Did you know EdGlenToday.com is free for you thanks to our awesome advertisers? We noticed you're using an ad block software. Help us spread the word and give our sponsors some exposure by disabling your ad blocking service for Riverbender.com.
dir="ltr">Cable network C-SPAN stopped Tuesday at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield to open the channel's bus, replete with TV studio, and interviewed a state representative for a national cable TV audience.
C-SPAN representative Joel Bacon said Springfield was the 41st stop on the network’s 50 Capitals Tour.
The bus features computer tablets loaded with quizzes on politics and government. Visitors could also take a selfie pretending to be a reporter, and review a library of 360-degree video from various events. Bacon said the bus also has a TV studio where state Rep. Tim Butler appeared Tuesday morning for a nationwide audience on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" program.
Click here for summary
“So [Butler] sat back here with Springfield proudly in the background and answered questions from Washington D.C. where our host was talking about what’s going on in Illinois,” Bacon said.
Butler, R- Springfield, said when he was a congressional staffer he had helped book people for C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" program. But on Tuesday, he was a guest.
“In true C-SPAN fashion, they came out firing,” Butler said after the interview. “There wasn’t a lot of fluff on the interview.”
Host John McArdle noted in his Tuesday morning introduction of Butler that Springfield is the hometown of Abraham Lincoln and that Butler holds the statehouse seat the slain 16th President of the United States once held.
“Let’s start with the fiscal health in Illinois. Illinois is consistently ranked at the bottom or near the bottom of fiscal health when it comes to various state rankings,” McArdle said. “Why is that?”
“We have a lot of big challenges in Illinois when it comes to our budget health,” Butler said. “We have huge pension debt in the state of Illinois. We have over $130 billion in unfunded pension liability. We’ve seen our median payments skyrocket in the last decade and a half and those two items take up a lot of our budget.”
Butler’s 10-minute segment touched on a number of policy issues.
“We talked about the idea of term limits, we talked the idea of a constitutional convention,” Butler said after the interview.
He said it was difficult to explain Illinois’ troubled finances to a national audience.
“We do have a mess on our hands still, even after passing a bipartisan budget this year,” Butler said after the interview. “It’s going to be difficult moving forward in keeping our budgets balanced. I think that’s always a tough question on how you’re going to get that done.”
The C-SPAN interview also touched on the state’s recent measure allowing medical cannabis in place of an opioid prescription, actions to address gun violence, Butler’s experience as a congressional staffer for two congressmen, and whether there’s DC-level dysfunction in state-level politics.
Butler said there’s regional differences in Illinois that lead to political differences.
“At the end of the day, we’re here to make a difference for the people that we represent and I think it’s important that you have to work with folks on both sides of the isles. On some of the big issues of the day, you do see some dysfunction,” Butler said. “But I think day-in and day-out, you see opportunities in Illinois where both Republicans and Democrats work together to try to get something done.”
During a brief tour of the bus in Springfield, Bacon was sure to emphasize that “taxpayer dollars do pay for a lot of great things. C-SPAN is not one of them,” he said. “C-SPAN is totally funded by our cable industry and locally here through Comcast.”
Butler said Comcast and Charter Communications reached out to him about the "Washington Journal" interview, knowing he’d be in town as a Springfield-area state representative.
The bus visited a Springfield high school Tuesday afternoon. It plans a stop at a Springfield elementary school Wednesday morning, and will stop at the University of Illinois, Springfield, campus before moving on to Missouri.