Faith in Progress

Faith in Progress

Al Sharp, Executive Director of PCG, shares his perspective on key issues of the day.

What is happening right now with the Illinois budget in Springfield is pitiful. Advocates and human services officials can do little more than fight over, and try to protect, what few scraps and breadcrumbs remain for the poor, and, increasingly, for the middle class.

If there is one thing I have believed about being a United States citizen and living in this country, it is the basic premise that all of us are innocent until proven guilty. I know that police and judges are human and make mistakes. But...

“Do you recall the story of Sodom and Gomorrah? We are told that had there been ten righteous men, the city would have been saved. For some time now, I have had the sneaking suspicion that there _were_ 10 righteous men, but their righteousness wasn’t [_relevant_]. And that, I think, is the problem with the church.” --William Sloane Coffin

Why did the Illinois General Assembly just pass a historic tax increase on individuals and corporations? Given our failures to address the state’s growing structural deficit for the past ten years, if not longer, it had no other choice. The critical question now is: “Where do we go from here?”

A constitutional amendment to limit spending is under consideration in the current "lame duck" session of the IL General Assembly. Some legislators say that we must have spending limits in order to approve a tax increase. We're talking about political cover here, not good policy. But with Illinois acknowledged as the worst state when it comes to unpaid bills, and second-worst (behind California) in pension liability, do our legislators need this kind of political self-protection just to do the right thing?

“Do you love me?” Jesus asked Peter. “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Then Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:16-17) Jesus wasn’t asking Peter to be charitable. He was telling him to give the sheep what they need. Put in the language of democracy, Jesus was speaking not of benevolence but of justice.

Some of the patients supporting the legalization of medical marijuana were weeping openly in the hallways of the Capitol yesterday when the SB 1381 did not pass the Illinois House. Our hope for victory was high.

In the next two or three weeks, Illinois could become the fifteenth state to pass legislation permitting the use of marijuana for medical purposes. We are hoping that SB 1381 will be approved in the veto session of the Illinois General Assembly which begins on November 16th.

As we head for the polls in just seven days, two things seem clear: the role of government in serving the needs of society is being called into question to a degree not seen since the New Deal; and our national debate about social policy has turned less civil, more angry, than anything we have experienced since the Great Depression.

It's time for Twenty Questions! But, this isn’t a game. Given our state’s sorry history of government corruption, we believe that candidates must tell voters--now--what they promise to do to change politics and government in Illinois.


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