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City: Hoffman Estates
Office sought: 44th District Representative
Family: Married, two daughters.
Occupation: Real Estate Agent
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Loyola University Chicago, 1980
Civic involvement: Alexian Mental Health Institute Board Member, Children's Advocacy Center of North and Northwest Cook County Board Member, Women in Need Growing Stronger (WINGS) Board Member, Streamwood Park District Foundation Board Member
Elected offices held: Village Trustee, Hoffman Estates, 2005-2006
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
Property Tax Relief As I go door-to-door, one issue I have consistently heard from constituents is the need for property tax relief. Families and senior citizens are finding it harder to stay in their homes as property taxes continue to skyrocket. My district, much like many others, has been hit hard by home foreclosures and property tax relief is a top priority. We can start by passing Senate Bill 2073 that prevents property tax increases when property values decline. This legislation is a first step in providing much-needed assistance to homeowners. Additionally, I will continue to fight to prevent home values from being based on foreclosed properties in neighborhoods. It?s unfair that homeowner?s must pay the consequences of foreclosures in the area.
Key Issue 2
Curtail Spending and Spend Wisely As Chairman of the General Services Appropriation Committee, I have worked to reform the way we craft the state?s budget by going line-by-line and eliminating one billion dollars in wasteful spending. I will continue to work to eliminate the state?s budget deficit and work to restore Illinois? fiscal stability. This past year, I voted for tough new verification standards for Medicaid so those who don?t qualify for benefits are kicked off the program, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars every year. I voted to eliminate free, taxpayer funded health care for retired lawmakers, judges and others. It?s crucial we fully fund the pension systems and work to implement much-needed reforms. Notwithstanding the need to cut and spend wisely, I feel it?s an obligation to address the funding needs for mental health and disability services.
Key Issue 3
Job Creation I will continue to focus on revitalizing both the local and state economy in an effort to spur job creation. I supported legislation that helps business create and retain jobs in Illinois, saves taxpayers an estimated $240 million in interest payments and assists job creators through a new tax relief program. It is initiatives such as these that we must continue to explore to help small businesses grow and improve the local economy. I also want to require companies that take tax breaks and then move jobs out of state or close down to pay back every taxpayer funded benefits they received. I will continue to find ways in which we can eliminate loopholes that corporations and banks unnecessarily take advantage of for their own gain. We must focus on strengthening the middle class and putting people back to work.
How would you fix the state's pension gap? Should pension costs be shifted to suburban school districts? Why or why not? Should this issue be voted on in a lame-duck session? Why or why not? How can partisan gridlock be eased to solve the crisis?
It?s understood by all the people of Illinois, that something must be done to ensure that the pension system remains solvent and those who have paid into the system actually receive retirement benefits. We must have all stakeholders sit down, and craft legislation that is both fair to the taxpayers and to public sector employees. The new education reform law is a prime example of how all parties with differing views can come together, reconcile their differences and find mutual ground to create a strong piece of legislation. Pension reform should follow a similar process and make sure all stakeholders are at the table to ensure everyone?s voice is heard. While we do need to take swift action, there is no easy fix to this problem. Decades of neglect from former governors and General Assemblies, that mismanaged the pension systems and failed to make the required contributions in addition to the negative impact of the recession, has led to the current condition of the state retirement funds. As elected officials and leaders, we must lead by example, especially for pension reform. I supported and helped pass legislation that eliminates free, taxpayer funded health care benefits for retired state legislators, judges and others. Recently, I voted in favor of eliminating pensions for future state lawmakers and voted to drastically reduce pension benefits for current lawmakers. It was unfortunate that more of my colleagues did not support the bill and demonstrated leadership by first looking at our pensions before acting on others. For decades the pension system was underfunded and last spring we took another big step in stabilizing the pension systems by making full payments to all the funds. We must continue to make the full payments on time so we can work to make the pension system more solvent and create greater stability. In 2010, I supported a pension reform bill that will alleviate the pension pressures and is expected to drastically reduce the long-term pension liabilities over time. While I do believe that local governments should be more fiscally responsible in establishing salaries and benefits that impact pension benefits, we should not shift pension costs down to the local levels. Homeowners have been encumbered enough with higher property taxes and should not have to shoulder any more of the burden. Any discussion regarding cost shifts should include the topic of General State Aid and how much our school districts receive on a per pupil basis. The gridlock needs to end. Both the current status of the state?s economy and unfunded liability of the pension systems clearly illustrate it?s time lawmakers and the governor put aside their differences and work to resolve the state?s most pressing issues.
How, specifically, would you cut the budget? What does Illinois need to do to fix its status as a "deadbeat state?" How will you vote on future gambling bills? What is your view of slots at racetracks? Casino expansion?
We must remain committed to spending no more than the state takes in and we have done so the last two years. Given the state?s current fiscal challenges, we must demand accountability in state government and continue to cut spending. As Chair of the General Services Appropriation Committee, I have reviewed each state agency?s budget line by line and made every agency provide justification for their expenditures. We must make these agencies explain their spending and determine whether it is cost-effective and value added. I have led the effort to hold state agencies accountable for poor audit reports and I have cut their funding based on repeated, unsolved findings and mismanagement. It?s imperative that we continue working to eliminate the state?s budget deficit and pay down the back log of unpaid bills and implement budgeting for outcomes. There are many additional possibilities to reduce the state?s budget and improve its economic status. We can eliminate salaries and benefits for boards and commission members, eliminate duplicate services as deemed so by the Auditor General and continue to review taxpayer funded scholarships that place an additional burden on students and schools. This past year, I led the charge to eliminate the oft-abused and unfunded General Assembly Scholarship program. It is programs such as these that we can cut to shore up the state?s budget deficit and restore Illinois? fiscal house. Additionally, through the last couple of years, I have supported many pension reforms that are projected to save taxpayers and the state tens of billions of dollars over the long term. In regards to gaming, as with any legislation I would need to see the specifics of any bill before determining how I cast my vote. I represent a portion of Elgin, which has a riverboat casino, and any legislation creating new casinos or slots at racetracks cannot take away revenue from the Elgin casino. There are many more questions that I would need answered prior to making a decision. Where would the casino(s) be located? What would the effects be on local casinos? How much new money would it raise? What would be the social impact on the state?
What can you do specifically to help the economy in your district? How can you help create jobs in your district and statewide? What is your view of the tax breaks granted to companies like Motorola Mobility, Navistar and Sears?
Businesses that are looking to relocate, expand in Illinois and create jobs need to know that there are economic incentives, such as the EDGE tax credit. Incentives like EDGE tax credits create a better economic environment for businesses to expand and create jobs. We also need to explore new ways to encourage companies that create green jobs to expand and invest in Illinois. This is a growing sector of the state?s economy and also vital to its future. Illinois, while rich in manufacturing, also has agricultural and wind resources that are energy sources needed to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Illinois is the nation?s transit hub and requires that our ports, airports, rail lines and highways are in good shape so they can continue to deliver materials and goods efficiently and effectively. It?s crucial that we invest in roads, bridges and other physical infrastructures that help create jobs and stimulate economic growth. Our educational system is critical to providing a quality workforce. Investing in secondary and elementary schools and continuing to improve our public university system is key to a strong economic future. I have promoted performance based funding for higher education to ensure that we maximize the return on state dollars and also ensure that our students receive a quality education that meets the needs of employers. Illinois has the best and brightest people living and working here. The state also serves as an international hub with resources that not many places in America can claim. Between the many airports, our transcontinental hub, major interstate highways, and ports it?s critical that we do more to improve the business environment and regain Illinois? status as an ideal place to do business. In order to do that, taxes must be low for both the employer and families that live and work here. Illinois will become more attractive to businesses by providing tax relief and demanding fiscal accountability that creates confidence and budget stability. We can offer these by getting our fiscal house in order and providing employers the confidence needed to expand their operations and create jobs in Illinois. I was a key sponsor and one of the major contributors of Senate Bill 397. This bill was critical to the economy of our district, and it was imperative that we pass this legislation to support a major local employer. Failure to do so would have had a detrimental impact on the local economy. The legislation was supported by a number of groups that support job and economic growth, including the Illinois Manufacturers? Association, Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, local chambers, businesses and municipalities in our district. This new law also provided a program of job-creating incentives that all businesses can benefit from, such as the research and development tax credit and the net operating loss deduction. I also ensured that this new law had safeguards such as requiring a certain number of jobs be maintained locally. If the company leaves the state or falls below the threshold then the state assistance ends and must be paid back to the taxpayers.
Do you favor limiting how much money party leaders can give candidates during an election? If elected, do you plan to vote for the current leader of your caucus? Why or why not? Do you support or oppose campaign contribution limits? Please explain.
I support limits on campaign contributions and believe Illinois made major improvements and took a step forward when we adopted reforms to limit campaign contributions from party leaders during the primaries. More must be done and I am open to all ideas; however, any changes that are made must take in to account and curtail any unfair advantages to special interest groups that are not capped and are intent on running negative campaigns. There are many ideas that warrant increased discussion including moving the primary date closer to the General Election, increasing transparency and more frequent disclosures of campaign contributions. We can also look to strengthen the enforcement of campaign laws and mandate the disclosure of large contributions of independent expenditures. Injecting more transparency and sunshine into the process can only serve to improve the election system. In regards to caucus leaders, my only focus is on winning my campaign and listening to local voters about the issues they care most about. From improving the community to fighting rising property taxes, I am focused on the issues facing my community and winning my campaign.
Should gay marriage be legalized in Illinois? Should it be voted on in a lame-duck session as civil unions were? Should Illinois define life as beginning at conception? How would you vote on a concealed carry plan? Should the death penalty return?
I support civil rights for all people and oppose discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, when I talk to local voters, they are more concerned about the recent increases in property taxes, eliminating wasteful spending and creating jobs. That is where I feel I must direct my energy, attention and efforts. The question of when life begins, in my opinion, is a personal matter that should be discussed between a woman, her family and her doctor. I do not support the concealed carry of handguns. Illinois? capital punishment system was far from perfect, as was evident when 18 people on death row were exonerated. It illustrated that innocent people would have been executed and demonstrated that the system needed much improvement. However, in circumstances in which it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that an egregious and heinous crime was committed, and the defendant is found guilty, the death penalty should be an option. Proper safeguards must be in place though to ensure that innocent people are not executed.