Scores of elected officials from across Illinois met with Vice President Mike Pence and other senior officials Thursday at the White House to talk about state and federal issues.
The White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs hosted about 140 state and local elected officials from Illinois on Thursday. Each state has a day where their officials are invited to the White House to be briefed on matters important to them.
No Democratic lawmakers took up the invitation, according to those who attended.
The officials spent the afternoon talking about transportation, housing, and tariffs important to Illinois with Pence, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and others.
“Every department is rolling back regulation,” said state Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, who attended with her husband. “Every single speaker talked about the need for reforming government and to roll back regulation from the previous administration.”
Anthony Bedell, deputy assistant secretary of intergovernmental affairs with the Department of Transportation, spoke about plans to improve rural infrastructure.
“They’re trying to get more money down to rural areas for infrastructure projects,” Rezin said. “He said about 60 percent of the money going out the door for infrastructure will go to rural projects.”
Bedell also spoke about the coming hyperloop connecting downtown Chicago with O’Hare International Airport, saying federal officials are actively working on its implementation, Rezin said.
While he said the visit left him feeling bullish about the state of the federal government, state Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, said there was no talk of ways to help Illinois become more competitive or of ways to address the state's pension debt.
“The biggest thing Illinois needs is not more programs or odds and ends,” he said. “What we need is significant transformation. That means some way we can save money on our pensions and liabilities.”
The lawmakers had to pay their own way to attend the event.