PROPOSES STATEWIDE ‘ZOMBIE PREPAREDNESS MONTH’
Illinois Policy Institute
In one of the first proposals of the new
General Assembly, state Rep. Chris Welch, D-Westchester, proposed making
October 2017 “zombie preparedness month.”
Illinoisans are facing a fiscal emergency. Homeowners are saddled with the
nation’s highest property taxes, job creators have to navigate an uncompetitive
workers’ compensation system, not to mention the worst pension crisis in the
nation, and billions in unpaid bills. But politicians are unwilling to confront
those challenges, even as residents continue fleeing for other states as a
At least one Springfield lawmaker, though, wants Illinoisans to brace themselves
for another threat: Zombies.
On Jan. 12, state Rep. Chris Welch, D-Westchester, filed House Resolution 0030,
which would designate October 2017 as “Zombie Preparedness Month,” urging
“Illinoisans to educate themselves about natural disasters and take steps to
create a stockpile of food, water and other emergency supplies that can last up
to 72 hours.”
The language in this bill demonstrates insensitivity and a lack of seriousness
on the part of lawmakers.
The state has seen some devastating natural disasters in recent years, such as
tornados that injured hundreds and destroyed homes and businesses in the
Washington and Rochelle, Ill. areas in 2013 and 2015, respectively. Comparing
events like that to a fictitious zombie threat shows the severe disconnect
between the priorities of politicians and the concerns of regular Illinoisans.
But that’s not surprising, given that lawmakers are ignoring the real, fiscal
emergencies Illinoisans are facing right now.
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Illinois lost 114,000 people to domestic migration from July
2015-July 2016, causing a population dip of nearly 38,000 people.
And the reasons cited are frequently the same. A Paul Simon Public
Policy Institute poll from October 2016 found that nearly half of
registered voters in the state would leave Illinois if they could,
with high taxes being the primary reason.
The financial realities the state faces are critical, with
Illinois’ credit ratings floating just above junk-rated status. Not
only are more people fleeing Illinois, but those leaving tend to
earn more than those left behind. The continued loss of taxpayers
only adds to the dysfunction in Springfield, where lawmakers haven’t
passed a balanced budget in 16 years. The most recent budget
proposal in the General Assembly – crafted with bipartisan support
in the Senate – does little to reform the state, while increasing
the burden on taxpayers already facing the fifth-highest overall
rates in the nation.
The newly inaugurated General Assembly should come forward with
fresh ideas to truly balance the budget and enact structural reforms
to grow the state.
Ideas like “zombie preparedness month” don’t do much to instill
confidence in lawmakers’ ability to save the state. Welch is right
that Illinoisans are facing an emergency. But ideas like a true
property tax freeze and overhauling the state’s workers’
compensation system would be the right start to remedy it.
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