State Sen. Cultra’s comments turn central Illinois into a big fat joke

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

Although few stories in the national news cycle come from central Illinois, one legislator from the middle of Illinois made headlines across the country last week for some “off the cuff” comments about fixing the child obesity problem.

In a legislative session on May 10 about raising taxes on sugary beverages, State Sen. Shane Cultra (R-Onarga) offered the idea of eliminating tax deductions for families that have obese children.

“It’s the parents’ responsibility that have obese kids,” Cultra said. “I think you need to look at a bill to take the tax deduction away for their child if he’s obese.”

He didn’t just stop there. He went on to say that “In poorer families, they actually get money for their kids. I’d take that money away.”

After these statements were featured on websites and blogs across the country, in addition to the Rush Limbaugh radio program, Cultra tried to distance himself from them, saying “it was a tongue-in-cheek comment taken out of context” and that it “should not be taken seriously.”

Unfortunately for Cultra, he’s the only one getting a kick out of his ridiculous tax proposal. No one in the room, or media, could tell that he was not being serious about his tax proposal. And mentioning ideas like getting rid of tax deductions for families with obese children, even in jest, brings nothing to the table in tackling the obesity epidemic. Besides, poverty and unhealthy diets are interrelated. Quality, healthy foods are much more expensive than the junk food that contributes to unhealthy lifestyles.

However, in this day and age with 24/7 news stations and non-stop coverage, the outrageous sound bytes get coverage while politicians quietly throwing out good ideas get little to no coverage.

With the present news standards, it’s important that we let our elected officials know that we hold them to high standards and expect more from them than just making “tongue in cheek” comments.

It may have been nice for central Illinois to get national media attention, but it is too bad it had to come from such an embarrassing political story.