Rep. Brian Stewart Guest Column: May 25, 2018

***Guest Column***

This past week was National Emergency Medical Services Week (EMS). Many of us cant imagine not being able to call 9-1-1 for an ambulance during an emergency. That wasnt always the case.

EMS services did not become a national priority until 1966, when President Lyndon Johnson read the report Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society, in which he learned that more people in America died in vehicle accidents in 1965 than the total number of American casualties in the Korean War.

The report started the snowball rolling. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) was founded in 1968. By 1969, the first EMS curriculum was published. The first paramedic training was developed and implemented in the early 70s. By 1972, the University of Cincinnati created the first residency program for Emergency Medicine.

It was ACEP who influenced President Gerald Ford to authorize the first National EMS week in 1974, and it was recognized every November for the next four years. It was reinstituted in October 1982. In 1992, the observance was moved to May in order to set it apart from Fire Prevention Week and has been held every May since then.

The next time you pull over for an ambulance, remember, the people inside are doing good work, work that was created to save peoples lives. Thank you to all the Emergency Medical Personnel and physicians and medical staff who make a difference for people in emergencies every day.

It was also announced this month that both Stockton and Freeport are home to 3 of the 327 designated economic development zones in Illinois. The zones were determined through an exhaustive process by Governor Rauner and the Illinois Department of Commerce as Opportunity Development Zones, and were approved by the US Treasury Department.

Opportunity Development Zones were created as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. They are a community development program designed to encourage long term investment in low-income communities. They serve as a tax incentive for investors to put unrealized capital gains into Opportunity Funds. The Opportunity Funds are used to invest into the Opportunity Zones to spur economic development and create jobs.

It was President John F. Kennedy who said, Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer but the right answer. I am excited to see how Opportunity Zones will perform. As I have detailed in the past, Illinois has focused its economic development on Chicagoland at the expense of rural communities. It is important to try common sense new approaches and transition away from our anemic economic growth model.

Currently, Illinois economic growth stagnates at 1.2% per year. Thats 60 percent less than our countrys overall economic growth. According to the Illinois Policy Institute, state and local governments owe more than $203 billion for pensions and retiree health insurance. This is more than $41,000 in retirement debt for every Illinois household.

The problem has not been getting better. In its 10th Report Rich States/Poor States, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) reported that growth in general fund revenue across the 50 United States has been outpaced by inflation and population growth. State revenues arent growing fast enough to keep pace with modest debt. As we know, Illinois debt is anything but modest, and our economic growth lags behind the nation.

The ALEC report goes on to suggest, The solution to this impasse is not more federal money, gambling revenues, or internet sales taxation. It is not income or sales tax hikes or even slashing essential government services. No, what states desperately need is a return to robust national economic growth combined with fiscal discipline on the spending side of the ledger.

I agree. As the session continues, I call on my colleagues to focus on common sense solutions that will generate economic prosperity throughout Illinois. Now is not the time for partisan politics. Our circumstances require better. Our constituents deserve better. Lets deliver better for them.

Lastly, Memorial Day is Monday May 28th. It was President Kennedy who said, As we express our gratitude we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. Thank you to all the brave men and women who gave their lives so our nation might live.

Let us honor their sacrifice, not only with our words, but also by our deeds. They are all heroes. God bless their memory. God bless their families. And God bless the United States of America.

As always, if you have any additional thoughts or ideas, you can reach me or Sally at 815-232-0774, or visit my website at and use the form to send me an e-mail.

Brian Stewart

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