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updated: 9/21/2012 4:30 PM

Scott Drury: Candidate Profile

58th District Representative (Democrat)

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  • Scott Drury, running for 58th District Representative

      Scott Drury, running for 58th District Representative

 

 

 

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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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BioKey IssuesQ&A

 

Bio

City: Highwood

Website: http://www.drury2012.com

Office sought: 58th District Representative

Age: 39

Family: I have been married to my wife, Shelby, since 2000. We have two children. Our son is 10. Our daughter is 7. They are both enrolled in the local public school.

Occupation: I am a former federal prosecutor who worked under U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald for over seven years. I currently work as an attorney in private practice at Reed Smith LLP. I am also an adjunct professor at Northwestern University School of Law.

Education: BA ? University of California, Berkeley, 1995 ? High Honors JD ? Northwestern University School of Law, 1998 ? Cum Laude

Civic involvement: Advisor ? Deerfield High School Mock Trial Team Park District of Highland Park ? Baseball coach AYSO ? Coach Edgar Fellows Program - Fellow (2012) League of Women Voters ? Member Congregation Solel ? Member

Elected offices held: None

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: In high school, there was an incident that I believe resulted in a violation of a local ordinance and one that I believe was dismissed, although I do not recall for certain.

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

The Budget. Illinois must reform its budgeting process to ensure truthful, honest and balanced budgets ? not ones filled with political gimmicks. Illinois must become fiscally responsible. To do this, Illinois? budgeting process and accounting procedures need to more accurately reflect actual reality, not ?Springfield reality.? Examples of ?Springfield reality? are: (a) Section 25 of the State Finance Act (?Section 25?), which allows current year expenditures to be pushed into a future year?s budget; (b) borrowing or sweeping money from special funds and calling the budget balanced; and (c) not requiring a final Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (?CAFR?) for the previous fiscal year before preparing and voting on the next fiscal year?s budget. Illinois cannot demonstrate fiscal responsibility without truth in budgeting. Truth in budgeting requires either the elimination (or severe reduction in the number) of special funds or the inclusion of these funds in the budget. Absent such steps, the ?budget? is not transparent. Truth in budgeting also requires the elimination of budgeting gimmicks such as Section 25 as a budgeting tool. Truth in budgeting requires that estimated revenue figures be grounded in reality ? something that can be accomplished by requiring a final CAFR before a proposed budget is presented and voted on. Truth in budgeting requires that the actual long-term cost of any program/action be accounted for regardless of when the cost accrues. Once truthful budget figures are determined, the true financial imbalance between the State?s revenues and expenditures will become clear, and we can have a meaningful discussion of priorities to attain a balanced budget. This process will result in fiscal responsibility.

Key Issue 2

Jobs and the Economy. Equally important to reforming the state?s budgeting process is bringing jobs back to Illinois and strengthening its economy. As a candidate, I have continually sought input from business leaders throughout the Chicagoland area on how to create job growth in Illinois. I have learned that business leaders do not view Illinois as a good place to start a new business because of an uncertain regulatory environment, as well as the uncertainty presented by Illinois? tenuous economic situation. Illinois? economic uncertainty makes business leaders fear that the state will continually increase business taxes to generate needed revenue. Demanding fiscal responsibility and truth in budgeting, as described above, are critical steps in bringing jobs back to Illinois and strengthening its economy. Illinois must also become a leader in the provision of green energy to other parts of the country in order to bring new green jobs and industry here. Illinois has access to wind, water and sunlight. Its central location makes it ideal for the delivery of green energy to the rest of the country.

Key Issue 3

Education. Illinois must provide a quality public education to all children. Too often, education is viewed as an expense. In reality, education is an investment in Illinois? future that will provide great returns down the road. On the other hand, failing to provide a quality public education will ultimately be a drain on the state?s resources as the uneducated population grows and becomes dependent on state programs.

Questions & Answers

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?

When it comes to pensions, it is important to strip away the emotion and focus on the facts: ? The aggregate unfunded liability of the state?s pension system is at least $80 billion, and likely higher. ? It is projected that by 2013, over $5.2 billion (or 15%) of General Revenue funds will be paid to pension contributions, up from approximately $1.7 billion (or 6%) in 2008. ? Public workers, such as teachers, did not cause the problem. Like taxpayers, they have paid what was asked of them. While there have been a few bad apples that have taken advantage of the pension system (e.g., end of career pension spiking), they are the exception, not the norm. ? The pension problem has resulted from years of neglect and irresponsibility by legislators, political parties and governors ? both Republican and Democratic. ? The Executive Director of the Illinois Teachers Retirement System (?TRS?) has raised concerns that the TRS could be insolvent by 2029. ? In 2011, Illinois put in place a ?Tier 2? pension plan for new hires that provided for new benefits. This was an important first step in helping solve the pension problem. ? There is no quick, easy fix. In talking with teachers, law enforcement officers and other public workers, it is clear that they do not want their pension systems to become insolvent. I believe that the avoidance of insolvency is a common goal. Thus, we must come up with a way to avoid insolvency both now and in the future. The quick fix of raising taxes without fundamental reforms does not achieve this goal. Moreover, Illinois is not in a position to raise taxes due to its demonstrated failure to be fiscally responsible, and its lack of credibility with voters. To achieve lasting, meaningful reform, it is important for all interested parties and stakeholders to work together to accomplish the common objective of maintaining the solvency and sustainability of the pension systems. We recently saw such collaboration with Senate Bill 7. It is likely the case that the resolution that achieves the best result for the public as a whole is not 100% satisfactory to any individual group ? the mark of true compromise and shared sacrifice. The General Assembly needs to lead by example and pass legislation that eliminates pensions for its new, current and retiring members and replaces them with a 401(k)-style plan similar to that of private sector employees. As between proposed solutions that: (a) provide current employees with the choice of switching to a newly designed pension system (as has recently been debated) or keeping their current pension benefits ? namely, the annual cost of living adjustment ? while giving up their right to such benefits as state-provided health insurance in retirement; or (b) move to a defined contribution system for current employees, I favor the former. With respect to shifting pension costs to suburban school districts, in these troubled economic times, local residents are struggling to pay their already high property taxes and local school districts are making cuts on an annual basis. I understand the theory that local school districts should have ?skin in the game? when it comes to making salary decisions. However, the price of entry should not be our children?s education or the ability of residents to stay in their homes. The state can allay these concerns by committing to provide local school districts with their fair share of state education funding such that any shift in pension obligations will not result in a property tax increase or cuts in education. If the state were to make this commitment, local school districts could begin to pay towards their teachers? retirements. Pension reform should not be voted on during the lame-duck session. There is a huge lack of trust for government in Illinois. Voting on sweeping reform during a lame-duck session promotes the idea of dishonest, cowardly government. Illinois can, and must, do better. Finally, in order to overcome partisan gridlock, individual legislators need to have the political courage to put the public?s interest before their own self-interest. The facts set forth above make clear that a solution is needed. Moreover, the public wants a solution. It is the job of government to provide that solution even if it may not be politically popular.

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 believe that the budgeting for results process, once fully implemented, will result in reduced state spending due to the elimination or reduction in cost of various budget line items that previously did not receive scrutiny. Moreover, as set forth above, Illinois must fundamentally change its budgeting process and accounting procedures to more accurately reflect actual reality, not ?Springfield reality.? Examples of ?Springfield reality? are: (a) Section 25 of the State Finance Act (?Section 25?), which allows current year expenditures to be pushed into a future year?s budget; (b) borrowing or sweeping money from special funds and calling the budget balanced; and (c) not requiring a final Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (?CAFR?) for the previous fiscal year before preparing and voting on the next fiscal year?s budget. Illinois cannot demonstrate fiscal responsibility (and, therefore, cannot expect to promote job creation) without truth in budgeting. Truth in budgeting requires either the elimination (or severe reduction in the number) of special funds or the inclusion of these funds in the budget. Absent such steps, the ?budget? is not transparent. Truth in budgeting also requires the elimination of budgeting gimmicks such as Section 25 as a budgeting tool. Truth in budgeting requires that estimated revenue figures be grounded in reality ? something that can be accomplished by requiring a final CAFR before a proposed budget is presented and voted on. Truth in budgeting requires that the actual long-term cost of any program/action be accounted for regardless of when the cost accrues. Once truthful budget figures are determined, the true financial imbalance between the State?s revenues and expenditures will become clear, and we can have a meaningful discussion of priorities to attain a balanced budget. This process will result in fiscal responsibility. During every budgeting process, we need to go line-by-line through the budget to identify waste, inefficiencies, and duplicative services. I would also like to work with the auditor general?s office to further identify overlapping and duplicative services. I believe that state spending can be cut by doing the following: ? cutting the state?s vehicle fleet, completely eliminating take home vehicles and utilizing car-sharing organizations like zip-car and rental agencies if using such vehicles is more cost effective than reimbursements on state business; ? cutting the state?s air fleet or limit the use of the aircraft; ? combining the offices of state comptroller and state treasurer; ? eliminating the office of the Lt. Governor. The Lt. Governor has very little administrative responsibility, exemplified by the period that Illinois was without a Lt. Governor. Additionally, as a first step in the elimination of the office, I believe we can eliminate the need for the Lt. Governor to have a separate staff from that of the Governor. ? eliminating pay for members of boards and commissions, including eliminating any additional benefits that may be provided to such members. With respect to gambling, I am not opposed to a reasonable expansion of the industry with proper safeguards. Recent proposals have not been reasonable, do not have proper safeguards, and I would not vote for them. Moreover, I believe it is dishonest to promote gambling expansion as a fix for Illinois? fiscal problems. It is not. Indeed, one cannot look at the economic benefits that gambling may provide without also looking at the negative consequences, such as increased crime. As discussed above, to get Illinois out of its fiscal mess will require reforming the state?s budgeting process and a commitment to fiscal responsibility.

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?

When it comes to job creation, Illinois must demonstrate that it has: (a) become fiscally responsible; and (b) a plan for future economic growth. As a candidate, I have continually sought input from business leaders throughout the Chicagoland area on how to create job growth in Illinois. I have learned that business leaders do not view Illinois as a good place to start a new business because of an uncertain regulatory environment, as well as the uncertainty presented by Illinois? tenuous economic situation. Illinois? economic uncertainty makes business leaders fear that the state will continually increase business taxes to generate needed revenue. Demanding fiscal responsibility and truth in budgeting, as described above, are critical steps in bringing jobs back to Illinois and strengthening its economy. Illinois must also become a leader in the provision of green energy to other parts of the country in order to bring new green jobs and industry here. Illinois has access to wind, water and sunlight. Its central location makes it ideal for the delivery of green energy to the rest of the country. Regarding economic incentives, Illinois? lack of a coherent policy leaves it open to being taken advantage of by large businesses that threaten to leave. As recommended by the Civic Federation, Illinois must develop a comprehensive economic development incentive policy that will put an end to economic brinksmanship by Illinois businesses. Illinois? current ad hoc approach does not work and is not fair.

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 a strong advocate for transparency and accountability when it comes to campaign financing. I support limiting campaign contributions from political parties and completely reforming the way money is used in political campaigns. Illinois took a step forward when it first adopted campaign contribution limits, but we still have a long way to go to improve the system. However, one thing I do not want to do is implement a reform system that would leave candidates and campaigns reliant on or vulnerable to special interests spending money on their behalf. I am also in favor of strengthening the State Board of Elections? ability to enforce campaign laws, disclosing large independent expenditures and shortening the election season by moving the primary and general elections closer together. All three of these ideas could help make elections fairer and reduce the amount of corruption tied to campaign finance. The issue of party-leadership is premature. At present, my focus is on: (a) talking to local voters about the issues that concern them; and (b) winning my campaign for State Representative. Once elected, I can turn to the issue of caucus leadership. Presently, it is unknown who, and how many, will seek to lead the Democratic caucus. Once that information is known, I will thoroughly vet the pros and cons of each candidate before making a decision.

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 am committed to marriage equality in Illinois and, thus, people of the same gender should be allowed to marry in Illinois. As with pension reform, Illinois should not vote on marriage equality legislation during a lame-duck session. Such a tactic does not promote honest government. I am 100% pro-choice. Women should have access to safe reproductive healthcare without government interference. I will vote against attempts to limit a woman?s right to make her own decisions about her healthcare. I will vote against concealed carry legislation. As a former federal prosecutor who has worked closely with law enforcement, I simply do not believe that allowing more guns on our streets makes our streets safer for our children. Illinois needs responsible, sensible gun legislation. This includes precluding people from carrying concealed guns in our parks, shopping malls and neighborhoods. Discussion of the death penalty in Illinois is a non-starter given Illinois? horrific problem with wrongful convictions. On a regular basis, the news reports on individuals who have sat in prison (and previously on death row) for crimes they did not commit. Illinois must focus on righting those wrongs and making sure that they do not happen in the future before returning to discussions of the death penalty.

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