leaders have not abided by their oath of office, by choice.”
Sen. Wilcox said in addition to the issues surrounding the pandemic, there is a state budget to pass in addition to other critical issues that could impact our recovery such as, regulatory relief for struggling businesses and government entities, identifying burdensome healthcare regulations, and issues impacting citizens with disabilities, and concerns about mental health, domestic abuse and child abuse where few mandated reporters are no longer seeing the victims often enough. He suggests that if the General Assembly can’t meet in person, other arrangements such as meeting virtually should be considered to maintain the legitimacy of state government.
“While I support necessary safety precautions to protect the citizens of this state, I am concerned about the limited return to normalcy and the impact it is having on the lives of millions of Illinoisans, said Wilcox. “The Governor’s plan is nothing more than a nine-month stay-at-home order imposing restrictions on our Liberty, and violating the text and spirit of the Constitution. Most importantly, our citizens’ questions and concerns are not being adequately addressed. The attitude seems to be, ‘be quiet and do as you’re told.’”