David McSweeney: Candidate Profile
52nd District Representative (Republican)
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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.
Family: My wife Margaret and I have two daughters.
Occupation: Investment Specialist
Education: I am a graduate of Barrington High School. I received a BA in economics from Duke University in 1987 and I earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the Duke Fuqua School of Business in 1988.
Civic involvement: I am a member of the Lutheran Church of the Atonement. I also was the Republican nominee for the 8th Congressional District in 2006.
Elected offices held: I was a Palatine Township Trustee.
How will you work to make the General Assembly function more productively and effectively? Wlll you vote to retain your party's current legislative leader? In what specific ways do you support changing how government in Springfield works?
The most important way I will make the General Assembly more productive is to continue to work in a bipartisan manner to tackle the issues facing Illinois. For instance, I sponsored a new law (HB 983) that makes it harder for local governments to issue bonds for bad projects that could result in higher property taxes. Moving forward, I support efforts to create a fairer way to draw the legislative map and I support term limits. I have voluntarily cut my legislative pay and my district office allotment by 10 percent and I've opted out of the legislative pension system.
If the Supreme Court, strikes down the SB 1 pension reform, what is your Plan B and why do you think it would be both legal and effective?
The actuarial numbers used to provide information about the cost savings of Senate Bill 1 were not independently verified. The total savings are $22.6 billion less than anticipated, with only about 6.4 percent of the savings occurring over the next ten years. Plan B would be to sit down and work with all of the stakeholders and develop a proposal that meets the constitutional requirements and provides the real cost savings the state needs. We need to move current employees to a defined contribution plans such as 401(k)s and change the compounded COLAs to simple COLAs.
As it stands now, the 2011 income tax increase will expire as planned on Jan. 1. Do you think that expiration should be reconsidered? Would you support making the increase permanent or extending it for some period of time? Please be specific about what level of tax increase, if any, you would support.
I strongly favor allowing the tax increase to expire. In order to grow the Illinois economy, we need to reduce taxes and cut spending. The Illinois labor force has declined by 196,159 or 2.9% since January 2008. The labor force size in January 2008 was 6,725,940 and the size in June was 6,529,781. We need to change course in Illinois if we have any hope of getting our economy back on track. Illinois' regulatory environment combined with high taxes and out of control spending are driving jobs and opportunities to other states that have made job creation a high priority.
Do you support cuts in state spending? If so, what specifically do you suggest cutting and how will those cuts be sufficient to restore the state's financial health and economic climate?
Obviously, we need to cut unnecessary spending. We do too little in Illinois to make sure the people receiving Medicaid are truly needy recipients. I support continuing the independent audit of the Medicaid program by a private firm as part of an effort to make sure the people getting the benefits actually deserve and need the benefits. Other cost savings ideas would be to eliminate the Lieutenant Governor's office and to combine the Comptroller and Treasurer's office. We also need an outside audit to look at overall state spending and identify waste and duplicative spending.
What changes, if any, do you believe the state should make in the area of education? Would you support the the so-called pension cost-shift to local schools?
I am opposed to the pension cost shift. The state does not need to pass its costs onto local schools. I am a strong supporter of charter schools. I think we should continue to support the successful charter schools and look at duplicating that success in places where it makes sense. I think we also need more teacher accountability. Let's weed out bad teachers and let's do a better job of rewarding good teachers. We can't just tell teachers we want them to be great teachers and do nothing to reward their efforts. Accountability cuts both ways.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
The most important issue in Illinois is jobs. Since June 2000, the number of people employed in Illinois has declined by 95,588 or 1.6% and the percentage of civilian working-age people employed has declined from 66% to 60.3%. High taxes and over-regulation are driving jobs away from Illinois. This trend cannot continue. The time has come to lower taxes, streamline business regulations and make Illinois truly open for business. The vast majority of new jobs created come from small businesses. We need small businesses to thrive in Illinois if we are going turn things around.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Mitch Daniels. He did a tremendous job as governor of Indiana and now as president of Purdue University he is having even more success.
What's the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
My parents taught me the value and importance of hard work and to not take anything in life for granted.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I wish I could go back and meet my wife sooner and begin my life with her much earlier.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
History. Now that I serve in the Legislature, history is even more important because there is so much to learn from the past.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Always be honest and respectful of others and treat the people around you the way you would want to be treated.