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updated: 2/8/2011 10:33 AM

Focus on state finances at Barrington candidate forum

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Solving the state's financial crisis was a top priority mentioned Saturday during a forum for candidates running in three Northwest suburban state House districts.

While the six candidates answered questions about everything from medical marijuana to job creation to pensions and corporate taxes, the state's debt and budget problems were areas that candidates focused in on.

"I'm afraid for what the state has become if you think about the debt rating and what's going on," said state Rep. Ed Sullivan, a Mundelein Republican who is running to keep his 51st House District seat. "If the state of Illinois was run like a company, you would have fired the executives."

Sullivan's opponent, Hawthorn Woods Democrat Steve Riess, also mentioned the importance of solving the state's financial problems.

"I know what it means to be fiscally responsible - something the state of Illinois can't seem to get right," Riess said during the forum, hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Barrington Area.

In the race for the 54th House district seat, Palatine Republican Thomas Morrison likened the state's financial situation to a disaster area in need of a cleanup.

"There's no reason why Illinois should be 48th in the economic outlook," Morrison said. "I point to the dysfunction in Springfield."

Morrison's opponent, Palatine Democrat Matt Flamm, when asked about the state's unpaid bills, called for a bipartisan summit with representatives of businesses and labor unions to create a plan for "shared sacrifice."

"Everyone is going to have to sacrifice," Flamm said. "We all have to do it together, but we can do it."

Candidates for the 64th district seat also attended the forum.

Crystal Lake Republican Michael Tryon, who currently holds the seat, said he favors Medicaid reform as a first step to saving the state some money.

"We're experiencing a contraction in the private sector economy at the same time as our government is trying to expand and we can't make that work too well," Tryon said. "We have to reform state spending and difficult decisions have to be made."

His challenger, Crystal Lake Democrat Robert Kaempfe, said the state needs to be as responsible with its money as everyday people are forced to be in this economy.

"It comes down to who's actually managing this stuff. Who's paying the bills?" Kaempfe said. "You cannot be so irresponsible as to not pay the bills, especially if you have the revenue."

The 51st state house district includes all or sections of Deer Park, Hawthorn Woods, Kildeer, Lake Zurich, Libertyville, Long Grove, Mundelein and Round Lake Park. The 54th district covers all or sections of Barrington, Inverness, Palatine and South Barrington. The 64th district represents all or sections of Algonquin, Cary, Crystal Lake and Lake in the Hills.

The election is Nov. 2.