Reick: Illinois echoes ‘dance band on Titanic’
Republican Steven Reick of Harvard, who is running for state representative in District 63 that represents Woodstock, McHenry, Marengo, Union and other nearby cities and townships, recently took stock of Illinois’ spiraling fiscal fiasco with observations via a website blog post.
“There’s an old saying that bad news comes in threes,” Reick said in his recent blog post. “It’s certainly true today for Illinois.”
Reick was referring to prospects of dramatically increased health insurance rates for Illinois at year’s end according to tenets laid out by Obamacare; Illinois public school teachers’ anticipated portfolio financial losses; and the Illinois Supreme Court’s Aug. 25 ruling against allowing an independent map amendment on November’s ballot.
Regarding Illinois’ insurance profile, Reick said that the Prairie State will see increases of approximately 43 to 55 percent and scoffed at the misnomer of “affordable” in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“The biggest driver of higher costs for the ACA is the radical expansion of Medicaid,” Reick said, observing that the state's Medicaid experienced enrollment that swelled past expectations back in 2014 — the consequences of which will entail the state’s picking up an exorbitant tab beginning in 2017.
“That’s going to cost us anywhere from $375 to $400 million per year in money we don’t have,” Reick said.
Reick’s second issue is the possible diminished return on the state’s Teachers’ Retirement System, presently at 7.5 percent but projected to drop substantially. Reick had previously explained the mechanics behind this change, arguing that increases in contributions are based on assumptions of specific underfunding amounts.
“But what happens if the underfunding is two or three times greater than is reported?” Reick asked. “Let’s just say that while such a move would reflect economic reality, that horse left the barn years ago.”
“Most of my clients are pilots for United Airlines, and I know firsthand what it looks like when a pension plan explodes, and it’s not pretty,” Reick said. “The same thing’s happening here, only the numbers are bigger and you’re going to be left holding the bag.”
Lastly, Reick pointed to the state Supreme Court’s decision on the independent map amendment movement, ruling against the initiative in a partisan 4-3 decision that ultimately concurred with a Cook County Circuit Court judge’s initial decision.
“(The) court ruled that Illinois politicians could continue to choose their voters, rather than the other way around,” Reick said. “It also shows that the rot and corruption that has infected the legislature for so long has crept to the judicial branch.”
Majority Democratic justices sided with the lower court judge, saying that the reform group’s plan to involve another state officer violated the Illinois Constitution. The bipartisan Independent Map Amendment group had collected almost 600,000 Illinois voter signatures in their second attempt at letting voters decide whether they wanted an independent commission to draw Illinois’ district boundaries rather than political party leaders.
In his blog, Reick quoted the dissenting opinion of Justice Robert Thomas, a Republican who has served on the Illinois Supreme Court since December 2000.
“The Illinois Constitution is meant to prevent tyranny, not to enshrine it,” Thomas wrote. “Today a muzzle has been placed on the people of this state and their voices supplanted with judicial fiat. The whimper you hear is democracy stifled.”
Disillusioned with progress in the chambers of Springfield, Reick also compared his own Republican caucus to “the dance band on the Titanic,” not only referring to the real-life tragedy of the Titanic striking, but also referencing pop culture in the form of a song written and sung by Harry Chapin — even providing a link to the music on his blog.
"Well they soon used up all of the lifeboats, but there were a lot of us left on board/I heard the drummer saying, 'Boys just keep playing, now we’re doing this gig for the Lord,'" the song lyrics said in part. “…they say that Nero fiddled while Rome burned up/Well I'll be strumming as the ship goes down.”
Reick’s decision to run was grounded in public pension reform from the start, along with tax and education platforms. He is pro-life, opposes same-sex marriage and supports concealed-carry gun laws.
Reick received his bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Illinois and both his master's degree in taxation and his law degree from the University of Georgia. Born and raised in Kankakee, he has operated his own law practice, focusing on tax representation and real estate.
Having earned endorsements from the Chicago Tribune and The Northwest Herald following his March primary win against Jeffery Lichte, Reick is set to face off against Democratic challenger John Bartman in November’s election. Bartman replaced incumbent state Rep. Jack Franks after the primary when Franks dropped out of the race.