Jim Oberweis: Candidate Profile
25th District Senate
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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.
City: Sugar Grove
Office sought: 25th District Senate
Family: Married, five children, two step children, and sixteen grandchildren
Occupation: Chairman, Oberweis Dairy also, a FINRA arbitrator
Education: Marmion Military B/A University of Illinois, Urbana MBA University of Chicago
Civic involvement: Moose Int'l (serve on the pension committee) Northern Illinois Food Bank (director) Oberweis Foundation (President)
Elected offices held: Republican State Central Committee, 14th Congressional District Prestbury Citizens Association Sugar Grove PC
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: no
Key Issue 1
We must change the environment in Illinois to be supportive of entrepreneurs and job creation through lower taxes and less burdensome regulation or we will continue to see further "wealth flight" and businesses moving out of state.
Illinois income taxes must be simplified and reconnected to federal returns to end the current required double computations.
We must have lower corporate rates for all businesses, not special breaks for the politically connected.
Key Issue 2
I will sponsor and actively support pension reform legislation to gradually end the systematic underfunding of our pension liabilities and to prevent the past practice of double dipping.
Eventually, I believe we need to move to a defined contribution system as we have in private industry.
Key Issue 3
I realize that getting people to vote limits on themselves is a VERY difficult task.
but I believe that going back to citizen legislators instead of career politicians would be a huge step to return sanity to government in Illinois.
it would prevent any one indivual from controlling the legislative process as we have seen in the past.
while it may seem almost impossible to accomplish term limits, some states, such as Florida, have done so.
In Illinois we were recently able to pass term limits for Republican State Central Committee members, much to the surprise of some who sat on the committe for 20 and 30 years.
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?
We need to change course in Springfield. Last year's 67% tax hike on businesses and individuals was the wrong thing to do; it only served to retard economic growth further, and increase the wealth flight of high net worth individuals and even some businesses seeking lower-tax, lower-regulation places to do business. Instead, we should ensure that the so-called 'temporary tax' is just that -- temporary -- and we must cut spending further.
In my ideal world, we wouldn't need to offer specific companies carve-outs like the tax breaks given to Motorola Mobility, Navistar, CME and Sears. By shrinking the size and scope of government, we reduce the need to give targeted tax breaks to individual companies.
I'm generally opposed to targeted tax breaks because to do so is to play favorites, typically the most politically connected. I'd prefer to see taxes lowered for all individuals and businesses in the state.
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?
I don't want to speculate on who I would vote for when I don't yet know who will be running.
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?
Illinois is spending far more than it takes in, and the first step to restoring fiscal discipline is to stop the spending. Simply put, when you're in a hole and you want to get out, the first thing you do is stop digging.
We can begin by reforming the state's Medicaid program. Eight years ago, we spent about $6.5 billion per year to serve 1.6 million enrollees. This year, we'll spend $10.4 billion to serve almost 2.8 million enrollees. That kind of growth cannot be sustained, and part of the problem is that our Medicaid program pays for things other states' programs don't. Simply bringing our Medicaid program in line with what other states do could save us $1.3 billion per year.
Next, we need to look at the cost of group health insurance for state employees. That program has grown by 33 percent -- from $1.8 billion to $2.4 billion -- in just the last five years, largely because we cover a larger portion of our employees' costs than do other states. For instance, the Governor's Taxpayer Action Board notes that our state employees pay 12 or 13 percent of the costs of the program, while the national average is 15 percent for employees with no dependents, and 22 percent for employees with dependents. It's nice to be able to offer more generous benefits than other states, but in tough times, we simply cannot afford it any longer. We could save 20 percent -- about $500 million per year, $300 million of which comes out of general funds -- by bringing it in line with what other states spend.
Pension reform must be part of the solution. For decades, our elected leaders have negotiated with public employee unions in a "I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine" mode. But because the pro-union elected officials doing the negotiating were more concerned with meeting the demands of the unions who support them in their reelection campaigns than they were worried about the costs to taxpayers, taxpayers got stuck with a bill -- and an unfunded liability that has now reached more than $80 billion. It's time someone stood up for the hardworking taxpayers who foot the bill for these pensions. If we were to adopt the reforms recommended by the Civic Committee, we could save another $1.3 billion.
Of course, these are just a few of the specific areas we can cut the budget. Over the longer term, the solution to Illinois' fiscal problems is more basic -- we need to grow our economy. A larger and growing economy means more and better jobs, and that yields higher revenues, even as it reduces the need for costly social services. So what we really need to do is find ways to make Illinois attractive to business again. That means cutting taxes, cutting regulations, and creating a more business-friendly environment. I don't believe that gambling revenue is a reliable long term solution to our state funding needs.
Gambling revenue tends to act like a tax on some of our citizens who can least afford it.
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?
Though it is not the only reasonable solution, I support SB 512 -- which has the backing of both Democratic and Republican legislative leaders -- as an immediate fix to the pension underfunding problem. It's clear that over the last several decades, Democrats and pro-Big Labor Republicans who ran the state government have colluded with the various state employee unions to cut deals to the benefit of the unions, without regard to the long-term consequences or costs to taxpayers.
Over the longer term, we need to take the steps necessary to grow state revenues (and thereby allow for funding the state's pension obligations) even as we bring our pension obligations back in line with those of surrounding states and/or move to defined contribution plans as private industry employers have done.
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 should be defined as the union of one man and one woman. I believe life begins at conception. I believe law-abiding citizens should have the right to carry concealed weapons. I believe the death penalty should be reinstated.
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