Republican Tim Butler is being sworn in today as the new state representative in the 87th district. That includes portions of Sangamon, Logan, Menard and Tazewell counties.
Butler, who lives in Springfield, says he understands it will be a contentious session regarding the state's budget. He admits he's still learning the issues. But he says he'll listen to all sides.
"I have friends on both sides of the aisle. I have conservative friends and liberal friends. I have friends in the governor's office. I am going to have an open door and an open mind," he said.
Butler says getting the state fiscal house in order is the top priority. But he adds with so many state employees in the district, he will also work on their behalf. He realizes some are already upset with Gov. Bruce Rauner's comments regarding unions and his push to allow right to work zones. That can create a balancing act for a local lawmaker.
"I am a big supporter of Governor Rauner. I voted for Governor Rauner, obviously, in the general election. I voted for Governor Rauner in the primary. I think he brings fresh perspective that is certainly needed in Springfield," Butler said.
"You have a large base of state employees in this district," he added. "I look forward to looking out for the interests of state employees. It's a big driver of the economy in our area."
Butler has previously served as a congressional aide with Congressmen Ray LaHood and Rodney Davis. He's a Peoria native.
He says he'll work in a bipartisan manner to get the state on track.
"I'm excited the governor has brought a new enthusiasm for tackling these problems," Butler said. "What's been lost the last couple of weeks since the governor's budget address is he's not going to do it alone. This is kind of his marker out there. The general assembly is going to work its will working with the governor."
"Obviously, the Democrats are going to have a lot of input as to what the end product is going to be."