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updated: 2/10/2012 4:47 PM

Corinne Pierog: Candidate Profile

25th District Senate (Democrat)

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  • Corinne Pierog, running for 25th District Senate

    Corinne Pierog, running for 25th District Senate




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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: St. Charles


Office sought: 25th District Senate

Age: 60

Family: Married Two children: a son and a daughter One stepdaughter 3 granddaughters ranging in age from 9 to 1 month

Occupation: Consultant -organizational development.

Education: MBA Roosevelt University, 2005 Doctoral Studies ABD, City University of New York MA San Francisco State University, Directing and Performance Arts Management, 1978 BA University of California, Irvine, Theater, 1975

Civic involvement: Saint Charles CUSD 303 School Board 2009 -2013 School Board Liaison to the St. Charles Housing Commiseration School Board Liaison to the Norris Recreation Center Precinct Committeeman (Elected) March 2012

Elected offices held: Saint Charles School Board Member 2009-2013

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: no

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Jobs: Since 2007 thousands of Illinois' families have suffered through the debilitating effects of unemployment. It is our duty to create both long and short term solutions that realistically address the underlying issues of unemployment. We need to secure a more stable economic future that will ease the despondency of our communities and bring a return to economic vitality.

Key Issue 2

EDUCATION: Education provides the answer for a 21st century workforce that will be able to meet the growing demands of an innovative and technologically driven economy. Educational research has been the principal catalyst for economic growth and advancement in healthcare. While a high school education is one of the primary indicators for ending the cycle of poverty, by 2014 most jobs will require a least some post-secondary education.

Key Issue 3

Suburban Downtown Community Development: By encouraging a partnership between both the private and public sector influxes of small business specializing in research and product development can address the needs of our local communities by helping to expand sales tax, retail expansion and restaurants.

Questions & Answers

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?

The way forward is to begin to reinvest in talent and talent creation. It is projected that by the year 2018, 64% of Illinois' jobs will require some post-secondary training beyond that of high school, but in Illinois two million working

adults have obtained only a high-school education,

a great many, much less. We need to encourage job training opportunities to insure that our workforce is skilled in the latest technological applications and skill needs. Illinois has to start talking about manufacturing as our future, not just something of the past. We need to identify and move forward with both short and a long term strategies for job development.

Other industries show similar trends. Illinois's medical services and financial services saw a decline in jobs between 1998 -2009, but 17,000 jobs in biopharmaceuticals were added.

Illinois outpaced the nation in jobs in information technology, transportation and logistics. But Illinois lags behind its regional counterparts in patent development, the source of new industry and product expansion. Illinois needs to support the development of research because data indicates that support of innovation and creative ideas has a direct positive impact on the generation of jobs.

This is what I propose:

1. Illinois must develop research hubs that supports the generation of new and sustainable job growth.

We need to encourage job training opportunities to insure that our work force is skilled in the latest technological applications and skill needs through initiatives such as Illinois's Technology Development Account Program. Through this program over $75 million invested in Illinois venture capital firms has encouraged innovation, job growth, and business expansion. Thirty-eight states, including Illinois, currently provide some type of state Research and Development tax credit Illinois also has one of the highest concentrations of research institutions in the country, including more than 440 corporate R&D facilities and more than 200 academic, government, and not-for-profit research institutions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that every dollar of tax benefit has spurred an additional dollar in private research and development.

2. Illinois needs to invest in education, start-ups and entrepreneurship, but it also needs to develop immediate fixes to develop job growth opportunities.

We must help and support our small businesses. The state's current tax incentives now support large companies, but these tax breaks are funded on the backs of the rest of Illinois' business community.

Illinois' tax breaks have to be fairly metered, impacting both the small and large businesses. The extension of the

Small Business Job Creation Tax Credit is a strong start, but property tax breaks and other incentives should not be given without an understanding of impact these breaks on other Illinois businesses.

3. Illinois needs to provide incentives for companies to locate in vacant or underutilized buildings in our suburban downtown communities and to update these into a state of the art facility promoting both job growth and downtown redevelopment. By encouraging a partnership between both the private and public sector influxes of small business specializing in research and product development can address the needs of our local communities by helping to expand sales tax, retail expansion and restaurants.

We must invest in innovative and sustainable industries and technologies. Illinois has enviable selling points. It has a diversified economy, a central location, a strong transportation hub, first-rate research universities and world class cultural offerings.

Illinois has the capacity to develop a quality work-force, access to international markets, and high quality of life.

I will promote policies that encourage job growth for the people of the 25th District and throughout Illinois. We need policies that rid the despondency of our communities. We need to secure a more stable economic future.

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?

The limit on campaign contributions included in Illinois historic campaign reform bill, SB 1466, took effect on January 1, 2011. Cindi Canary, director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said the "long, long overdue reform" took more than 30 years to enact. She called the new law "a significant victory for Illinois voters," and said it will "help promote public confidence in government and help reduce the influence wielded by big campaign contributors."

However, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, Republican leaders Senator Christine Radogno of Lemont and Representative Tom Cross of Oswego will continue to be allowed to spend significant money from their leadership campaign accounts to support selected candidates. For example, in primary races, the law restricts legislative and party leaders to giving a combined $200,000 to statewide candidates, $125,000 to a state Senate candidate, and $75,000 to a state House candidate. That total includes direct cash donations as well as in-kind donations such as the value of printing, postage and staff time. While SB1466 is not perfect, it is a definite move in to correct direction.

The goal of campaign finance legislation is to remove the impact of powerful donors or PACs upon an elected official, SB1466 will attempt to address this issue by creating a bi-partisan task force to study the value and impact of limits on campaign contributions, as well as charged with studying how a public financing system of elections for Illinois could be created. Obviously the goal of publically funded campaigns is a lofty goal and one that will take time to achieve. The Senate President is not involved, nor has any influence upon my primary campaign.

While we have disagreed on issues, I have found the Senate President to be a thoughtful leader.

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?

The Budget: Illinois' recent tax increase may be the biggest any state has adopted in percentage terms while grappling with recent economic woes, but its tax rate is still lower than in several other states in the Midwest region. Illinois' tax rate will be lower than in many neighboring states. Iowa's top rate is 8.98 percent, Wisconsin's is 7.75 percent.

The corporation tax would also rise to 7% from 4.8%. The legislation also imposes a moratorium on new programs with spending growth capped at 2% per year, with the exception of increased school aid. Regardless of the increase tax revenue is still lagging behind Illinois' debt.

While there are some who suggest that a repeal of the corporate income tax increase would spur job growth and investment, it would also cost the state at least $800 million a year in additional revenue.. There are more ways to encourage Illinois businesses than simply a reduction of corporate income tax rates or additional workers compensation reform to encourage business development. For example, the Illinois Manufacturers' Association suggested capping the tax paid for their utility usage.

I support the creation of bi-partisan committee which would include legislatures and members of the business community, and labor to consider the needs and the issues surrounding the development of a healthy business environment in tandem with a fiscally healthy Illinois. By working together key solutions would be identified, developed and implemented.

Illinois FY12 budget has already recommended additional funding cuts for its social service agencies pushing Illinois' funding for social service programs as one of the lowest in the nation, perhaps the lowest. When the state cuts one dollar of spending on human services, it causes the loss of $1.36 of economic activity. Some suggestions are : 1) rather than assuming it is recommended that Springfield use the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability which has been noted for its accuracy for revenue projections; 2) identify unnecessary revenues from the $2.3 billion budget projected for F12 that are , assigned to statutory transfers that are made annually from the General Funds into special state funds; 3) Illinois should avoid spending $600 million dollars to accelerate a business tax break for capital purchases by decoupling Illinois from the federal law as all but 18 other states have.

How have you or will you vote on future gambling bills' What is your view of slots at racetracks' Casino expansion?

I appreciate the difficulty of legalized gaming, but as Senate President Cullerton sated -- . . .the decision was made long ago to have gaming, so now we find ourselves setting policy for a multibillion-dollar business in heated competition with surrounding states. While we've wrung our hands over politics, Indiana puts casinos just across the border so the parking lots can fill with Illinois gamblers while Wisconsin interests hire lobbyists to try to kill off Illinois competition.

A neighbor of mine who was employed at one of the Fox Valley's local casinos has lost her job, because the casino had to look at measures to maintain its viability. While our casinos are not immune to the recession a lack of support for these gambling institutions will have a direct economic impact upon the Fox Valley as well as the agricultural industry which supports our racetracks. We must act responsibly but we must not disregard the real and positive economic impact that the gambling industry has upon our communities.

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?

Under Illinois constitutional law a pension creates a contract between the state and the member. Legislation that amends or has a direct effect of amending the pension code would be unconstitutional. Both the Illinois Supreme Court as well as the Illinois Appellate Court has consistently found legislation amending or having a direct effect of amending the Pension Code and ultimately reducing the pension benefits for current pension system beneficiaries unconstitutional regardless of the manner in which it is achieved.

An individual who has contributed into the state pension system cannot be asked to contribute more without being given an equal increase in his retirement benefit package.

I am opposed to senate Bill 512 since it would be in breach of the IL State Constitution, Article XIII, Section 5 According to a fact sheet from the Illinois Retirement Security Initiative, "Illinois usually chose to underfund its employer contribution.

Over time, this chronic failure to make the full employer contribution is the primary reason for Illinois state government's predicament today, facing the worst unfunded pension liability in the country." The weighted average pension received by an Illinois retiree is $32,632. On a voluntary basis a current employee could be offered the opportunity to switch to a different plan pursuant to a change in the Pension Code. This amendment to the Pension Code would provide a provision where a balance would be calculated and moved over to the voluntary plan. The calculation of benefits would include included both actual employee contributions and assumed employer contributions. This change in the Pension Code must be approved by both the Legislature and the effected Members before it could be enacted. But the current employee contributions and investment earnings is actually cheaper to Illinois taxpayers than a proposed defined contribution plan.

The current defined benefit plan covers the bulk of the benefit costs. Government contributions cover 26% of the total costs while for example investments earnings of the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) accounted for nearly 65% funding in 2009; in addition, the TRS employee contribution rate of 9.4% is the highest in the nation among public pension systems for teachers (Center for Tax and Budget Accountability).

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?

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? Should gay marriage be legalized?

Protection and Civil Union Act (Senate Bill 1716) was signed by Governor Quinn on July 1, 2011, As stated it "ensures that religious denominations are not forced to recognize or solemnize civil unions."

The Act expressly provides that: "Nothing in this Act shall interfere with or regulate the religious practice of any religious body. Any religious body, Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group is free to choose whether or not to solemnize or officiate a civil union."

I am in complete support of this legislation. Should Illinois define life as beginning at conception as others have? I am completely opposed to this legislation. How would you vote on a concealed carry firearm plan? I would consider legislation that allows concealed carry on a case by case basis 'may carry' rather than a blanket provision of 'shall carry'.

All would have to be licensed and would have to participate and earn a gun training certificate.

Should the death penalty be reinstated?