House Dist. 50 candidates talk income tax hike, state stalemate

The two people running to represent the state House 50th District have polar opposite views when it comes to whether the state should increase income taxes and sales taxes, as it looks for a way to pay its pension obligations, for education and for other matters.

Republican Rep. Keith Wheeler of Oswego says "no," not even instituting a graduated income tax.

Democratic challenger Valerie Burd of Yorkville, however, says she would vote to increase the income tax but only if the proposal would contain some "loopholes" for middle-class taxpayers.

She also supports amending the state constitution to allow a graduated income tax that would charge higher rates to wealthier payers.

"Both Democrats and Republicans realize the state has to have more revenue," she wrote in a Daily Herald election questionnaire.

She also believes the idea of charging sales tax on services should be considered.

Both bemoan the current state of Illinois' finances and the inability to adopt a budget in 2015 and only a part-year budget in 2016.

They blame party leadership, not the rank-and-file members of the House and Senate.

"The environment in Springfield is upside down. The legislators get along. Then when leadership gets involved, it seems to take a hard turn," Wheeler said.

"I'm appalled. ... There are two egos (House Speaker Michael Madigan and Gov. Bruce Rauner) facing off against each other," Burd said.

Wheeler prefers to concentrate on making Illinois more attractive to businesses, such as by doing things to lower the costs of workers' compensation insurance.

Both say property taxes are too high.

Burd favors increasing spending on infrastructure to generate more jobs in construction.

Wheeler also criticizes the cost of attending Illinois' public universities, saying it is driving the best and brightest students out of state. Once they attend college in another state, they are more likely to stay out of Illinois, he says. Illinois then loses in two ways - on what it invested in that person's public elementary and secondary schooling, and because a high-income earner isn't returning and paying taxes.

Burd agrees collegians are going of out state, but believes that is more because of the state's financial uncertainties, including whether colleges will cut courses or if the state will again withhold paying out promised student grants. "People are losing their faith in our funding system," she says.

Burd was mayor of Yorkville from 2007 to 2011 and an alderman for nine years before that.

This is Wheeler's first elected government position. He was appointed to the Bristol Township board in 2013.

The 50th District extends from Yorkville north to Campton Hills, including parts of Plano, Oswego, Sugar Grove, North Aurora, Kaneville, Elburn, St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia.

Burd and Wheeler ran against each other in 2014.

Valerie Burdof Yorkville is running for the state House 50th District.
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