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: Crystal Lake
Office sought: 66th District Representative
Family: Wife, Cathy, and three children: Jared, Lauren and Lindsey
Occupation: Environmental Health Scientist
Education: Graduated North Vigo High School, Terra Haute - 1973 Graduated Indiana State University -- 1978, B.S. in Environmental Health Science
Civic involvement: Past Member Crystal Lake Jaycees 1982-1998, Charter Member Crystal Lake Dawnbreakers
Elected offices held: McHenry County Board Member 1989-2004 McHenry County Board Chairman 1998-2004 Illinois House of Representatives 2004-Present Algonquin Township Precinct Committeeman Algonquin Township Republican Party Chairman McHenry County Republican Party Chairman
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
Currently, 10% of Illinoisans are unemployed (60,000 of them since the 67% tax hike took effect in January of 2011).
It is imperative that the State of Illinois become competitive with surrounding states to attract new industry and retain jobs. We need to reform the statutes which deal with workers' compensation, government secured financing and incentives that are offered as tools to attract business.
We must also repeal the 67% tax increase. Illinois has created an atmosphere that is very business unfriendly. In spite of passing workers compensation reform, IL continues to have one of the highest WC costs, which is a deterrent for attracting new businesses and expanding existing ones. We must continue to work on solutions to reduce these costs to conform with surrounding states. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the General Assembly and the Governor of Illinois to initiate a process by which we can adopt statues similar to those currently used in the state of Indiana and Missouri. With regard to government secured financing, Illinois passed legislation that requires all government-assisted financing of private projects to pay prevailing wages. I voted against this. This means that any private projects funded by the Illinois Finance Authority or by the nine Economic Development Authorities, or any time federal funds are utilized as an incentive for economic development purposes, prevailing wages must be paid for all private construction projects. Only two states require this (Illinois and Ohio). Therefore, if a multi-national corporation wants to locate in Illinois, we cannot provide financial incentives that are as competitive as our neighboring states. Tax Increment Financing Policies (TIF): I am currently drafting legislation which would allow special TIF districts based on job creation. These TIF districts would apply to projects which would create 500 or more jobs. In addition to the real estate increment, this law would allow sales tax, utility tax, income tax and special taxes to be utilized as part of the funding mechanisms. A job creation TIF district would be comparable to an enterprise zone, but the financing would have to be retired in 12 -- years. This is similar to TIF legislation that is utilized currently in Missouri.
Key Issue 2
Finance/Budgeting Conservative budget figures, fiscal discipline and a bipartisan approach led to the first balanced budget for Illinois in many years. The final budget included difficult budget decisions, but it forces the state to live within its means so that bills can be paid and finances can get back on track. It was the first balanced budget since I was elected to the General Assembly and the first budget that I voted in favor of.
The $33.2 billion spending plan is $2 billion less than what Governor Quinn requested earlier in the year in his budget address. Whereas the last two budgets included $3.7 billion in borrowing to make the pension payment, this new budget includes $4.2 billion to fully fund the mandated pension payment with no borrowing required.
The passage of several budget-related bills and resolutions earlier in the year set the stage for the balanced budget. They included: -- House Resolution 110: set a conservative estimate of revenues that would guide appropriations talks -- House Resolution 156: establishes the percentage of general revenue funds each appropriations committee would have available to work with as budgets were developed -- House Resolution 158: mandated that that any surplus revenues this year would be used to pay of the backlog of unpaid state bills -- House Bills 116, 117, 132, 3639 and 3697: fund the statutorily mandated pension payment, bond debt service payments and group insurance payment for state employees
For the several weeks leading up to the budget votes, Representatives from both sides of the aisle worked together reviewing the budget line-by-line in committee and making the difficult decisions about where cuts could be made. We started by cutting pay raises and administrative costs wherever possible. Moving forward, we must not only balance the budget, but we must find deeper budget reductions and couple them with significant reforms to the pension system. Only with continued discipline will we truly change the culture of overspending that has been too prevalent in Illinois.
Key Issue 3
As a legislator, I took the lead in increasing transparency in government by serving as chief sponsor of the bill that created the Illinois Accountability Portal. The law mandated the establishment of a searchable and user-friendly database, where visitors can look up all state contracts and government expenditures, including employee salaries and tax credits given to businesses. You can visit the web site at http://accountability.illinois.gov. This is one of the most comprehensive accountability portals in the country and it will go a long way to deter cronyism, corruption and gender discrimination in State government. There is still a need in Illinois to overhaul our laws regarding ethical conduct of politicians and State employees. I voted against Speaker Madigan's campaign finance reform bill because it codified current practices and empowered legislative leaders and Party bosses. I believe that Illinoisans deserve better policies than this. The people of Illinois deserve campaign finance limits similar to those that apply to Federal elections.
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?
I worked very closely with the people of District 300 on the Sears issue, but in the end I voted against the tax break bill because I felt the agreement left the taxpayers of District 300 shouldering a disproportionate share of the sacrifice. During negotiations I tried to get a provision added to the bill that would have given District 300 a $2 million school formula tax credit, but the idea was not supported by the majority of my House colleagues. Regarding the bill that ultimately was voted upon, I also took issue with the fact that a select few Illinois companies were receiving significant tax relief while small businesses continued to struggle. The 67% income tax hike that was approved earlier this year generated an estimated $750 million last year from corporate taxpayers, and I simply couldn't support giving nearly half of that back to a select few businesses. I believe a better option would have been a full repeal of that tax increase so that ALL Illinois businesses and workers could have tax relief.
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?
Yes. I voted against the legislation that was labeled ?campaign finance reform? because I didn't think it went far enough. I believe Speaker Madigan's proposal codified current practices and gave too much power to political leaders and party bosses. I support campaign finance caps for individual General Assembly candidates of $2,500 and $5,000 for state-wide candidates. I would also support an initiative to make campaign contributions more accessible on-line though tying the campaign contributions to the new transparency portal. Regarding my support of Republican House Leader Tom Cross, yes, I will continue to support his leadership for our caucus if I am reelected. As Minority Party Leader, he has continually been a conservative voice and has brought common sense to the table. Should the Republicans assume control of the House in 2012, Tom Cross, as Speaker of the House, would bring fiscally responsible spending practices to State government as evidenced by his continual support of changes in the way the State's budget process works.
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 will never rid itself of its status as a 'deadbeat state? until a record of balancing every year's budget has been established, significant pension reform has taken place, and overdue bills are a thing of the past. Legislators took a good first step last year when we passed a balanced budget and supporting legislation that mandated that any revenues over and above what was anticipated would be used to pay down bills. But these are actions that need to be ongoing. Additionally, the privatization of management of some state facilities and institutions, and placing some mildly developmentally disabled people into community-based programs would allow for significant savings. We must also revise labor contracts to reduce the level of pay raises that State employees are now getting. I would also support a line item reduction applied to every agency at 4%. Additionally, I would support managing State assets in a more efficient
manner, such as not using airplanes and reducing the number of fleet vehicles used by State employees.
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?
I do support Leader Tom Cross' efforts for pension reform. With proper amendments, I could be in full support of his bill. However, this bill does not solve Illinois' $80 billion pension deficit, which equates to a more than $25,000 liability per Illinois household. For Illinois to be financially secure, this deficit must be eliminated. I believe the State should establish a pension stabilization fund, and commit 50% of any new gaming revenue to that fund. Additionally, as pension bonds are retired, those revenues should be recommitted to the pension stabilization fund and Illinois should tax all income, except for Social Security income, until the age 65. This would generate $2.5 billion annually for the pension stabilization fund and would allow for the $80 billion obligation to be fully funded in less than 30 years.
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?
It is my opinion that marriage should be defined as one man and one woman, and I do agree that Illinois should define life as beginning at conception. I support concealed carry, which is allowed in 49 other states. I believe the death penalty should be reinstated, provided the number of aggravated circumstances for which it can be used is reduced.