For Richard Slocum, how Illinois handles money is the most important issue in his campaign for the Republican nomination for the 25th District state Senate seat.
And he knows the consequences of state laws and the state's fiscal irresponsibility, Slocum says, because of the 16 years he spent on the West Aurora school board. Unfunded mandates to do this and that cost the district money, on top of cuts in state aid and delays in reimbursements.
"We have a state that is broke," Slocum says.
But he doesn't support Gov. Quinn's proposal for the state to shift its teacher pension fund contribution responsibility to local districts. "That's wrong," he says.
Slocum, 61, an attorney from Sugar Grove, says both his school board and professional experience make him suited to work in the General Assembly including, when warranted, listening to the ideas of Democrats.
"I've been a problem-solver, and I'm good at it," he says. During his school board tenure, he was president for four years.
One way the state could fix its finances is to examine, and reduce, its Medicaid spending, he says. "It is going to suck up our entire budget."
Slocum says if he is elected, he would try to immediately repeal the 2010 state income tax hike, and push for lower corporate income taxes. He calls the state's business taxes "unpredictable," and that hurts the state's ability to keep and attract businesses, he says.
Slocum is highly critical of recent tax break deals the state made with large companies such as Sears and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. "As a small-business owner, I find Springfield's piecemeal granting of corporate tax breaks offensive. It appears to the taxpayer that the larger corporations with more power and money are able to get the tax breaks," he says.
He's been criticized by Richmond regarding District 129's policy of letting staff members carry over unused sick days, of contributing to teachers' pensions and of giving retirement incentives. Slocum says the district did it to develop staff loyalty and encourage teachers to stay with the district, rather than leaving for districts that paid better.
But he also believes that teachers' pensions must be reformed to contain the state's costs. He says this, even though his wife is a school social worker, his daughter a school psychologist and his sister a retired teacher.
"The teachers have to understand ... you have to be in the mix, or eventually there will be nothing for no one," Slocum says.