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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.
Office sought: 42nd District Representative
Family: Married for 24 years, five children
Occupation: Senior tax advisor for small businesses and individuals, bookkeeper for small law firm
Education: BS in Economics from the United States Military Academy, West Point Various tax, accounting and finance courses from NIU
Civic involvement: Cross Country Coach for St. Michael School Parent Volunteer for St. Michael School and CUSD 200 St. Michael Church Volunteer
Elected offices held: Wheaton City Councilwoman, 2011-present Milton Township Republican Committeewoman, 2004-present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Pension Reform Unfortunately, I respond to this question in the same manner as I did seven months ago because, despite going through an entire legislative session and just recently a special session, the elected officials at the state level have failed to reform pensions in Illinois. Moody's downgraded our credit rating to the lowest of any other state. They have no confidence that our current leaders will control pension spending and pay our liabilities. Immediate and comprehensive pension reform must happen. Rhode Island is an example of the type of reform we need in Illinois. The last time the GOP controlled the General Assembly, it passed a pension funding plan in 1995; the Democrats have failed to follow it. Ignoring the situation doesn?t protect current or retired employees; the delay will only make the eventual fix harsher. Pension reform must occur for both current and retired workers, especially in the area of eliminating COLAs and asking retirees to contribute more to their healthcare costs. Failure to make significant reforms in this area soon will lead more businesses and individuals to leave the state as the funding burden increases.
Key Issue 2
Budget Cuts and a Restructuring of Government Spending. 1.Real Pension/Benefit Reform. Move all current and new employees into a defined contribution program where all funding takes place in the current year and where the employer contribution is in line with the private sector and the taxpayers that support it. Stop accruing additional pension benefits earned under the old system, suspend the COLA associated with those pensions until the fund is sustainable, and then fund it as required in the 1995 pension fix. Require employees to contribute more to the cost of their healthcare premiums, and eliminate the accumulation of sick and vacation days for payouts and/or service credits. Freeze state employee pay. 2.Eliminate legislative pensions. The symbolism of eliminating this benefit is more important than the dollars saved, but I?ll take the savings too. 3.Rethink Medicaid in Illinois. Between 2000 and 2010 the number of people in Illinois on Medicaid increased 80 percent. Control spending in this area by moving to a market-based solution that includes a premium support system for health insurance purchase into a HSA. Rollback eligibility standards and support it with a graduated income standard. Enforce the recent Medicaid reforms, strictly verify eligibility, and prosecute Medicaid fraud to the fullest extent possible. 4.Overhaul the state grant system. In Wheaton we received a $15,000 grant from the Department of Commerce and Economic Development to repair a residential street on which no commerce (unless you include school district headquarters) is conducted. I am certain this misuse of funds happens all the time. The Illinois Policy Institute has put forth the idea of a competitive grant program which limits the pool of money eligible for small grants (those grants under $5 million) and makes organizations compete annually for that money based on previous results, documented outcomes, or in the case of new grants, the purpose and likelihood of success. The Illinois Policy Institute believes this could save $200 million. 5.Comprehensively review all spending for its appropriateness and effectiveness. Just recently there have been numerous reports about legal, but unfair, payouts from the state pension plans by union bosses and even Mayor Daley. The latest possible misuse of funds is related to the investigation of Representative Connie Howard?s not-for profit organization that received state funds and where no documentation of expenses can be found. Almost weekly, Illinois taxpayers are informed of abuses of the system by those elected to protect taxpayers. I would not rule out spending money to fully audit all state spending. We would more than likely recoup any audit costs with savings found.
Key Issue 3
Repeal the 2011 Tax Increase. This tax increase was a fraud. Passed in a lame duck session, late at night, with legislators who had not been re-elected, the tax increase failed as sold to Illinois residents. They did not use it to pay off unpaid bills which seven months ago were estimated at $8.5 billion and have increased 100 million per month for a total of $9.2 billion! Almost all of the revenue from the tax increase went to make a pension payment and then Governor Quinn borrowed more. The tax increase delayed the discussion of serious pension and budget reform.
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?
The solution is multi-faceted. First, pension shift is not pension reform. Pensions should be the responsibility of local government over time, and with pensions going forward, and as current teacher contracts expire. This process should be phased in and planned for. Local payment of all pay and benefits increases transparency. But if it is paid locally, it must be negotiated and controlled locally, not ?one size fits all?. That leads to the worst of both worlds ? state lawmakers setting benefits and handing the bill to others. As we have seen, the state of Illinois has not fully funded the pension system for the last 10 years and pension ?sweeteners? have been added that are unsustainable. Ultimately pensions should be designed at the local level. This way the responsible unit of government is clear. There is no ability to cost-shift. The design and negotiation occurs locally where the people impacted have chosen to stake their ground and make their lives and thus have the greatest interest in the benefits and obligations they provide to teachers, police, fire, etc. Second, the previous pension obligation should not be fully pushed down to the local districts after having been mismanaged by the state. Excessive pension amounts, mostly given to administrators, should have a portion of the pension moved back to local districts with a phased in approach. Third, eventually, public sector employees must move to a defined contribution program. The unions were and continue to be complicit in the negotiation for benefits the taxpayers cannot afford and that are out of sync with private sector pay and benefits. No important or controversial issues should be voted on in lame-duck sessions. The partisan gridlock will be eased when new leaders and legislators are elected OR when the situation gets even worse so that there is no ability to stall anymore.
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?
Please see my specific answers to budget cuts in Campaign Issue number 2. Illinois needs to pay for its services in a timely manner. Getting rid of $9.2 billion is back bills will not be easy. The first step is to not accumulate more unpaid bills by making significant and real spending cuts which allows those dollars saved to pay down current liabilities. I would set aside in the budget a specific amount that must be used to pay down our past bills and not allow the carry-over of current year expenditures into next budget year as is the practice now. Gambling: I do not believe there is a shortage of gambling opportunities in Illinois. I would support allowing relocation of existing licenses subject to the right of local communities to opt out, as provided in the video gambling law. Gambling operations should be located in places that capture a market that looks for this type of entertainment. Slots at race tracks that have a long established gambling presence makes sense. Locating a casino in Chicago where tourists are present also makes sense. I would advocate, not for expansion, but for the relocation of a currently licensed casino to a Chicago location to capture that market. Gambling should not be looked at a source of new revenue that legislators can spend. Our focus needs to be on reducing spending and expanding government revenues through real business growth.
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?
Government creates the climate for job growth when it sets fair, simple and clear rules and then gets out of the way of private sector job creators. We need immediate and comprehensive pension reform, spending cuts, and a repeal of the 2011 tax increase. We only need to listen to the business community to know that the tax increase was a job killer and the state?s decade of budget mismanagement has created uncertainty that is adding to the problem. I support tax relief on an equal basis for all employers, including small businesses that are the main engine of economic growth. If you start to identify a piece of legislation by the name of a specific business, such as the ?Sears/CME bill? it is an indication of favors being handed out. I do not blame the leadership of the companies that received special deals for lobbying the legislators and governor for those deals. They have a bottom line that must be met. They have fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders and employees. The problem is a system created by the politicians that treats similarly situated businesses (and individuals) differently. We should be a state where businesses are treated equally before the law and succeed or fail based not upon the quality of their political clout but rather based on the quality of the product or service they provide. At this point, the state's responsibility is to provide the right infrastructure and climate that allows all businesses to flourish.
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.
Party leaders should comply with the same contribution limits and disclosure requirements that political action committees have to comply with in both the primary and general election cycles. The Republican party has many talented leaders. I am open to a leadership change in our caucus but would want to evaluate all possible candidates before committing to who that may be or whether it stays the same. The military often moves their leaders around after 2 or 3 years. They realize that you have to develop younger leaders and that no one person is indispensable.
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 am not in favor of gay marriage. Illinois has a DOMA statute that properly prohibits the marriage between two people of the same sex. Nothing controversial should be voted on in a lame-duck session. Life does begin at conception. Our state legislature can not overturn Roe v. Wade. That said, Attorney General Madigan should stop blocking the enforcement of the parental notification law that passed the General Assembly over 15 years ago. I am in favor of concealed carry laws. We are the only state without some form of right-to-carry provision for law abiding citizens. I would not vote for reinstatement of the death penalty