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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.
City: Downers Grove
Office sought: 81st District Representative
Family: Wife: Kevan Two children: Clare and Jack
Education: B.A.- University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign J.D.- DePaul University College of Law
Civic involvement: Downers Grove Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry Dist. 58 Foundation Pierce Downer Elementary PTA Downers Grove Moose
Elected offices held: Downers Grove Village Council 2003-2007 Mayor, Village of Downers Grove 2007-2011 State Senate 21st Dist., Nov. 2010 - present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
Restoring Illinois as the Midwest's economic engine and the best place for business to thrive and create jobs. I have no higher priority than getting people back to work and creating an inviting business environment. With an unemployment rate that continues to hover near double-digits, job creation is critical. Unfortunately, Illinois has become a toxic environment for business. Our State has high taxes, excessive regulation, and cumbersome legal requirements that chase businesses to more welcoming states. After the recent irresponsible 47% income tax increase on businesses, that toxic environment got even worse. Legislators in Springfield need to work across the aisle to bring jobs back to Illinois. We need to cut taxes on businesses, reduce artificial impediments and unnecessary regulations, and view the private sector as a partner, not a revenue source. Growing our economy and expanding opportunities for new jobs is the best and most dependable way to raise revenues-growing our tax base by creating more taxpayers, rather than taxing, borrowing and spending and then taxing yet again to provide needed revenue for State services. If we grow good-paying jobs at home we will increase tax revenue while putting our friends and neighbors back to work.
Key Issue 2
Reasonably reforming the five State pension systems. The time for action is now. The five State pension funds supported by taxpayers are woefully underfunded and continue to crowd out room in the State budget for necessary services. Sensible reform is needed for public employees and taxpayers, because if we do nothing it will necessitate draconian cuts to the budget and additional job-killing tax hikes. Unlike typical politicians, I am leading by example when it comes to pension reform. I declined to participate in the State pension system or accept the State?s healthcare benefits. Part time legislative positions should not receive full time benefits, especially since we are to act as public servants. I want to end legislative pensions and work to reasonably fix the State pension funds so that they are not an unfair burden upon taxpayers of this State. In that regard, I have filed a bill which would end legislative pensions going forward and I am the Senate sponsor on one bill and chief co-sponsor on two others that reasonably reform the four other State pension plans. We must reform pensions; we have an obligation to taxpayers, because this is their money, and to public employees, because if we do nothing they may ultimately receive nothing.
Key Issue 3
Restructuring the State's budget for long-term sustainability. State government has been living beyond its means for far too long, and constant borrowing has only bought Illinois the worst credit status in the nation. We must stop burdening our children and grandchildren with crushing debt and do what families all over are being forced to do: tighten our belt. It is time to look for real savings, foster some accountability and re-establish trust by undertaking a forensic audit of the state's most waste-prone programs. This will allow for informed debate on where the cuts need to be made without hurting the people who rely on the services provided. We need to get spending in line with tax revenues before this crisis deepens and becomes unmanageable, which means at minimum a 10% spending cut from top to bottom. Accepting the status quo with anything having to do with our State is a costly mistake.
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?
I was the Senate's chief co-sponsor of HB 3813 seeking to curb certain pension abuses and am the sole sponsor of SB 2498 seeking to end all legislative pensions going forward. I was the first member of the General Assembly (and the only one in the Senate) to decline my legislative benefits (pension and health care). I believe part-time, service oriented positions do not deserve a full time, career-oriented benefit; besides the State cannot afford it. Leading by example in this regard, I have pledged to support SB 512 as well as other reasonable bills to fairly restructure the five public pensions without affecting earned retiree benefits and at the same time making the funds financially sustainable.
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?
The Senate Republicans laid out a plan to cut the budget and roll back the tax increase, Illinois Reality Check, which can be viewed at http://illinoisrealitycheck.com/theplan/. I fully support the specific cuts detailed in this plan. This includes reducing redundancies in government, from eliminating the Lieutenant Governor position and combining the State Treasurer?s and Comptroller?s offices to reducing the number of local units of government in Illinois (we have more units of local government than any other state in the nation). On gambling, I voted against the recent gaming bills as they were too expansive, but I would be open to considering a Chicago casino and slots at racetracks, provided both were in strict compliance with existing rules by the Illinois gaming authority.
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?
My district is a suburban district suffering from the same factors that are hurting businesses, killing jobs, and over-burdening taxpayers all throughout Illinois. We must make our State an inviting atmosphere for economic activity so that we can create jobs for what many believe is one of the most talented workforces in the nation. This requires common-sense actions such as creating a level playing field for businesses, which is why I voted against the Sears/CME bill which I believe to be an example of short-sighted corporate favoritism rather than sound fiscal policy. It is the small businesses that will lead the way out of this recession, and by reducing the tax and regulatory burden on these entrepreneurial individuals we can allow them to do what they do best.
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.
No, because this type of reform is simply a band-aid to a much larger problem. There are far better ways to fashion effective reform: term limits for all legislators. We have abundant evidence of what State government looks like being run by career politicians only focused on getting re-elected. With reasonable term limits we can be once again be governed by citizen-servants. To that end, I filed SJRCA41 which provides a maximum 10-year term limit for service in each chamber of the General Assembly.
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 do not favor moving beyond civil unions and know most people in my district agree. The Supreme Court has spoken on the issue of abortion and I do have some concern about Federal preemption, but I could support such a definition of life. Illinois is now the only State to not have a reasonable concealed carry law, and that should change. I strongly support passing a reasonable concealed carry in Illinois. I voted to end the use of the death penalty because it was flawed as used in Illinois. Over 20 innocent people have been wrongfully sentenced to death in Illinois, and I cannot support a system where even a single innocent person is put to death. Additionally, the cost is prohibitive at over $110 million, so with the moratorium in place we were paying for a system that was not in use. Once these mistakes are corrected and effective safeguards are in place to prevent corruption and mistake, I could support the reinstatement of a death penalty used judiciously, fairly, and, most importantly, correctly.