October marks Illinois’ first-ever ‘zombie preparedness month’

October marks Illinois’ first-ever ‘zombie preparedness month’

A resolution introduced by state Rep. Chris Welch, D-Westchester, and passed by the Illinois House designated October as “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.

Thankfully, this month, politicians made sure Illinoisans were prepared for at least one crisis: zombies.

In January, state Rep. Chris Welch, D-Westchester, filed House Resolution 0030, which designated 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, Illinois, areas in 2013 and 2015, respectively. This summer, historic flooding in Lake County was particularly harmful. 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.

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 latter of whom are facing one of the highest tax burdens in the nation. The General Assembly should come forward with fresh, serious ideas about structurally reforming the state and helping taxpayers rather than passing trivial-sounding resolutions that do little for their intended purpose.

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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