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: Crystal Lake
Office sought: 66th District Representative
Family: Wife, Cathy, and three children: Jared, Lauren and Lindsey
Occupation: State Representative,District 64 Environmental Health Scientist
Education: Graduated North Vigo High School, Terra Haute - 1973 Graduated Indiana State University ? 1978, B.S. in Environmental Health Science
Civic involvement: Past Member Crystal Lake Jaycees 1982-1998, Charter Member Crystal Lake Dawnbreakers
Elected offices held: McHenry County Board Member 1989-2004 McHenry County Board Chairman 1998-2004 Illinois House of Representatives 2004-Present Algonquin Township Precinct Committeeman Algonquin Township Republican Party Chairman McHenry County Republican Party Chairman
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Job Creation Currently, almost 9% of Illinoisans are unemployed (more than 60,000 of them since the 67% tax hike took effect in January of 2011). It is imperative that the State of Illinois become competitive with surrounding states to attract new industry and retain jobs. We need to reform the statutes which deal with workers' compensation, government secured financing and incentives that are offered as tools to attract business. I have sponsored and/or supported legislation in all of these areas. We must also repeal the 67% tax increase. Illinois has created an atmosphere that is very business unfriendly. In spite of passing workers compensation reform, IL continues to have one of the highest WC costs, which is a deterrent for attracting new businesses and expanding existing ones. We must continue to work on solutions to reduce these costs to conform with surrounding states. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the General Assembly and the Governor of Illinois to initiate a process by which we can adopt statues similar to those currently used in the state of Indiana and Missouri. With regard to government secured financing, Illinois passed legislation that requires all government-assisted financing of private projects to pay prevailing wages. I voted against this. This means that any private projects funded by the Illinois Finance Authority or by the nine Economic Development Authorities, or any time federal funds are utilized as an incentive for economic development purposes, prevailing wages must be paid for all private construction projects. Only two states require this (Illinois and Ohio). Therefore, if a multi-national corporation wants to locate in Illinois, we cannot provide financial incentives that are as competitive as our neighboring states. Tax Increment Financing Policies (TIF): I have drafted legislation which would allow special TIF districts based on job creation. These TIF districts would apply to projects which would create 500 or more jobs. In addition to the real estate increment, this law would allow sales tax, utility tax, income tax and special taxes to be utilized as part of the funding mechanisms. A job creation TIF district would be comparable to an enterprise zone, but the financing would have to be retired in 12 ? years. This is similar to TIF legislation that is utilized currently in Missouri.
Key Issue 2
Finance/Budgeting The Illinois budget is adopted in several pieces and I voted in favor of most of them this year. Overall I was pleased with the outcome of this year's budget process because for the first time since I became a legislator, the budget included significant budget reductions in key areas, such as the $2.7 billion reduction to Medicaid. This was accomplished by implementing efficiencies and managed care strategies, and by implementing stringient eligibility politicies. We must continue to look for efficiencies and reductions in State spending, and pension reform that reaches across all five State pension systems, is fair, and which is able to withstand a court challenge must be accomplished when legislators return to Springfield. I have sponsore/cosponsored pension bills over the last few years, only to see them stuffed into the House Rules committee. I am now a chief cosponsor of a new pension bill that is being well received by my colleages.
Key Issue 3
Transparency/Ethics As a legislator, I took the lead in increasing transparency in State government by serving as chief sponsor of the bill that created the Illinois Accountability Portal. The law mandated the establishment of a searchable and user-friendly database, where visitors can look up all State contracts and government expenditures, including employee salaries and tax credits given to businesses. You can visit the web site at http://accountability.illinois.gov. This is one of the most comprehensive accountability portals in the country and it will go a long way to deter cronyism, corruption and gender discrimination in State government. There is still a need in Illinois to overhaul our laws regarding ethical conduct of politicians and State employees. I voted against Speaker Madigan's campaign finance reform bill because it codified current practices and empowered legislative leaders and Party bosses. I believe that Illinoisans deserve better policies than this. The people of Illinois deserve campaign finance limits similar to those that apply to Federal elections.
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?
Any solution to the pension crisis must be fair to all pension system participants and it must be able to withstand a court challenge. It must also reach across all five pension systems. I believe that many of the bills that have been discussed so far would fail in the courts on a challenge. I do not favor a significant pension shift of costs from the State to suburban and downstate taxpayers. Taxpayers did not create the pension mess,and it is not fair to rely on them as the primary source of finances for the fix. Shifting the costs onto the backs of suburban and downstate taxpayers also does not address the fact that the State has over-promised pension benefits for system members. We need reforms, and bipartisan support begins with both sides starting with those elements of reform where we agree, and negotiations can build from there. I have sponsored a few pension bills that have been stalled in the Rules Committee. Recently I signed on as a chief co-sponsor of House Bill 6204. This bill would create a new revenue stream that would be specifically designed for paying down Illinois? unfunded pension liability. As certain bonds mature, the money currently earmarked for those loan repayments would be redirected to the pension fund. The bill would also: ? Provide for an optional defined contribution plan for employees ? Shift a portion of the employer contribution for downstate teachers and university employees from the State to the actual employer ? Establish a 50/50 split of normal cost between the employee and employer ? Create a salary cap for benefits of $106,800 for new hires This bill also tackles the common practice of ?pension spiking,? where in lieu of a pay raise, employees agree to accept a pay raise contingent upon when they retire. This practice increases pension benefits for retiring employees. Under the provisions of House Bill 6204, raises contingent upon retirement dates would not count toward a pension. If adopted, the provisions of House Bill 6204 would allow the pension obligation to be 100% funded by the year 2045, and most importantly, it would be accomplished without a tax increase.
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?
Illinois will never rid itself of its status as a ?deadbeat state? until a record of balancing every year?s budget has been established, significant pension reform has taken place, and overdue bills are a thing of the past. We must also revise labor contracts to reduce the level of pay raises that State employees are now getting. I would also support a line item reduction applied to every agency at 4%. Additionally, I would support managing State assets in a more efficient manner, such as not using airplanes and reducing the number of fleet vehicles used by State employees.
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?
Tax incentives are a good tool for promoting business and jobs. However, the incentives must be fair. I worked very closely with the people of District 300 on the Sears issue, but in the end I voted against the tax break bill because I felt the agreement left the taxpayers of District 300 shouldering a disproportionate share of the sacrifice. During negotiations I tried to get a provision added to the bill that would have given District 300 a $2 million school formula tax credit, but the idea was not supported by the majority of my House colleagues. Regarding the bill that ultimately was voted upon, I also took issue with the fact that a select few Illinois companies were receiving significant tax relief while small businesses continued to struggle. The 67% income tax hike that was approved in 2011 generated an estimated $750 million last year from corporate taxpayers, and I simply couldn?t support giving nearly half of that back to a select few businesses. I believe a better option would have been a full repeal of that tax increase so that ALL Illinois businesses and workers could have tax relief.
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 voted against the legislation that was labeled ?campaign finance reform? because I didn't think it went far enough. I believe Speaker Madigan's proposal codified current practices and gave too much power to political leaders and party bosses. I support campaign finance caps for individual General Assembly candidates of $2,500 and $5,000 for state-wide candidates. I would also support an initiative to make campaign contributions more accessible on-line though tying the campaign contributions to the new transparency portal. Regarding my support of Republican House Leader Tom Cross, yes, I will continue to support his leadership for our caucus if I am reelected. As Minority Party Leader, he has continually been a conservative voice and has brought common sense to the table. Should the Republicans assume control of the House in 2012, Tom Cross, as Speaker of the House, would bring fiscally responsible spending practices to State government as evidenced by his continual support of changes in the way the State's budget process works.
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?
It is my opinion that marriage should be defined as one man and one woman, and I do agree that Illinois should define life as beginning at conception. I support concealed carry, which is allowed in 49 other states. I believe the death penalty should be reinstated, provided the number of aggravated circumstances for which it can be used is reduced. Regarding lame duck sessions, I do not believe any significant votes should occur during this time period. Lame duck votes remove an important layer of accountability.