ALTON — Wood River Township Supervisor Mike Babcock announced his candidacy for state representative Monday at press conferences at Lincoln Douglas Square in Alton and on the steps of the Madison County Courthouse in Edwardsville.
Babcock, a Republican, intends to challenge Dan Beiser, a Democrat and the current state representative of the 111th District. Beiser has served in that role since 2004.
“I see a huge deficit in leadership in the state of Illinois,” Babcock said. “Because of that deficit, it has concerned me for future generations.”
Babcock, who has served as Wood River Township supervisor since 2009, said he also plans to challenge Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, something he says Beiser does not do.
“Beiser doesn’t answer to his constituents; he answers only to powerful Illinois House Speaker, Michael Madigan,” Babcock said. “If Dan Beiser won’t stand up to Mike Madigan, I will.”
Madigan has served as speaker of the house since 1983, and currently serves as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party. Babcock was critical of the work by Beiser and Madigan, saying it “makes absolutely no sense.”
“The Dan Beiser/Mike Madigan agenda has been a failure,” he said. “Their agenda has left the state bankrupt, with out-of-control property taxes, a crumbling education system and has forced nearly one million Illinois citizens to flee our state in the last few years seeking employment.
“It’s time for change.”
Babcock said he chose to facilitate that change by running for state representative to eliminate Madigan’s supermajority.
A supermajority allows Madigan to pass a budget whenever he wants, and he can even pass one if the governor vetoed it, but Madigan has not passed a budget, Babcock said. According to him, the Republican Party needs only one more seat to eliminate the supermajority.
Babcock said his decision to run against Beiser came in large part because Beiser and Madigan voted to increase income taxes by $7 billion for Illinois taxpayers. Beiser also followed Madigan by voting to increase spending by billions, more than the tax increase could cover.
“They increase taxes by billions, and then increase spending by additional billions,” Babcock said. “We are so far into debt that the only way they (Madigan and Beiser) can see to get out is to raise taxes more and more.”
The Illinois Department of Employment Security found unemployment in the state increased to a rate of 6.6 percent in April, up from 6.5 percent in March 2016. Babcock cited employers such as U.S. Steel’s Granite City Works plant, Dynegy and the American Steel Foundry as prime examples of local companies that have recently announced layoffs or shutdowns.
“I’ve seen jobs dwindle from 10,000 to 6,000 to 4,000 high-paying jobs in Madison County,” he said. “Why do companies continue choosing to close Illinois plants when they continue to operate in other states? Illinois now has the highest unemployment rate in the nation. Our legislature has to make changes that make our area more attractive to job creators and bring jobs back to our state.”
Babcock said all these issues result from one problem: the unbalanced budget. According to him, the solution is not to simply cut the budget.
“You can’t just look at the budget and start slashing it here and there,” he said. “It has to be done systematically.”
Babcock cited his experience running Babcock & Associates, a local insurance business, as evidence of his ability to balance a budget.
“Being a small business owner, you understand cash flow and a balanced budget,” he said. “As a business owner, I’ve been able to successfully build a business, balance a budget, pay my bills and pay my employees.”
Babcock also said his experience as township supervisor shows his ability to keep taxes low. He lowered the property tax levy and cut the township budget and tax rate, all while running surpluses for the township.
Babcock said he eventually wants to hold a public debate with Beiser and Madigan, preferably on the steps of Lincoln Douglas Square. He predicted “a good turnout” for such an event, for which Babcock would be “ecstatic.”