Article updated: 9/21/2012 4:30 PM
Sidney Mathias: Candidate Profile
59th District Representative (Republican)
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.
59th District Representative
Married, two children, six grandchildren.
Retired Attorney At Law
South Shore High School, 1962; Roosevelt University, Bachelor of Science in Mathematics,1966 DePaul University College Of Law, Juris Doctor, 1968
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Former Board Member Northwest Suburban Jewish Community Center, Former President and Director Buffalo Grove Park District, Former Soccer Referee Buffalo Grove Chamber of Commerce Member Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce Member Wheeling/Prospect Heights Member Chamber of Commerce Cook County Circuit Court Former Arbitrator College of Lake County, Southeast Regional Planning Council, Member Roosevelt University, Northwest Advisory Board Member Northwest Suburban Alliance on Domestic Violence, Member Village of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, Former Commissioner, Zoning Board of Appeals
Elected offices held:
State Representative for the 53rd House District, 2003-present State Representative for the 51st House District, 1999-2003 Village President, Village of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, 1991-1999 Village Trustee, Village of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, 1988-1991 President, Northwest Municipal Conference, 1996-1997 Sgt-At-Arms, Lake County Municipal League, 1997-1999 Lake County Commissioner, Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, (NIPC), 1997-1999 Director, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County, 1991-1999 First Vice Chair, Executive Council of Mayors, Chicago Area Transportation Study, (CATS), 1996-1999 Chairman, North Central Service (Metra) Mayoral Task Force, 1997-1999 Member, Corridor Planning Council of Central Lake County, 1995-1999 Member, National League of Cities, Transportation & Communications Committee, 1995-1999
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain:
Key Issue 1
Creating jobs both in my district and statewide is one of my highest priorities. In order to create new jobs we must change our tax policies in Illinois. I voted no on the legislation to increase the individual and corporate income tax rates. I have heard from many small businesses that Illinois tax policies are frustrating their efforts to do business in Illinois. One such business owner attacked the policy of net operating loss carryover. As a start up company he incurred substantial net operating losses. Now that his company is finally producing profits he is unable to use these losses in the current tax year. He would have hired new employees with the money saved but instead had to pay corporate income taxes. I am a chief co-sponsor of HB 1897, HB 3100 and HB 3566 which would restore the net operating losses to businesses. Our tax policies and tax rate increases are costing Illinois jobs. Large corporations are either moving out of state or expanding new facilities out of state. I will not vote to extend the tax rate increases past 2014. I am also against allowing the income tax rate increases to phase down as scheduled. They need to be repealed now.
Key Issue 2
Comprehensive pension reform is my number 2 campaign issue. Illinois ranks last in the nation with the worst funded pension systems. We must pass comprehensive pension reform because our payment contributions are rising each year and are eating larger and larger portions of our state budget. These payments are not sustainable. There are a number of solutions to this problem. We need to review the actuarial computations and determine if an increase in contributions by employees is warranted. One of the largest portions of the unfunded pension liability can be attributed to the guaranteed annual 3% compounded cost of living (COLA) increase to pension payments. 40% of unfunded pension liabilities maybe attributed to COLA's. While I believe that a COLA is necessary it should be tied to the actual cost of living. I continue to urge all groups to put their solutions on the table so they can be fully vetted. I also continue to be part of discussions with other lawmakers to come up with ideas to break the stalemate now in Springfield. I am fully committed to working with all stakeholders for comprehensive pension reform to the state's pension systems.
Key Issue 3
Transportation is one of my main priorities that I will continue to address as a state legislator. I am the minority spokesman for the House Mass Transit committee. I am also a member of the Tollway Oversight committee. I am a strong proponent for the extension of Route 53 into Lake County and will continue to promote this much needed road improvement and obtain the necessary funding for this project. I am a member of the Illinois Route 53/120 Blue Ribbon Advisory Council which recently issued its report in favor of the Rt. 53 extension. I testified before the Illinois Tollway Board of Directors urging them to approve the Rt. 53 project. I will continue to seek more transportation dollars for this area of the state for road and transit improvements. In addition to road infrastructure improvements, I am also urging Metra to commence weekend and additional weekday service on its North Central Commuter Line.
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?
Although there is enough blame to go around as to how we arrived at the current pension crisis, some background information is important. In 2005 I spoke out and voted against the under-funding of the state's pension systems by former Governor Blagojevich and the Democratic-controlled legislature. Over a 3 year period of time they failed to pay a required $3.5 billion of the state's share of pension contributions. We were told at that time that for every dollar not paid there would be an additional $13 in unfunded liabilities. So today we face an $83 billion unfunded pension liability and close to $40 billion or almost half of the current unfunded pension liabilities can be attributed to that decision not to pay what was required. Would we still be discussing this issue today with the same sense of urgency had the required payments been made? At the same time our state employees and teachers made all of their required payments into the system. Is it fair or constitutional to now change the benefits that current retirees are receiving after they fully made their commitment but the state did not? I don't believe that is either fair or constitutional under the Illinois Constitutional provision that accrued pension benefits can not be diminished or impaired. Of course there are other reasons for the $83 billion unfunded pension liabilities. The investments of the state pension funds were substantially reduced during the past several years as our economy tanked. The investments are starting to get better and that should provide some relief. Because of advances in healthcare, retirees are living longer and that was not taken into consideration when contributions were determined many years ago. So we need to review the actuarial computations and determine if an increase in contributions by employees is warranted. One of the largest portions of the unfunded pension liability can be attributed to the guaranteed annual 3% compounded cost of living (COLA) increase to pension payments. 40% of unfunded pension liabilities maybe attributed to COLA's. While I believe that a COLA is necessary it should be tied into the actual cost of living. If the price of milk goes up $1 the pension should go up $1 not 50 cents nor $3. This will save billions in unfunded liabilities. It is important to note that as part of the pension reform solution, I supported the legislation that created a two-tier pension system. It applies to all new employees hired after January 1, 2011. This legislation raises the age for retirement to age 67 with a reduced benefit at age 62. It also reduces COLA increases and it prevents a retired employee who is collecting a pension from going back to work under another pension system, commonly referred to as "double dipping." It is estimated that these changes can save the pension systems up to $15 billion. I supported these changes. I will not support a pension plan that includes a "cost shift" to our local suburban school districts. Our local suburban school districts are struggling to balance their budgets and have already terminated employees. Adding additional costs will lead to higher property taxes and/or cuts to essential academic programs and elimination of personnel. We should vote on the issue of pension reform when a comprehensive long term solution is addressed. The piece-meal approach does not work. I am fully committed to working with all stakeholders for comprehensive pension reform to the state's pension systems. Partisan gridlock can be eased and we can solve this crisis. I am a co-sponsor of SB7 which was enacted into law on June 13, 2011. This new law contains major educational reforms. It was the result of many months of tough negotiations with all parties at the bargaining table. The General Assembly members should be proud to be part of the process that has enacted this most important legislation on educational reform in many years. If we can pass major legislation on a controversial issue such as educational reform, we can also pass major legislation regarding pension reform.
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 filed HJRCA8, HJRCA37 and HJRCA47 which are proposed constitutional amendments to abolish the office of Comptroller and allow the functions of that office to be combined with the duties of State Treasurer. This would save our state salaries, including the officeholder's salary. The work can be performed by current workers in the Treasurer's office. The duties will be streamlined and duplication of work eliminated. It is estimated that the savings to taxpayers would be approximately $12 million. We can also reduce spending over a period of time by initially increasing funding for additional community based service programs for those individuals with special needs who can benefit from these services and would no longer need to live in long term care facilities. Illinois has numerous facilities throughout our entire state. We can reduce travel expenses of our state employees by expanding the use of technology such as video conferencing. Further with the initiation of high speed rail we can reduce the need for expensive air travel by our state officials and employees. I would reduce Medicaid spending by utilizing more managed care programs. We will need to increase the numbers of individuals in mandated Medicaid programs which will lower spending and contain costs. Also we will be able to cut additional Medicaid spending by fully implementing the legislation contained in HB5242 which was enacted during the 96th General Assembly. This legislation will detect and root out the tremendous amount of dollars spent due to fraudulent and abusive Medicaid claims. I am a co-sponsor of HB111 which is known as PAYGO budgeting. We must pass this legislation to adopt a budget requirement that the General Assembly will not initiate any new programs or increase spending on existing programs until there are specific revenue sources to pay for any new spending. Of course pension reform will reduce our state's unfunded liabilities by billions of dollars. I also voted in favor of SB1313 which deletes the current formula for retiree health care contributions. We need to implement this legislation quickly since the state's portion of retiree health care costs may reach over $800 million in the next year. Retirees that receive the highest pensions will contribute the most to their health insurance premium costs. The amount of contributions will then be reduced for individuals with lower pensions. A retiree?s length of service will also be a factor in determining an individual's contribution. A joint legislative committee will oversee the rules. I also supported SB 2840 which enacted much needed Medicaid reforms. Medicaid funding is the fastest growing portion of our State budget. It is approximately $11 billion dollars and represents 1/3 of our General Fund Budget. We must quickly implement the provisions of this legislation especially the income eligibility guidelines. It is estimated that income eligibility will save $350 million dollars. Although I have previously and consistently voted against the expansion of gambling in Illinois, I have been a supporter of the Arlington Park Race Track which is adjacent to my district. The track has provided substantial economic benefits to our region including jobs, property taxes for our local schools and business opportunities. The owners of the track have indicated that they may not be able to remain open without the addition of slot machines. It is for this reason that I supported the current gambling bill. I will not support future gambling bills unless the provisions regarding slots remain in the legislation. I would only support the creation of additional casinos if the same legislation also provided for slot machines at Arlington Race Track. Standing alone I would oppose the expansion of new casinos.
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 been a strong proponent of the extension of Rt. 53 into Lake County. This major capital project will create a substantial number of new jobs in my district. It will also create new business and job opportunities once the road is completed. I support programs to enhance Illinois as a leader in research and development which will assist and attract new businesses to my district and statewide and will encourage businesses currently in my district as well as statewide to expand. Targeted tax credits and grants to expand research and development and to assist businesses with the rising costs of health care will help create new jobs. These new jobs will ultimately pay for themselves by increasing our income tax and state sales tax revenues. However before doing anything else, we must change the image and the policies of our state from one that is seen as burdening our businesses with new taxes and fees to a state that encourages new businesses to come to Illinois and further encourages expansion of the businesses that are already here. Our state must be recognized as a state that is willing to work with individual businesses to develop a plan for them to come to Illinois or expand in Illinois. I don?t think we can measure the damage done to our job climate by our former Governor?s plans to enact a gross receipts tax and a payroll tax as well as substantial fees on businesses in prior years at a time when we are lagging far behind 47 other states in job creation. We can?t just blame it on the economy. This new image must start at the top. Sometimes I feel that the Governors of our neighboring states are in better communication with our businesses and employees than our Illinois leaders. One of the fastest ways to create new jobs in Illinois is to quickly implement the projects approved in the capital bill. The capital construction legislation will fund road, mass transit and school construction projects. One of the best economic tools is the Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) which is a job training program already in place but with reduced funding from prior years. We must increase rather than slash funding for job training which helps upgrade workers skills on new technologies resulting in businesses increasing their productivity and reducing their costs. I supported and voted in favor of SB 397 which granted Sears tax credits and extended their EDA. It also changed the way the CME Group determined their revenue from Illinois to a fairer determination. But the bill did much more. It extended R & D credits which are extremely important to Illinois manufacturers. It extended various job tax credits such as the Veterans Jobs credit. It helped family farmers and small business owners with an increase in the estate tax exemption. It also helped businesses by reinstating the net operating loss deduction. All these credits will allow our Illinois businesses to create new jobs. The revenue loss to our state budget will be made up by the taxes paid by the employees with new jobs by way of additional income and sales taxes.
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 am in favor of limiting the amount of money that party leaders can give candidates during an election. I filed HB1688 and HB 5835 which would place the same campaign finance caps on leaders and parties in all elections. Both of these bills were held in the majority party controlled Rules committee and were never assigned to a substantive committee for a hearing. Illinois must do more to regulate campaign fundraising. I opposed SB 1466 and voted no during the 96th General Assembly. Although this legislation was not in effect at the time of the General Election in November 2008, my election at that time indicates what is wrong with the new law. My opponent received 75% of her campaign funding from the State Democratic party and the Speaker of the House while I received only 25% of my campaign funding from The Illinois Republican party and the Minority Leader. Had the new law been in effect I would have been limited in receiving funds from independent sources which comprised 75% of my campaign funding while my opponent was only limited in receiving funds from 25% of her campaign funding sources. This is grossly unfair and has lead to more power and influence being given to the leadership and the state political parties. In order to level the playing field, I would support a bill to impose the same limits on political parties and the leadership in the General Assembly. SB1466 does limit the amount of contributions by leadership and the political parties in a primary election. It only makes sense to extend those same rules to General elections. I also support more timely disclosure of campaign contributions. I filed HB 3110 and HB5092 which extends the 2-day filing requirement of campaign contributions of $1000.00 or more which are received within 90 days of an election rather than 30 days which is the current law. Since the vast majority of campaign finance reports are filed over the internet this bill would not create any substantial burdens on campaign committees. I believe that timely disclosure of campaign contributions is equally as important to caps that limit contributions. I also filed HB 2847 and HB 5093 which would require timely reporting of any contribution of $1,000 or more in the aggregate received from any one source during a quarterly reporting period. Current law only requires the timely reporting of a single contribution of $1000 or more during the quarterly reporting period. If someone contributed $999.00 every day it would not trigger any timely reporting requirement until the quarterly reports are filed which could be after the election takes place. During my fourteen years in the state legislature, I have worked closely with House Republican Leader Tom Cross both in his current position and as an assistant minority leader under former representative Lee Daniels. Based on my observations and experiences, I would without reservation vote for Leader Tom Cross to be the next Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. Tom listens to the members of his caucus and understands that open debate is healthy. He always supports my decisions even if they differ from his. He has tried on numerous occasions to bring together the Governor and the leaders of the other caucuses and has acted as a go-between. In an atmosphere of distrust and acrimony in Springfield, Tom is a shining light who has placed himself above the fracas.
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 believe that major issues should be voted on in a lame-duck session. That's why we now have a 67% increase in the personal state income tax. This additional tax was passed 2 years ago during a lame-duck session of the legislature where the votes of out-going legislators made the difference in passing this increase. The medical profession and not politicians should define the issue of life. I have voted against a statewide concealed carry plan. I would support reinstating the death penalty in Illinois in certain extreme cases such as multiple homicides. We also should develop a higher standard of guilt so that a judge or jury has found a person having the utmost certainty of guilt.
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