Karen McConnaughay: Candidate Profile

33rd District Senate (Republican)

Updated 9/21/2012 4:41 PM
  • Karen McConnaughay, running for 33rd District Senate

    Karen McConnaughay, running for 33rd District Senate



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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City: St. Charles

Website: http://www.McConnaughayforSenate.org

Office sought: 33rd District Senate

Age: 54

Family: Married to John McConnaughay, three children Kate(Mitch), Courtney (Jake) and Garrett, two grandchildren Abby and Elizabeth

Occupation: County Board Chairman

Education: College of DuPage

Civic involvement: Metropolis 2020, Executive Board, appointed 2005 -- current Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Supply Planning Group-Chairman, appointed by Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning 2005-2009 American Red Cross, Fox River Chapter, Board of Directors 2003-2005 Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Member current County Domestic Violence Task Force, Member 1992-93 Second Chance Felony Program, Member 1994-95 Co-Founder of S.T.O.P. a citizen advocacy organization 1989-92 Delnor Hospital Auxiliary 1986-87 PTO Girl Scouts Young Mothers Club

Elected offices held: Kane County Board Chairman Current (elected in 2004 & 2008)Kane County Board member District 14 1992 - 2004

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Economic growth. Sustainable job creation requires economic growth, not government intervention. Government over-regulation hampers investment and growth, over-taxation costs jobs and excess spending drains resources from the free market and discourages innovation and entrepenureship. I will evaluate every vote in the Senate for whether or not it enhances the state's economic growth. It will be the overriding factor of my legislative agenda. I will work to break down the considerable barriers to economic growth that have been constructed by state governments of both parties over the years. This will entail supporting real cuts in state spending, fundamental reform of service delivery, reducing state corporate and personal income tax rates, enacting meaningful reforms of our tort and workers compensation systems, rolling back unsustainable pension benefits for current and future state workers, and breaking the stranglehold of public employee unions on the public purse.

Key Issue 2

Reducing the size and scope of government. Government in Illinois is simply too big. We have too many units of government that inefficiently provide necessary services. The state exacerbates existing regulatory structures with more and more layers of interference rarely shown to be cost effective. I will support efforts to shrink number of governmental bodies in Illinois and to slash the sheer volume of state regulation. As chief executive of the state's fifth largest county, I was able to restructure government, reducing headcount by 25%, reducing spending and improving transparency and efficiency. This experience will be a distinct advantage in helping pass fundamental changes in the scope and structure of state government.

Key Issue 3

Bringing proven new leadership to Springfield. It is painfully evident to most Illinois citizens that state government has failed to effectively address many issues resulting in a fiscal and economic crisis. Candidates often self-anoint themselves as leaders without the experience to back it up. At a time when we need to reduce spending, shrink government and make it more efficient, curtail public employee unions, and work effectively across partisan lines, I have established a clear record of accomplishment and leadership in each area. One of the primary reasons I decided to seek this office is that I have done in Kane County what needs to be done in Springfield. It is one thing for a candidate to believe that we need to make certain changes, it is another for them to have actually achieved them.

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?

I support changing benefits for current state employees and teachers going forward and all future hires including increasing the retirement age, increasing worker contributions to both pension and benefits, transitioning to a 401k-style program and restrictions earning pension benefits for work outside of government. I do not support changes to the pension guaranteed to workers already retired. Only through significant structural changes can we sustain a pension system that provides fair benefits for state employees. We cannot destroy state finances or default on obligations out of fear of public employee unions. Furthermore, future responsibility for teacher pension obligations is not a separate policy debate if we are sincere about fixing a broken "system". It has been the piecemeal tinkering that created a pension system in crisis in the first place and delaying the more challenging, politically uncomfortable pieces for a more convenient time is the very thing that the people of Illinois are tired of.

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?

While I do not support every element of it, I believe that the Taxpayer Action Board provided a solid starting point for real spending reductions. Of course, the Governor and General Assembly lacked the fortitude to pursue these cuts. Initially, a 3% across-the-board cut in year over year budgets for discretionary spending will reduce spending by as much as $270 million and those reduced spending levels should be frozen until the state has eliminated its spending backlog. Agencies should be given additional discretion to manage funds internally to cut unnecessary or failing programs and continue successful ones. We must fight to gain federal approval of already enacted Medicaid reforms to tighten verification rules that will of reduce cost by hundreds of millions per year. We must also completely redesign Medicaid reimbursements to pay for episodes of care and outcomes rather than volume of services and duplicative care which will allow for cost containment, reduced spending and better outcomes. We should begin immediately requiring state employees to share more of the cost of their retirement and health care to reduce the state's deficit (because we generally are not funding the pension system)by several hundred million. I will also support consolidating the Comptroller and Treasurer offices. I also believe that we can use the budget process to undertake a thorough re-evaluation of the hundreds of small programs the state runs. The Illinois Policy Institute has proposed having agencies submit competitive grant proposals to justify continued funding of programs under $5 million per year in order to conduct a standardized evaluation of these programs that total up to $350 million in annual spending. If they cannot meet criteria for cost effectiveness they will not be funded. I oppose casino expansion and slots at racetracks. Gambling has brought some positive investment and benefit to small industrial cities in Illinois such as Elgin and Aurora, but it is highly irresponsible for gaming to be vastly expanded simply as a means to cover our gaping budget gap.

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?

The best investment government can make to help create jobs is to provide sufficient infrastructure, fair and streamlined regulation and a competitive tax structure. Economic growth and job creation don't abide legislative district boundaries. I do not believe in deliberately creating an onerous government burden on business and then selectively alleviating that burden when jobs are at risk. Selective and small-scale programs designed to help entrepreneurs and attract new investment in Illinois are a wise investment, but huge payoffs to powerful companies is ridiculous. It is the height of inefficiency to raise taxes on businesses and then rebate that money when businesses threaten to leave. I will not support large scale incentive packages simply on the basis of threats and not until we have taken the steps of rolling back the 2011 tax increase and made progress in reducing the regulatory burden on the private sector. As noted above, I believe that reducing taxes, streamlining regulation, reforming the tort and workers compensation systems, and reducing state spending are necessary to maximizing economic growth and job creation.

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 established donation limits in my past campaigns over and above those set by state law. I will continue to pursue reasonable limits and expanded transparency when it comes to campaign finance. I will support limits on donations to legislative leaders and their subsequent donations to candidates. With respect to a potential leadership vote I cannot comment on a hypothetical. Once I am sworn in to the Senate, I will confer with my colleagues and evaluate the candidates who are seeking leadership roles before making any decision as to who I will support. I am not committed to any candidate and will not commit until I am a member of the Senate Republican Caucus.

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 will not support legislation to legalize gay marriage. I believe human life should legally be recognized to begin at conception. I support allowing suitably trained individuals who have undergone thorough background checks to be able to obtain a concealed carry permit as is permitted in the other 49 states. I support a return to the ability of Illinois juries to impose the death penalty.