David Harris: Candidate Profile

53rd District Representative (Republican)

Updated 9/21/2012 4:30 PM
  • David Harris, running for 53rd District Representative

    David Harris, running for 53rd 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: Arlington Heights

Website: http://www.electdavidharris.com

Office sought: 53rd District Representative

Age: Candidate did not respond.

Family: married two adult sons -older son active duty Army, graduate of West Point, just returned from year long deployment to Afghanistan -younger son graduate of NU in June'12

Occupation: Legislator

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Georgetown University, Washington DC US Army Command & General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth, KS

Civic involvement: Chair, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital Governing Council

Elected offices held: State Representative, 2011 to present State Representative, 1983 - 1992 The Adjutant General of IL, 1999-2003 (The Commanding General of IL National Guard)

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Pension reform. Our great State of IL cannot move forward in any positive way until it there is fair and comprehensive pension reform. Pension payments are consuming any increased revenue the State is taking in year over year, thus denying proper funding to needed services like education, health care, transportation, and all the others.

Key Issue 2

Budget and payment of old bills. This is tied in with pension reform. Our $8 billion backlog of old bills is weighing down our ability to move forward, and it is harming all those vendors who do business with the State and then have to wait months and months to get paid.

Key Issue 3

Economic environment / jobs. We need to create a favorable climate in Illinois so that individuals and businesses want to both locate and stay here. Property taxes are becoming increasingly burdensome; the workers compensation system needs reform; and the inability of our political leaders to work together to solve our problems sends bad signals throughout the country.

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?

There needs to be fair and comprehensive pension reform for all 5 of the State pension systems. The pension payments are "crowding out" adequate funding to other needed services, like education. I believe the reform should include provisions that require a higher contribution by active employees (which most folks I have talked to are willing to support); provisions that modify the automatic 3% annual compounded increase, which is doubling the State's pension liability every 24 years; provisions that require the State to make the annual required contributions to the pension systems. We should also offer a blended system that would include a 401(k) style option for those who wanted to take it. Regarding the normal cost of pensionable salaries for teachers under TRS and university personnel under SURS, I believe it is reasonable to have local school districts and universities assume part of the normal cost of pensionable salaries. It is the local School Board and university administration that sets the salaries of teachers and professors, and it is the School District and university that employs the individuals. Thus, it makes sense to have school districts and universities assume some responsibility for the people they employ and the salaries they set for those people. Partisan gridlock can be broken by leadership and compromise. There has been a massive failure of leadership on the pension issue, especially from the Executive Branch. In the House, the Speaker and the Minority put forth a bill in 2011 (SB 512), but the interest groups were not willing to compromise to reach a solution. There has to be give-and-take on all sides if we have any hope of solving the problem.

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 receipts to the General Revenue Fund have increased substantially over the past several years because of income tax increases and overall increased economic activity, the amount of tax dollars appropriated for day-to-day State operations is decreasing. From FY'12 to FY'13, the decrease was $900 million. The reason for the decrease is that other payments are taking the lion's share of GRF. GRF receipts for FY'13 are projected to be $33.7 billion. However, off the top of that amount comes pension payments ($5.2 billion), debt service on pension bonds & notes ($1.5 billion); debt service on other borrowing ($600 million); Medicaid ($6.6 billion); group health insurance ($1.1 billion); transfers out ($2 billion); and payment of old bills ($800 million). That leaves about $16.4 billion to spend on all the other areas of State gov't, a figure that is $900 million lower than last fiscal year. The pension payments are crowding out our ability to properly fund other necessary services of State government. We have got to get these under control if we have any hope of changing our "deadbeat" status. How I will vote on future gambling bills is determined by what the proposed legislation says. I voted against the initial riverboat/casino bill when it was passed. I do not generally favor the expansion of gambling. I do not believe, as many have said, that it is a source of substantial revenue growth; there is a cannibalizing effect with other casinos when new casinos are established. At the same time I have said I could support a casino in Chicago that is run by a private entity and overseen by the Illinois Gaming Commission and not the City of Chicago. I could support slots at Arlington Park.

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 way to help the economy in my district and in the State as a whole is to get the government out of the way and let the creativity and ingenuity of the private sector create jobs and increased economic activity. The government can help, but the creator of jobs is the private sector. We need to ensure we have a tax climate and a regulatory climate that is favorable to the creation of more jobs. One thing government can do is to cooperate with local businesses to re-train employees or train new ones in skills that those businesses may need. This can be done in cooperation with local community colleges and high school programs. We need education that prepares workers for the jobs of the future. One of the most important actions we could take at the State level to help the business climate in Illinois is to really reform our State's Workers' Compensation system. The WC costs in IL are 2 to 3 times higher than they are in IN. We need to be much more competitive with other States when it comes to Workers Compensation. Speaking of competition, it is s a competitive environment among the States. Most States have some sort of incentive program to entice businesses to locate in the State. Illinois has the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credits, and they are an effective tool to be used to keep and attract companies in Illinois. There is a quid pro quo with the EDGE credits. A firm has to guarantee a certain number of jobs and a certain capital investment to quality for the credits. If the firm does not meet the guarantee, and there have been many which have not (a recent example is Motorola Mobility), then they do not get the credits. The program is closely monitored. So I believe the EDGE program, which needs to be employed in an open and transparent manner, is beneficial for the State.

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.

Yes, I favor limiting the amount that leaders and party organizations can contribute to a candidate. Yes, I plan to vote for my current leader because I believe he has been an effective leader of the Republican minority in the House. I support campaign contribution limits, and I believe the current limits will serve us well. To me, I think a key to campaign contributions is proper reporting. If the contributions are reported completely and openly, then the public can know where a candidate is getting his/her support and funding.

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 not in favor of gay marriage; Illinois has a law stating that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and I support that law. I do not know exactly when viable life begins. I believe it is important to protect the unborn. I vote pro-life, and I recognize that cases of reported rape, incest and life of the mother are times when an abortion may be an appropriate option. I favor a reasonable concealed carry law. All 49 other States have passed some form of concealed carry legislation. There is no reason to think such a law in Illinois would be any less workable than it is in NY or CA or FL or any other major State. Yes, there are crimes which are truly heinous and the death penalty should be re-instated for such crimes.