Chris Hage: Candidate Profile
42nd District Representative
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Office sought: 42nd District Representative
Family: I am have been married 15 years to a wonderful girl who attended the Illinois Math & Science Academy with me and we have one delightful baby boy named Isaac.
Education: High School Diploma, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, 1990 Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1994 Juris Doctor, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, 1997
Civic involvement: Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Boy Scout Troop 115 Committee Member Daughters of the American Revolution, Anna Harmon Chapter volunteer Theta Chi Fraternity
Elected offices held: Precinct Committeeman
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Fiscal Responsibility for State Government
Key Issue 2
Repealing the Quinn tax increase and cutting taxes generally
Key Issue 3
Making Illinois job-friendly by reducing the burdens placed on private enterprise
What can you do specifically to help the economy in your district? What is your view of the tax breaks granted to companies like Motorola Mobility, Navistar and Sears? For incumbents, how did you vote on the Sears plan in this fall's veto session?
In order to promote job creation we must cut taxes, cut spending, and get unwieldy government out of the way of the private sector.
It is a basic tenet of economics that "capital is a coward."
The great majority of business owners want to do the right thing for their employees, and they should not be driven away from making productive decisions.
The unpredictability of Illinois Government, the threat of lawsuits and regulation, and the constant fear of corrupt politicians must end if we are to encourage capital expenditures by private enterprise that lead to new jobs.
It is no wonder our industrial leaders like Caterpillar, John Deere, Navistar, and Boeing are expanding in other states. Of course this means I would support an immediate repeal of the Quinn tax hike.
We must also provide civil justice reform, real workman's compensation reform, and provide greater transparency to government if we want to attract new businesses and encourage existing ones to expand.
None of these measures would cost money in the budget but they would significantly reduce overhead so that employers can regain some breathing room and the confidence to hire new employees.
And these reforms will help large and small businesses alike. It was appalling to watch the General Assembly make new expenditures to gain support for the CME/Sears tax relief.
I support across-the-board tax cuts.
Special tax breaks for large employers simply address the symptom (employers fleeing the state and eroding our tax base) rather than the underlying cause (a toxic business and employment environment).
Special tax breaks also benefit large corporations that can afford influential lobbyists and public relations firms to the detriment of all of the small businesses in this state that will have to make up the difference.
Do you favor limiting how much money party leaders can give candidates during a general election? If elected, do you plan to vote for the current leader of your caucus' Why or why not?
As a general rule, I am skeptical of campaign donation limits as they create unintended consequences and can stifle free speech.
I do support full transparency and frequent reporting requirements.
This must be followed with vigorous enforcement against rule breakers.
Since the new law caps donations from every other entity in the state, I would consider limiting contributions from party leaders for primaries.
I have seen firsthand how the current system does not work.
Party primary voters in each district ought to pick their own nominees without having party bosses dictate choices.
In the general elections I believe that party leaders should be able to target resources where they see fit.
Even if we were to cap donations from parties to individual campaigns, money will find a way to influence candidates anyway.
We are seeing this now in the form of independent PACs that are, in theory, not coordinated with campaigns.
The new campaign finance reforms consolidated more power among "the four tops" and as a result may stifle independent thinking and leadership in both parties in both chambers.
Perhaps we could limit that risk by placing term limits on the leadership positions.
All of that having been said, I plan to vote for Tom Cross as House Republican Leader.
I was able to observe his work firsthand when I worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Leader Cross has been able to organize a diverse group of legislators into principled opposition to the tax and spend policies of the other side.
How, specifically, would you cut the budget? What does Illinois need to do to fix its status as a "deadbeat state?" How have you or will you vote on future gambling bills' What is your view of slots at racetracks' Casino expansion?
Policing Medicaid fraud and requiring proof of eligibility for benefits is commonsense and could save us more than $100 million annually.
Merging the offices of Comptroller and Treasurer will save money and those current officeholders will cooperate to get it done.
Elimination of legislative scholarships and tuition waivers at our colleges and universities will end that storied abuse and save money.
Preventing governmental office moves and redecorating unless absolutely necessary will not sit well with bureaucrats, but it may avoid more painful layoffs.
Reducing member initiatives for local governments will end the Illinois version of pork barrel spending.
Government should not be paying for any improvements not related to the basic missions of government at this time.
Eliminating boards and commissions that pay generously for part-time work will both pare down the size of government and help our bottom line. In order to fix our status as a deadbeat state all new spending must stop.
This may seem obvious but our General Assembly recently initiated new EITC spending to grease the passage of the CME and Sears tax breaks.
In fact, the spending policies I observed while working for the Illinois Senate continue.
In Illinois process is often policy, and that is why my background will help me see through the games and gimmicks on day one.
Budgeting is done behind closed doors by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate and passed into law with little scrutiny.
The leaders use substantive amendments to shell bills in the waning days of a legislative session.
That mechanism avoids the minimum time for posting of substantive bills.
Most legislative staff, the press corps, and most lobbyists are denied the time needed to look into the hundreds of pages that make up a budget bill.
The contents cannot be scrutinized and wasteful spending results.
That maneuver would typically occur near Memorial Day when voters are not paying attention. We can institute rules that require minimum posting times for budgetary bills to encourage scrutiny.
Transparency will then discourage budgetary gimmicks and hidden new spending.
We can also increase the effectiveness of the fiscal note mechanism which in theory analyzes the budgetary impact of a bill.
Fiscal notes are often missing from important bills or they are poorly researched.
And fiscal notes can be ignored.
These kinds of problems can be solved by electing people handy with numbers that have previous experience with the problems of the budgetary process.
I am offering that knowledge and experience and promise to be courageous in my opposition of bad practices. I do not support expanding gambling or new casinos.
There are enough options for that kind of entertainment already.
What do you specifically support to deal with the state's pension gap? Would you vote for House Republican Leader Tom Cross's three-tier pension plan? Why or why not?
Our unfunded pension liability is a troubling situation with no easy answers.
People who rely on a public pension have a right to be upset at politicians who sold them a false bill of goods.
However, higher taxes and borrowing will not solve the problem.
Even with the recent Quinn tax hike and resulting tax revenues, our pension funding ratio went down this past year from 45% to 43%. We must immediately cease new spending and cut all spending that is non-essential.
This state has a balanced budget requirement in the State Constitution and the General Assembly treated pension contributions as general revenue in order to avoid the 3/5 majority required for borrowing.
This practice must stop immediately and we must replace those funds as soon as we can.
While we are putting an end to the budgetary gimmicks, we must also address the pensions themselves.
Some reforms have already passed that prevent abuses like so called 'double-dipping,? but more reforms are needed.
We must obviously stop the pension games that allow short term government workers to receive benefits only meant for employees that paid into the system over time.
We must also trim benefits that would exceed inflation.
Ever single pension fund and every type of governmental benefit needs to be examined for cost savings.
Governmental workers simply cannot expect the cost of living increases and early retirement offerings that have been awarded in the past. Leader Cross' three-tiered pension plan, currently represented by SB 512, has not gained the support of state employee representatives and would almost certainly be challenged in the courts in its current form.
The Illinois Constitution forbids the diminishment of retirement benefits already awarded and the courts have doomed other reform packages.
Having read both the Sidley & Austin memorandum and the DeVito rebuttal I believe SB 512 is unlikely to pass constitutional muster as written.
However, both Leader Cross and Speaker Madigan have backed reforms like SB 512 and that is a positive indicator of a bipartisan solution.
Because SB 512 is not yet in final form, I reserve judgment of a reform package until I can read it but I support the general approach.
I would be open to ANY serious reform of our pension system to guarantee that older workers are protected while curtailing the massive costs that years of generous contracts and excessive spending have created.
The goal should be to ensure program solvency.
Even if SB 512 were to be passed and ruled constitutional, spending cuts will still be necessary.
Should gay marriage be legalized? Should Illinois define life as beginning at conception as others have? How would you vote on a concealed carry firearm plan? Should the death penalty be reinstated?
I believe marriage is between one man and one woman.
I believe that life begins at conception and should be respected as such.
I am strong supporter of the Second Amendment and I believe that law-abiding Illinois citizens can be trusted just like the citizens of the 49 other states with some type of concealed carry. The death penalty, with the reforms promulgated by then-Senator Obama, should be reinstated for the most heinous offenses.
Our police and corrections officers stand in strong support of that reinstatement.
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