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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.
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Office sought: 30th District Senate
Family: Married. I have four daughters and three sons in law and three grandchildren.
Occupation: Full-time State Senator
Education: Attended Stout State University
Civic involvement: Board Chairman, Friends of the Historic Genesee Theatre Member of the Foundation Board of the College of Lake County Board member of Nicasa
Elected offices held: Illinois state Senate Chairman, Democratic Party of Lake County
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: Traffic violations.
Key Issue 1
Key Issue 2
Key Issue 3
Consolidation of local units of government
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?
First and foremost, we must continue making the required pension payments. I?ve supported the process we?ve used the past two years in which that payment is one of the first things resolved in the state budget so the opportunity doesn?t exist to borrow or raid the pension fund to pay for other programs. That said, our current situation is unsustainable. Without changes, the state budget is at risk of turning into a financial document devoted to paying for benefits rather than funding public services like schools, health care and public safety. I have supported and worked to pass responsible reforms that account for constitutional protections. My interest here is protecting the retirement security of past, current and future public sector employees. This past session I supported reforms (HB1447) to the General Assembly pension system and the retirement plan for state workers. I recognize that the remaining pension systems also need to be addressed but want to make sure that the state doesn?t simply dump its responsibilities onto schools and local taxpayers. I believe the teacher pension system should be part of a broader discussion about school funding, property taxes and fairness for all involved. I also supported HB 3813, which closed several pension loopholes that union officials had abused. Previously, I supported creation of the second tier retirement system for new public sector employees at both the state and local levels. I have voted to support pension reforms and remain ready to do so whenever an agreement can be reached. Over the years, I have been part of and helped piece together numerous bipartisan agreements while serving in both the political majority and minority of the Senate and hope that continued discussions will soon bring compromise and resolution on this issue as well.
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?
There are specific budget cuts and spending reforms that I am ready to support including: Overhauling the state?s economic development agency, DCEO to bring in more private sector professionalism. Consolidation of units of local government and school districts. Greater scrutiny of the billions worth of grant programs controlled by the governor?s office. Continued examination of ?other state funds? in the Illinois budget, with the goal being to review and consolidate those funds and prioritize spending and available revenues. The state needs to continue to look to cut spending and set aside money to pay old bills. The current budget contains nearly $1 billion specifically set aside to begin catching up on those overdue payments. As for gaming legislation, I intend to continue to sponsor such legislation. I support slots at racetracks in an effort to promote economic development and give a boost to the state's agriculture industry and also support expanding the number of casino licenses operating in Illinois as too many of our neighboring states currently take advantage of our reluctance and prop up their budgets with dollars from Illinois residents visiting the casinos just across our borders.
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?
I have long advocated for a casino entertainment development in the greater Waukegan area as part of the original intent of helping economically struggling communities. I have supported and will continue to support funding for infrastructure programs to repair and expand the roads, bridges, schools and other projects needed to maintain the community and attract economic growth. I supported legislation intended to keep Sears and CME Group headquartered in Illinois. With Sears, the issue was the potential loss of thousands of quality jobs, a loss I didn't think the suburbs could afford to lose. With CME, the issue was one of adjusting our tax code to fit the modern nature of that business. It was a change that should have been made years ago and makes it clear that we need to do a full review of our tax laws to make sure they are up to date. I supported the incentives for Navistar and consider our ability to bring the added jobs from Indiana to our suburbs a major economic development success for Illinois. At the same time, as I mentioned above, we need to review our tax code and available incentives to ensure they are meeting the intended goals, which in my mind should be maintaining and creating jobs. If they aren't, then we should target those incentives and tax breaks for elimination. I believe Illinois should conduct a full, public review of all breaks and incentives in an effort to inform the public and streamline our tax code to meet the state's economic goals.
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.
Yes. I have supported legislation to impose campaign finance limits and restrictions in Illinois. And as much as I disagree with the U.S Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, it is the law of the land. The problem we face is that so-called independent interest groups cannot be limited in how much they spend under that ruling. While many restrictions sound good, the end result could be giving these interest groups even greater influence over our electoral process. Even worse, these groups don?t face the same disclosure requirements in telling the public where they get their money. I want to limit the role of money in politics, but we must be careful not to tie the hands of responsible candidates given the system the U.S. Supreme Court has created. If elected, I do plan to support the current caucus leader. I believe that since becoming Senate President in 2009 that Senator Cullerton has empowered individual members to have more say in the process and together we've been able to take steps forward on several important issues and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to make needed progress.
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 would want to see how such legislation is drafted and any such proposal deserves a full and lengthy public debate. I do not support the carrying of concealed loaded weapons. I do not support reinstating the death penalty.