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posted: 4/24/2011 12:01 AM

Mussman hearing what voters saying

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Thank you for the recent article about state Rep. Mussman's proposal to reduce legislator pay. I ran for state representative in the 55th District (against state Rep. Ramey) and can vouch for Mussman's statement that some voters expressed concern about legislator pay.

The article noted Ramey's opposition to Mussman's proposal and included his justification that District 55 voters cared only about taxes. I don't know how Ramey got this idea, but it was not the main thing (much less the only thing) I heard from voters.

I walked the district full-time/nonstop for over 15 months and attended countless community meetings and forums. The general issue of high taxes was a fairly common concern, but each time this came up I asked, "What kind of taxes?" This almost always narrowed the concern to property taxes, not income tax as Ramey suggests.

More to the point, one of the most common concerns was "politics as usual" and the absence of true leadership in Springfield. Particularly in this time of budgetary crisis, it seems to me that a true leader would make the same sacrifices that he or she is demanding from others.

Regardless of what critics will say about Mussman's proposal, I believe that it conveys a positive message of leader-first sacrifice. I had serious problems with the vast sums of money that Mussman took from Speaker Madigan, but I have come to know her personally and believe that her heart is in the right place. And, in this case, she is spot on in terms of legislators leading by example.

Greg Brownfield