Kirk Dillard: Candidate Profile
24th District Senate (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.
Office sought: 24th District Senate
Family: Married, two children.
Occupation: Attorney - Partner, Locke Lord, LLP, one of Chicago's oldest and largest law firms.
Education: Sen. Dillard is an honors graduate of Western Illinois University in Macomb with a degree in Political Science and Economics and a Juris Doctor degree from DePaul University College of Law.
Civic involvement: Dillard serves on the Board of Directors for the Robert Crown Center for Health Education in Hinsdale, as well as the College of DuPage Foundation Board. He is a member of the Dean?s Advisory Council for the DePaul University College of Law, and the United Way of DuPage/West Cook. Dillard is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, Crains "Who's Who in Chicago Business", founding member of the Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58, Economic Development Corporation of Downers Grove, and the former Chairman of the DuPage County Republican Party.
Elected offices held: Illinois Senator - District 24 Chief of Staff - Illinois Governor Jim Edgar
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
Make Illinois a Destination Economy for Job Creators. My goal is to encourage job growth by developing an efficient, transparent and ethical state government with less regulation and lower taxes. I was the author of the 2011 Senate Republican "Jobs Recovery Plan to Transform Illinois into a "Destination Economy" available on my web site www.kdillard.com which can be obtained by clicking the green and yellow icon that shows "30 Tips"... Importantly, I am a leading voice for DuPage suburban voters on matters pertaining to our economy such as keeping the Chicago Democrats from raiding the Tollway operating monies, preserving stable METRA reliable service for the hundreds of thousands of suburban commuters (Four of the five busiest METRA stops in Chicagoland are in SD-24). I was the leading legislator in bringing $50 million for the Belmont Road underpass in Downers Grove, a leader in preserving categorical school funding which helps suburban families and holds down local property taxes.
Key Issue 2
Fiscal Stability / Pension Reform / Ethics Reform. We must provide financial stability in State Government (beginning with Medicaid and pension reform) to help make Illinois a "Destination Economy" for job creators. The state public pension system is severely underfunded and paying down the debt threatens to crowd out our spending on core state services. We must reduce pension costs for local municipalities. If we don't do this, there will be no money for schools, the developmentally disabled, law enforcement, etc. I have been the legislature's leader in pursuing ethics reform as proposed by former Prosecutor Patrick Collins, and eliminating GA scholarships. I was recently the sponsor in the legislature for creating the Illinois Internet Portal to disclose, on-line, every salary, contract, tax break and tax deadbeat and also the performance audit of Medicaid.
Key Issue 3
Suburban Interests. When Sen. John Millner endorsed me, he said, "Kirk Dillard is DuPage County's voice in Springfield." Whether it is protecting raids of suburbanites money from the Tollway and METRA, or fighting for suburban school funding which holds property taxes down, I fight for DuPage County residents. I was the sponsor of the laws which created the Giant Steps Autism School (in Lisle), the Respite House for Medically Fragile Children (aka Almost Home Kids or Coach Care, in Naperville) and the sponsor of the law which allows Access DuPage to allow local physicians to provide quality healthcare to the individuals that fall from the safety net. Last year, I passed legislation to allow the Salt Creek/DuPage River watershed commission to keep our local MPDS taxes in Wheaton, rather than with the EPA bureaucrats in Springfield. I led the efforts that brought infrastructure monies back to our area like, Route 59 (in Naperville), Belmont Road underpass (in Downers Grove), Butterfield Road/22nd Street improvements (in Lombard), improvements in the entryway and Visitor's Center at Morton Arboretum (in Lisle), or $30 million for temporary building replacement at College of DuPage (in Glen Ellyn). I have always made the hard choices and difficult votes in funding for these types of projects. It is my principle to not vote for the projects unless the revenue is first in place to fund them. I also will continue to fight for improved electric reliability from ComEd, as I already am with local municipalities today, and I will also fight to hold commuter times down.
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?
Clearly, after nearly four years in office, there is a lack of leadership on this issue by Governor Pat Quinn. For political reasons, Speaker Mike Madigan does not want to move this issue forward until after the election. As the August 17th Special Session highlighted, there will be no easy, one-day solutions the biggest problem facing the State budget. Recognizing that comprehensive reform is needed, I have voted to change the Legislator and the State Employee pension plans since no desirable, serious comprehensive plan now exists. But for less than 200 votes in the February 2010 Primary, comprehensive pension reform would already be in place. Pension reform is a serious and complex problem that will require many talented minds working together to devise a commonsense solution that works for both the employees and the taxpayers. All stake-holders must be involved in creating innovative solutions, and there is no top-down solution. I look forward to continued discussions with rank-and-file teachers, parents, taxpayers, legislators and all other involved parties (e.g. The Civic Federation). We must address this problem immediately or else our pension obligations will take such a large portion of the Illinois budget that will be unable to fund all the other critical services of government. Our credit rating has already taken a significant downgrading, and we need to protect against having our State bonds rated as "junk". There are several proposals we must look toward. Two such proposals are currently being discussed. One proposal is that State pensioners should be required to pay part of their healthcare, post-retirement, as we examine modernization of the system and the long-term budget implications (which I supported). Another proposal considers placing a cap on the number and value of public pensions one person may receive and we need to reduce cost of living adjustments in certain circumstances. The biggest hurdle right now to pension reform is Speaker Madigan's ideas to shift pension funding to suburban property taxpayers. Suburban (and downstate) legislators have significant questions about Madigan's proposals to move suburban teacher pension obligations onto beleaguered local property taxpayers. If the Speaker and the Governor are serious about moving suburban teacher pensions onto local governments, part of the package would have to be significant existing mandate relief and prohibitions on new overbearing mandates from Springfield. Additionally, there must be flexibility for our local school boards to control their own costs and suburban access to monies exclusively available only to Chicago. Obviously, any changes must be phased-in over a period of time that would allow local school districts to manage the required changes. We can make significant changes and improvements to the pension funding mechanisms before the November election, the debate over shifting funding to suburban and downstate taxpayers can wait. If I were Governor, I would lock all stake-holders, such as the four General Assembly leaders, Union and Business leaders, taxpayer groups like the Civic Federation, as well as fiscal experts in the Governor's Mansion to come up with a comprehensive plan to solve this issue once and for all. We then need to call another Special Session and keep the General Assembly in Springfield until such time as comprehensive reform is negotiated and passed through the Legislature. Voters should know their legislator's stances on these substantive issues BEFORE the election.
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?
The Senate Republicans provided an alternate plan of budget reforms to replace deficits and to phase-out the 67% income tax increase. Illinois Government needs to live within its means! No state has ever borrowed or taxed its way to prosperity. The State cannot be all things to all people. Also, see my answer to my Campaign Priorities. Illinois must reform its public pension system, enact my $2 billion Medicaid reform plan, cut $4-6 billion from the state budget as in the Senate Republican plan. We can save $1.5 billion if we fought fraud and waste in Medicaid, which is estimated to be 10% of Medicaid costs (as estimated by the New York Times). We can save $1.2 billion if we just offered the same Medicaid services as surrounding states. We need to continue to push for management of care like other states which would, for example, avoid costly visits at the emergency room. My Medicaid Recapture Audit law is now being conducted and could potentially find $800 million to $1 billion in fraud/savings and which optimizes Federal matches, eliminates the duplication of payments and uncovers outright fraud. When I was Governor Edgar's Chief of Staff we paid our bills in 17 days, and after inheriting $1 billion in deficits, we left the state with a $1.5 billion surplus in the state treasury, all without an income tax increase. I do not support the expansion of gaming in Illinois. However, as a matter of fairness, if the rest of Illinois has the ability to have casinos or riverboats, Mayor Emanuel, if he thinks it proper, should have that ability, too. I do agree with Governor Quinn, Gaming Chairman Jaffe, and the BGA and/or the Chicago Crime Commission that the regulatory scheme must be thorough and tough! I also support measures which will continue to assist the agricultural family farm side of horse racing.
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?
See my top campaign priority, and please read my 11 page plan for a "Jobs Recovery Plan" on my website. As we learned from the Sears and CME debates, we need a comprehensive review/overhaul of our business tax-fee structure. We must reduce the cost of doing business in Illinois and not have a system where the well-heeled get tax breaks and the small family owned businesses (which creates 85% of Illinois jobs) are ignored. The fact that CME was 6%-7% of the State's corporate tax revenues, and that Caterpillar pays no corporate income tax proves that the system is broken! I voted YES on the Sears/CME legislation. I was a co-sponsor of the tax credits for Navistar, and was the Chief Sponsor of the incentives which enticed the Boeing Corporation to move its headquarters to Chicago. But, it is very important that we provide tax relief for small/medium sized businesses which provide the bulk of Illinois jobs.
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 favor limiting legislature leaders' contributions. At this moment in time, I intend to vote for the current Senate Republican leader. She is the first woman legislative leader in the state's history, and a suburbanite, and she has effectively led us on issues like reducing the state budget and abolishing GA scholarships. I support contribution limits if they are fair to all political parties and there is a "billionaire's exception". However, sunshine is the best disinfectant, and I was the sponsor of the law which requires every expenditure and contribution over $150 be put on line.
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 support actual gay marriage. Generally, I don't like any non-emergency votes during a lame-duck session. I believe that life begins at conception. If properly drafted, with stringent mental health checks, criminal background checks, and training, I would support the right to carry as every other state in the Union allows. The death penalty should be reinstated on a limited basis (the "worst of the worst"), to include mass murders (like John Gacy), heinous child murderers, cop killers and those who murder a witness at trial. I was the chief co-sponsor with Barack Obama, of the landmark legislation re-writing Illinois's broken death penalty statue following all of the shameful, wrongful conditions of innocent people.