SPRINGFIELD, IL – Doctors, teachers, lawyers, beauticians, and scores of other occupations are required to take continuing education classes to maintain professional knowledge in their fields, and Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) believes the same principle should be applied to elected officials.
Syverson (photo right) will introduce legislation that requires mandatory economics continuing education instruction for elected officials at the city, county and state levels.
“The economic decisions made by elected officials impact every aspect of our lives. Now, more than ever, we need elected officials to understand big-picture economics,” Syverson said. “The decisions the leaders in this state are making may be well-intentioned but the consequences of their decisions have been devastating on our state and its citizens.”
Syverson cites record pension debt, record backlog of unpaid bills, failed social programs, loss of jobs to other states, and the state’s general economic malaise as the primary needs for an economics education.
“Why is it politicians seem to continually miss what in hindsight is such basic elementary economic truths? Part of the problem lies with the fact that so many of today’s elected leaders come from backgrounds in social work, education, law, or government - all fine professions but none that come with any understanding of business or economics, “ Syverson said. “I do not doubt many of these leaders have good intentions; however, they are generally only trained to see or concentrate on what the direct immediate consequences of their legislation would have on the particular group or issue they are working on.”
However, economics consists of looking at not merely the immediate impact of any act or policy on one group but also the long-term effects of that action on that group and the entire state as a whole.
Syverson’s legislation would require an eight-hour economics course be taken every two years. The curriculum would be developed by the Illinois Community College Board in conjunction with the state’s manufacturing, agricultural, and business community.
“It’s been said ‘In economics you learn from mistakes -- in politics you repeat them.’ As a state we cannot afford to keep repeating the mistakes of the past.” Syverson concluded. “I hope with legislators having a better understanding of how the economy works, it will translate into better actions.”
This legislation is being cosponsored in the Illinois House by two local legislators, State Reps. Bob Pritchard (R-Sycamore) and Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford), who themselves also have business backgrounds.