Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) was sworn in Wednesday for the new session of the Illinois General Assembly. Tracy will serve a two-year Senate term representing the 47th District. She ran unopposed to fill the seat left vacant by retiring Democrat John Sullivan of Rushville.
This isn’t Tracy’s first time holding political office, having previously served as the 94th District State Representative. She stepped down from that position to run for Illinois lieutenant governor as part of Kirk Dillard’s 2014 failed bid for governor.
Tracy’s Senate district covers 11 counties in west-central Illinois including some of the communities she previously served as representative. Tri States Public Radio interviewed Tracy while she was traveling from Quincy to Springfield. She said she is looking forward to a quieter life in the Senate chamber.
She said the first priority will be to end Illinois’ ongoing budget impasse by passing a bipartisan spending plan. After that, Tracy intends to reintroduce business-friendly legislation she worked on while a representative.
Tracy’s parents started DOT Foods which advertises itself as the largest food industry redistributor in the nation. The corporate headquarters are in Mt. Sterling, Illinois. But Tracy said the company has opened 10 out-of-state operations. Tracy’s husband serves as general counsel for DOT foods and helped spearhead the out-of-state expansions. She said that gives her keen insight on how Illinois fairs compared to other states.
She said tort reform, workers compensation reform, and unemployment insurance reform would spur economic growth in rural areas and allow small businesses to grow.
“We’ve watched too many jobs leave Illinois and the population decline in Illinois also indicates that we have some real crises in Illinois that need to be addressed and we can no longer continue to do business the way we have done it in the past,” Tracy said. “It hasn’t worked and we need to consider these new reforms.”
Tracy said she expects her proposals to be more popular this time around given that there are more Republican lawmakers in office and a Republican governor.
She said the key to growth is more jobs, boosting the state’s national revenue growth, and providing quality state funding for education and infrastructure improvements.
Tracy’s Senate district includes Western Illinois University. She applauded Western and community colleges in the region for making their budgets as lean as possible. She said the state needs to fund higher education because not doing so drives up tuition rates and pushes young people to leave the state.
“Then you lose that young group that will be our future for Illinois,” Tracy said.
Tracy said she plans to keep mobile office hours throughout her district. But she said given state budget constraints, she will not have a permanent district office of her own.
Tracy does plan to share office space with State Representatives Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) and Randy Freese (R-Paloma).