The following are thoughts provided by ILGOP Chairman, Tim Schneider:
For the past few weeks, the Illinois Republican Party has led the call for Governor Pritzker to provide a responsible reopening plan for Illinois based on a regional approach. Last week, the Governor finally unveiled his “Restore Illinois” plan which splits up the state into 4 regions and allows for each to gradually open in five phases on their own timeline as they meet certain benchmarks monitored by the state’s Department of Public Health.
On its face, this seems like an encouraging development. After weeks of ignoring the call for a regional approach in line with other large states like New York and Pennsylvania, Pritzker has finally rejected his one-size-fits-all Chicago-centric response to this extraordinary crisis.
But alas, we shouldn’t be so excited. Beyond the clever marketing and promises of a regional appeal, Pritzker’s reopening plan is nothing more than a trojan horse for an Illinois economy under indefinite restrictions and ‘we the people’ governed by executive branch fiat.
The plan includes arbitrary and unexplained benchmark timelines, start dates, and a nonsensical progression of business openings. The plan also contains no oversight or accountability as the Governor and Democrat legislative leaders refuse to hold public hearings on the reopen plan, so lawmakers can have their constituents voices heard and consulted. With this plan, Illinois is essentially ruled unilaterally by one man for the foreseeable future.
Let’s talk about timelines. All other states and the federal government have published reopening plans that utilize the CDC recommended 14-day period between reopening phases. Inexplicably, Illinois doubles that standard to 28 days with the clock starting on May 1st.
Because all regions of Illinois are currently in Phase 2, the earliest a mom-and-pop restaurant could open their doors or the soonest a working mother can have her child in daycare is July 1st (Phase 4). Even if not one new COVID-19 case in a particular region is reported ever again, there can be no weddings or sporting events with over 50 people in attendance until we have a vaccine (Phase 5). Say goodbye to high school football and friday nights at the bingo hall for months, or even years.
Perhaps worst of all, Pritzker continues to pick winners and losers during this economic crisis based on his political whims and alleged yet unexplained scientific data. Pot shops and liquor stores have been open indefinitely for months with lines out the door, but a local bar cannot open until July 1st at the very earliest. Illinoisans can go to Walmart to buy furniture, clothing, or sporting supplies right now, but they can’t peruse the locally-owned furniture store, retailer, or sporting goods store for another six weeks.
Pritzker’s phases also don’t line up with reality. Where will the manufacturers and hairdressers opened in Phase 3 take their kids when childcare facilities and summer school programs are shut down until Phase 4?
The idea of a regional approach advocated for by Republican leaders was to offer the ability for lesser populated areas of the state like downstate regions of Illinois to have a different plan than Chicago. Instead, the Pritzker plan uses the idea of splitting up Illinois into four regions as cover for putting in place onerous standards and benchmark timelines that, regardless of region, will mean Illinois is economically hobbled for several more months at the earliest.
Illinois was facing a slew of challenges even before the global pandemic – busted budgets, hundreds of millions in unfunded liabilities, and taxpayers fleeing the state in droves. An economic meltdown the size of which we are currently experiencing is the last thing we needed. But the plan put forward by the Governor will make the suffering needlessly worse.
In two months, an Illinois drowning under abnormally onerous standards and benchmark criteria while all of our neighboring states have their economies up and running is a catastrophe we cannot afford to let happen.
Governor Pritzker should dismantle his trojan horse and go back to the drawing board.
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