The Republican candidates for the newly drawn 42nd House District agree: the state is in dire financial straits.
How to fix it was a main topic of discussion during a candidate forum Tuesday in Wheaton.
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Four candidates are competing in the March 20 primary for the Republican nomination: Dave Carlin of Naperville, Chris Hage of Wheaton, Jeanne Ives of Wheaton and Laura Pollastrini of Carol Stream. The primary winner will face Democrat William Adams of Wheaton in the November general election.
The district encompasses parts of Wheaton, Winfield, Carol Stream, Warrenville and Lisle.
On Tuesday, three of the four Republicans and Adams participated in a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Though he was in the audience, Hage was not allowed to join in because organizers said he did not respond to the forum invitation by the required date.
Carlin, the chairman of the College of DuPage board of trustees and district office director for U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, said he'd go to Springfield to "shake things" up.
"I'm running for state representative, frankly, because I'm fed up with what's going on in Springfield," he said. "There's $82 billion to 85 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. It didn't get that way with just Democrats or just Republicans. It did because they were cowardly and irresponsible."
He said state employees should contribute more toward their pensions and new plans should be modeled off private sector 401K offerings.
Ives, a Wheaton city councilwoman, said part-time legislators shouldn't be eligible for pensions and she promised not to take one if elected.
Pollastrini, an attorney and government relations specialist, said new pensioners should be able to choose a different type of pension system, since the current one is "unsustainable" and needs "serious reform."
"We can't do this fly-by-the-moon and kicking the can down the road," Pollastrini said.
Carlin said he'd vote to eliminate the legislative scholarship program, which allows lawmakers to give tuition waivers to constituents that attend state universities. He also suggested the General Assembly shouldn't be allowed to conduct overtime sessions and be eligible for extra pay as a result.
Ives said elected officials must first decide how pensions will be funded before cuts can be made. She suggested an audit be conducted of all state programs.
Pollastrini said the state treasurer and comptroller's offices should be combined, the lieutenant governor's office should be eliminated, and a review should be conducted to see what duplicate programs exist. There should be no new state programs, she said.
"We have to start living within our means," she said.
All three Republican candidates said they would vote to repeal the state income tax increase implemented last year.