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updated: 9/21/2012 4:30 PM

John Lawson: Candidate Profile

56th District Representative (Republican)

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  • John Lawson, running for 56th District Representative

    John Lawson, running for 56th District Representative




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



City: Schaumburg


Office sought: 56th District Representative

Age: 50

Family: Married, two sons.

Occupation: Police Officer

Education: B.A., Criminal and Social Justice, Lewis University M.S., Criminal and Social Justice, Lewis University

Civic involvement: Kiwanis; St. Walter Church, Roselle; Community Baseball League

Elected offices held: Township of Schaumburg, Assessor, 2004-Present

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

First, I would advocate repealing the state?s 67% income tax increase that was instituted in 2011. Instead of taking responsibility for reckless spending measures, Illinois government has to get its spending priorities in order and decide what programs and needs are meritorious and which are not. In addition, the income tax increase which was supposed to take care of the current budget deficit still left the state with an $8 billion budget deficit, between unpaid bills and Medicare expenditures. If the state is raising taxes and still does not have enough money to pay its bills, there is a spending problem and the huge structural debt needs to be addressed. While the General Assembly did make some cuts, they were clearly not enough. More has to be done to find additional spending cuts and it can be done. Indiana, our neighbor to the east, cut state spending 20%, without touching Medicaid and education.

Key Issue 2

Second, we need to help make higher education more affordable for our residents. As a father of two sons, I realize the huge costs in attending a college or university. Unfortunately, the cost of going to school has really followed the same trends as health care. In order to keep our state competitive, we need to have well-trained workers. To make an investment in our future, the expansion of education tax credits for those attending an accredited college, university, or vocational program is needed. This would ensure well-trained workers for current and future employers, while keeping an eye on future state revenues as these people enter the workforce. Any upfront costs should be addressed by cracking down on the estimated $1 billion in Medicaid fraud that Illinois currently faces.

Key Issue 3

Third, we need to institute property tax relief. While property values have plummeted over the last four years, the increased tax burden on businesses and homeowners, in a tough economy, has shown no sign of letting up. Therefore, we need to do more to give real property tax relief to homeowners by cutting spending, creating a business friendly environment, and having a more appropriate tax structure.

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?

As we all know by now, Illinois has a unsustainable pension liability to the tune of $83 billion, giving it the worst unfunded pension liability status in the entire country. For the last couple of years, the state has borrowed money to cover pension payments. This cannot continue it will destroy our already fragile budget situation. I do not believe that pension costs should be shifted to suburban school districts, as it will cause property taxes to skyrocket in order to cover the increased burden. In addition, this should not be voted on in a lame-duck session. Illinois has entered into a destructive pattern where unpalatable legislation (such as the 67% income tax increase in 2011) is pushed through a lame duck session. Having lame duck legislators vote on bills where they cannot be held accountable is underhanded and wrong. We will need to work together to find an acceptable solution where the state honors the commitment made to state employees and teacher. At the same time, a compromise will need to be reached in order to start reducing Illinois? enormous pension liabilities.

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?

There needs to be additional Medicaid reform. While the General Assembly passed substantial measures in the Spring, cutting $1.6 billion from Medicaid in order to avoid a $21 billion avalanche in 2017, more can be done. It is estimated that Medicaid fraud costs the state up to $1 billion a year. These are funds that could be used to get us back on a solid financial footing. In addition to cutting out Medicaid fraud, there needs to be substantial welfare reform. This would require ID verification of those using welfare mechanisms such as LINK cards, to make sure assistance for those in need is going to the right seniors, families, and children. This could potentially save the state hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Given our dire budget situation, the State of Illinois needs to institute PAYGO (Pay As You GO) budgeting, meaning that any department or agency that wants to increase spending, needs to identify another area of the budget that will be cut, to offset the spending increase. The State of Illinois needs to sell its fleet of executive airplanes. The fleet is valued at around $22 million dollars and cost $6 million to operate and maintain the planes in FY2011 alone. Currently, IDOT operates shuttles between Chicago and Springfield on a daily basis. This is a luxury our state can no longer afford. Along with the state?s airplane fleet, there needs to be a review of transportation costs. Old, inefficient vehicles will need to be sold or scrapped, and any new vehicle purchases will have to focus on economy and environmental impact. Clearly, there would be exceptions made for agencies like emergency management and the State Police. I would be open to future gambling expansion bills and I do support slots at racetracks.

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?

Illinois needs to make a number of changes in the way it operates, in order to attract new employers and create stable jobs. To begin this process, the State of Illinois needs to take immediate action to get its finances in order. The high rate of taxation on individuals and businesses is literally driving jobs out of our state. I support legislation like SB397 (helping Motorola and Sears to stay in Illinois) which creates a competitive tax environment in Illinois which allows business to thrive, so they can protect current positions and create new jobs. In addition, legislators in Springfield do not seem to have a problem spending other people?s money. They continue to spend our hard-earned dollars without regard to the harm they are causing the state?s long term future. This is wrong and it has to stop now. Just like our household budgets, the state needs to live within its means. It will not be easy, but we need lawmakers who will have the courage to make the tough decisions on what the people?s money is spent on. Once Illinois has a plan in action with its spending under control, we can look to reduce costs on the state?s long-term debt and come to an acceptable solution for the state?s unfunded pension liability. With these solutions in place, businesses will again be attracted to Illinois as a beacon for businesses in the Midwest. Our unemployment rate will begin to drop and as a result, state revenues will begin to climb, putting Illinois back on the road to prosperity.

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.

Given the history of political corruption, Illinois can always do more to regulate campaign fundraising. While there was substantial campaign finance reform implemented at the beginning of last year, there are loopholes that can still be closed. Specifically, there needs to be limitations placed on the amount that political parties and legislative caucuses can give to candidates in both the Primary and General Elections. While many incumbents are able to raise little to no money on their own, their respective party organizations can give unlimited amounts, tipping the scales in favor of the incumbent. I have made no commitments as to whom I would vote for leader in my party caucus. I prefer to remain beholden only to my constituents.

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 believe marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman, though I do not oppose civil unions. I do not believe that any major legislation be voted on in a lame-duck session. With Illinois being the only state left in the country without concealed carry, I would support legislation to institute it. I believe that life begins at conception.