Republican incumbent Timothy L. Schmitz of Batavia and Democratic candidate Jennifer Barconi of South Elgin are vying in the Nov. 2 general election for the State Representative 49th District seat. Here are their thoughts on issues selected from a Daily Herald questionnaire sent to each candidate.
Q. What should be done to solve the state's budget crisis? What specific measures should be cut for how much in savings? Would you support or oppose an income tax increase or a state sales tax increase? Lay out a specific plan of what needs to be done.
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Timothy Schmitz: First and foremost, the state needs to go on a strict diet. It cannot maintain the level of spending vs. the level of revenue. This is proven once again by Illinois not paying its bills and carrying over $6 billion dollars in expenditures to the next fiscal year.
This spending has occurred year after year. With that said, it will take a long-term approach to reverse this course. Spending cannot exceed revenues. It's the same approach families take every day.
We need to review every program offered by the state to look for effectiveness and for savings. Zero-based budgeting is such an approach as well as forensic auditing of programs.
Also, no new programs can be added. When All Kids was passed by the majority party, it was clearly pointed out that Illinois could not pay for such a program. After last year's audit, it was once again shown that significant dollars were spent without even checking to see if the person was an Illinois resident.
As stated, it will take a long-term approach to bring the budget under control. Every program is not guaranteed and it will force Illinois to review its operations.
I do not support a tax increase. The problem in Illinois is not a lack of revenue, it is a complete lack of spending restraint. Increasing taxes does not lower deficits, it increases spending.
Jennifer Barconi: I think that this is the top crisis our state faces and it really shows how irresponsible those who are in Springfield right now have been over the past few years. While the economy has certainly contributed to the size of the deficit, the problem of unbalanced budgets precede the current recession. We need to look at long-term budget reforms from FY2012 and forward. There needs to be an entire revamp of the state's budget process including forecasting of short- and long-term revenues.
I think we have to look very seriously at making more cuts before we can ask any more money from tax payers. Some of the cuts that I have seen proposed would include the following:
See where the comptroller's and treasurer's offices are redundant and eliminate those redundancies.
Five percent executive agency spending reductions, equaling $300 million.
Renegotiate and rebid existing multiagency contracts, equaling $300 million.
Five percent General Assembly operations expenses reduction, equaling $2.5 million.
I am sure that there are inefficiencies and waste in state government that I am not yet aware of. After all, we seem to find out about a new set of pay increases or another relative of an elected official on the payroll every week.