the polar vortex weather conditions, Illinois Representative Jim Durkin (R-82) arrived
at JUF on Jan. 27 prepared to talk shop with members.
August, Durkin’s Republican colleagues elected him as Minority Leader by a
unanimous, 47-member vote. With votes on marriage equality and pension reform just
two months after he was sworn in, Durkin had a very short honeymoon period
before being called upon to lead the carving out process of the Republican
House and approach these two controversial issues.
reform topped the list. In the final hours of negotiations, Durkin recalls
scrambling at the eleventh hour for support. “It was tough to find caucus members
the day before Thanksgiving, but doing nothing was not an option.”
noted that, as Leader, his first priority is to field strong Republican
candidates to take back some seats lost in 2012 when the House Democrats
secured a veto-proof majority with a 41-vote advantage. After that, he looks to
develop Republican positions in the General Assembly around a minimum wage
increase, Medicaid reform, the Chicago Public School debt problem and the
ongoing debate surrounding the City of Chicago’s underfunded pension system,
the temporary income tax extension, and resolving the $8 million in unpaid state
bills as well as the 2015 state budget.
spoke of his recent meeting with Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and told the Government
Affairs Committee that he promised to help the mayor. “We cannot ignore the
educational debt problem in Chicago,” he said.
a proposed increase in minimum wage, Durkin said he is open for discussion, but
will not walk away without a reasonable compromise. However, he said it is
highly unlikely his members will support an income tax extension when the
current temporary income tax expires on Dec. 21 of this year.
was born and raised as one of eight boys from Westchester, Ill., and currently
raises four children in Illinois with his wife. Consequently, he is concerned
about the fiscal health of the state with regards to the future. “I have seen
young families question whether or not to raise their families in this state
because of its fiscal problems,” he said.
calls for a wholesale change on how Illinois does business before state
agencies spend more money.
Hochberg, chair of the Government Affairs Committee, thanked Leader Durkin for
his comments and said he looks forward to meeting with him again on the JUF
Springfield Mission, which begins Apr. 30.