Caps on how long party leaders can occupy their positions are a good idea, Democrat Elaine Nekritz said, but she disagreed with Richard Hamen, her Republican opponent, who said all legislators should be subject to term limits.
The two met in Des Plaines Tuesday night at a forum hosted by the Glenview League of Women Voters.
Nekritz, the District 57 incumbent from Northbrook, said term limits in neighboring states "give greater power to lobbyists and to staff and to the executive branch because the legislators don't have the institutional knowledge and the memory to really grapple with the issues and learn them."
But Hamen, who is a Prospect Heights alderman, said Speaker of the House Michael Madigan has been in office for 30 years, and "Who here thinks he's doing a great job?"
He said lobbyists could be regulated so they did not control the legislature.
"My opponent is advertising a totalitarianship where you would have a few chiefs in control of everybody just because they're special and they know what everybody's problems are and how to fix them," Hamen said.
Nekritz said she was the only member of the majority party in the last 20 years who voted against the House rules, and she did this because they give Madigan too much power.
For example, she thinks committee chairs should be able to hold hearings without the speaker's approval, and a bill should get called on the floor without his permission if sponsored by a certain number of members.
Nekritz voted with Madigan 85 percent of the time, and Machine politicians must go, Hamen said.
State Rep. Tom Cross, the House GOP leader, took committee chairmanships away from two Republicans who voted against the party position, said Nekritz, adding she does not think Madigan has done that throughout her eight years in Springfield.
Both agreed fixing the $13 billion state budget deficit is a high priority.
Nekritz said she was part of a group of lawmakers who proposed $1.3 billion in budget cuts, but they did not pass. The same group has put forward a new method of budgeting where the dollar amount that can be spent is set first, then budget priorities are agreed upon. Performance evaluations would also be part of the system. However, more revenue is needed, too, she said.
Hamen said he is not as familiar with specific programs as Nekritz, but his philosophy is to pay the bills, pay teachers and listen to them when making education policy, cut out waste and not raise taxes. He favored school vouchers and said that if students used the Internet more and expensive textbooks less that could cut much of the expense out of education.
He said that getting more people working and paying taxes in Illinois would produce more revenue without raising taxes.