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: Lake Barrington
Office sought: 26th District Senate
Family: Married with five children.
Occupation: Small business owner. I currently own two small businesses.
Education: B.A. Augustana College
Civic involvement: Yes...many organizations
Elected offices held: State Senate
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Job Creation - Many politicians say they want to create jobs. However elected officials can only create government jobs - which must be paid for by taxpayers. Our government should provide an atmosphere where the real job creators, small businesses, can thrive. We need less taxation, less regulation, and less litigation. Small businesses create 80% of all new jobs. This is because new products and markets are created by individuals willing to take risk and invest hard work to realize a dream. Examples of this abound in our country. Apple was a small business 35 years ago. Google was a small business 14 years ago and Facebook was a small business 8 years ago. How can the government create a pro-business atmosphere? The government must provide a fair and stable business environment. We do not have a fair and stable business environment in Illinois. Last year, Gov. Quinn and the Democrats increased the income tax by 67%. When large companies like The Chicago Board of Trade, among others, threatened to leave the state, they received a special tax deal. I refer to those deals as ?corporate welfare?. Meanwhile small companies, which provide most of the jobs in our state, got stuck paying the higher taxes putting them at a competitive disadvantage and making it difficult for them to survive in today?s economy. The politically connected and powerful get special deals while everyone else has two basic options: pay up - or leave the state. One needs only to cross the state line to Wisconsin or Indiana to see all the companies that have moved from Illinois. The solution is to have lower taxes for ALL businesses ? large and small. We must eliminate corporate welfare and stop legislators from picking ?winners and losers?. We must also reduce the barriers the State creates from the crazy maze known as our ?workman?s compensations system? that only helps create jobs for Illinois lawyers. Our workers compensation laws drastically discourage corporate expansion in Illinois. Reducing corruption and balancing the budget are also required if we want to spur job growth in Illinois. Both - corruption and balancing the budget - are also top priorities for me.
Key Issue 2
Balance the Budget - Balancing the budget and corruption go hand-in-hand since billions of dollars in Illinois disappear in our corrupt system. Job creators are not going to start, expand, or stay in Illinois if we do not get our budget under control. We are on the brink of bankruptcy and job creators are aware of our situation. They also know that if a state cannot pay its bills, it is only a matter of time before the infrastructure starts deteriorating, crime increases, and talented workers move away. There is no incentive to risk starting a business in Illinois with the precarious financial situation of the state along with the largest city, Chicago, ranked as the most corrupt city in America. Job creators and innovators understand the significance of falling bond ratings. Right now, we are essentially using a credit card to pay our credit cards. Governor Quinn and the Democrats are blatantly violating the Illinois Constitution, which requires a balanced budget. Last year Governor Quinn and the Democrats tried raising taxes to balance the budget and the deficit increased. Illinois needs fundamental reform in order to survive. Tax increases are not the answer.
Key Issue 3
Exposing Corruption - Four of the last seven governors from Illinois have gone to jail. That is more than the remaining 49 states added together. It is the first time in the history of the United States that two governors - from one state - are in prison at the same time. But the corruption doesn?t stop there. Public corruption in Cook County and the City of Chicago is legendary. We have become a punch line for late night comedians. It?s embarrassing and shameful. Corruption in Illinois is unpredictable. A small business owner never knows when he/she is going to be shaken down for a new business regulation ?expense / tax? ? or how much it will cost. When it happens there is no place for them to go to report the corruption because the whole system is corrupt. Uncertainty will strangle even the most stable business plans and impede job growth. Corruption occurs regularly in our state yet how many cases of public corruption have the Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, prosecuted? Are we to believe our corruption problem was solved when the second Governor went to jail? Is it now completely the responsibility of the Federal government to prosecute corruption in Illinois? Imagine if our local judicial system was also properly pursuing corruption. As a State Senator I have been vigilant in shining a light on the cozy relationship between the Governor?s campaign contributors and the appointments they receive to high paying state boards and commissions. Ultimately, the power to root out corruption rests with the voters. As long as the voters in Illinois tolerate it, it will continue. However I will continue to work hard to expose corruption.
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?
We need fundamental reform of our pension system and we should show leadership by starting with the legislative pensions (for elected representatives and senators) by eliminating double dipping, capping pension payments, reducing the COLA?s, and increasing the retirement age. I believe we could get overwhelming public support for this which could force bi-partisan cooperation. Once the legislators have reformed themselves, they would have more strength to ask other groups to participate in reform. Pension costs are driving our state to insolvency. The problem will not go away just because Springfield leaders refuse to tackle it. Pensions should be our top priority and should be tackled immediately ? in the lame duck session if necessary. It is unfair to shift pension costs to suburban school districts. The legislature has determined many of the pension benefits and has failed to meet its funding obligations. Shifting pension cost to suburban school districts will raise property taxes through the roof. However if a local school district chooses to increase benefits for its employees above what the state mandates - and if they purposely manipulate the pension system (i.e. salary sweeteners / bumps shortly before retirement) - then it seems appropriate for them to cover the increased costs. We currently have a broken system. Special interest groups, representing public pension recipients, go to Springfield and dole out generous campaign contributions in return for increased pension benefits. Meanwhile the same legislature which has increased the cost of pensions, have failed to make the payments to fund them. The Democrats have held the majorities in the House, Senate and the Governors office for many years. During regular session they have had the ability to pass any bill they want ? whenever they want to. They have never passed a pension reform bill because the political will is not there to disappoint their top campaign contributors. As the minority spokesperson for the Senate Pension & Investments Committee, I have been a very vocal advocate fighting for fair and constitutionally accurate pension reforms since the day I took office.
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?
I do not support expansion of gambling in the State of Illinois. Gambling is an unstable, unreliable revenue source. Casinos on every corner will not solve our budget problems and would have a negative impact on the quality of life for our families. We need to make the state more efficient ? not just cut the budget. One of the largest costs to the state is Medicaid. We need to implement the recent changes the legislature has passed in Medicaid cuts. We have limited resources and Medicaid should be used to serve only our neediest citizens. Government efficiencies can be achieved by eliminating duplicate programs and by examining whether current programs work. We must cut out all the wasteful spending. We need to cut current state operational costs by implementing electronic data interchange (EDI) immediately. We are in a crisis. Every expenditure needs to be on the table and scrutinized for effectiveness and efficiency.
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 opposed the tax increase for ALL companies, not just the large, powerful or politically connected companies. I am completely opposed to corporate welfare or special tax breaks. State legislators should not be picking which companies ?win? and get a special tax break, and which companies ?lose? and have to pay their taxes as the law dictates. What kind of business environment does this create? This only encourages companies to hire a lobbyist, pay large campaign contributions ? or move out of the state. My concern is for all job creators, innovators and entrepreneurs ? many of whom have voted with their feet and moved to Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, or Missouri. The pension liability, our lowered bond rating, corruption, AND higher taxes are all contributing to our failure to get our state economy moving forward. I have evaluated every single bill since I have been in office and have voted based on whether or not each bill would encourage job growth, fight corruption and keep taxes low. I have never made any deals or agreements with ANY special interest group(s) and have consistently represented the people of our district.
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 favor full and timely disclosure of all campaign funds. The internet allows us to have access to contributions in real time with proper software (which Illinois does not have yet). Politicians in Springfield have set up a labyrinth of legal limits that favor incumbents and party leaders. It would be better to have campaign donations go directly to candidates (assuming we can have real transparency) than to go through the political parties, its leaders or third party shadow organizations. Concentrating power in the hands of a few people makes the political system less responsive to the people and very difficult to change those in the top leadership positions. I completely support term limits for legislative leaders and legislators themselves. I fully support removing Michael Madigan as Speaker of the House. His forty two years in office are long enough. Through Madigan?s leadership, he has absolutely decimated our states reputation and economy.
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 did not run for office to advocate for-or-against any specific social issues. I ran for office to encourage job growth, fight corruption, and keep taxes low. If you want my opinion on these social issues, I am more than happy to give it to you. I do not support gay marriage. The US Supreme Court has established what states can and cannot legislate with regards to abortion. I support concealed carry. Crime has dropped in every state that implemented a concealed carry law. Illinois is the only state in American which does not allow concealed carry in one form or another. A ?life sentence? should mean just that ? life in prison without parole. I support prison without perks. Criminals that have committed the most heinous crimes against humanity should not have access to a cell phone and cable TV in prison. I supported repealing the flawed death penalty system in Illinois which cost the state untold millions.