Peter Breen: Candidate Profile
48th 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: Married for over 9 years to Margie Manczko Breen, currently in the adoption process. DuPage County resident over 28 years. Son of Deacon Jim and Mary Jo Breen and oldest of three children, all still living in the western suburbs.
Occupation: Vice President & Senior Counsel, Thomas More Society
Education: University of Notre Dame, Juris Doctor (Notre Dame Law Scholarship). Vanderbilt University, Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering (Graduated in 3 years). Naperville North High School (Top 10 out of 500+ students; Member of State Champion Math Team and State Champion Engineering Team; Achieved rank of Eagle Scout).
Civic involvement: Chairman, Lombard Finance Committee, 2013-present. Chairman, Lombard Economic & Community Development Committee, 2011-2013. Lombard Representative, Glenbard Wastewater Authority, 2012-2013. Founder, Woman's Choice pregnancy help centers, serving Lombard, Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, Downers Grove, Lisle, & neighboring towns, served as Executive Director & General Counsel, 2005-2008. Founder, Project Gabriel, church ministry serving needy pregnant women and their children across DuPage & Will Counties. Member, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Lombard.
Elected offices held: Trustee, District 4, Village of Lombard, 2011-Present. Acting Village President, Village of Lombard, 2012-2013. Republican Precinct Committeeman, 2010-Present.
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?
Two long campaign seasons of meeting one-on-one with voters has given me a unique insight into the concerns of folks in the 48th District. The main problem in Springfield is that legislators have forgotten what the people want, as opposed to what the special interests want. To that end, I've been in contact with a number of my future colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to discuss how we might work together on positive solutions to strengthen our state. I intend to support our party's leader, Rep. Jim Durkin.
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?
If the Supreme Court strikes down SB 1, we start from scratch with a new plan to save our pension system. The current math simply cannot work, with a long-term liability over $100 billion. Adjustments to account for longer lifespans and increased salaries are overdue, whether through gradual increases to retirement ages and individual contributions, better indexing of cost-of-living increases, or elimination of compounded cost-of-living increases. The state must also make its pension payment for each year in a timely manner, with no "holidays" or accounting tricks that only put our state further in debt over the long term.
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.
No, the General Assembly promised the increase to 5% would be temporary, and that promise must be honored. The increase was passed by a lame duck legislature, against the will of the people of Illinois, and should be repealed in its entirety. Raising taxes produced added revenue in the short run. However, while increasing taxes short-term, we reduced the number of tax-payers long-term, individuals losing their jobs and businesses moving out of state. Companies that move, companies that don't expand, and companies that don't come to Illinois in the first place represent tax revenue that can never be collected.
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?
I support a balanced budget, honestly adjusting state spending to meet the revenue expected each year. The General Assembly has instead engaged in convoluted spending games and fund transfers for decades. There's no question that Medicaid is laden with fraud: we are now looking at reviews that suggest a fraud rate of 25% or more in Medicaid. Medicaid needs a total overhaul. I would start with the most expensive programs and highest appropriations in the budget and audit every line within their budgets. Do all this, cut red tape and unnecessary regulations, and watch Illinois businesses grow and create jobs.
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?
Education funding should focus on the needs of individual students, not maintenance of bureaucracies. In terms of funding, our property tax burdens are already too high. I oppose measures that would raise property taxes, including the recent cost-shift proposal. Instead of raising taxes, we should start first by putting a stop to the egregious end-of-career salary spiking that has driven pension costs through the roof. In poor districts, we should fully embrace school choice, charter schools, tax rebates, and other creative solutions to ensure a quality education for all our state's children.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
Serving as an elected trustee in my municipality, I led the effort to freeze the property tax levy for the first time in a generation. But the sad reality is that tax increases have been assumed as a given by almost every taxing body, from the General Assembly down to the smallest local board. Illinois suffers under the second highest property taxes in the country, and we have to get those levies down, especially as people's home values diminish. Public bodies have an obligation to be more sensitive to those who provide the necessary revenue to fund vital services.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Pope Francis. He's got a big heart for people, and he lives simply, in solidarity with those in need.
What's the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Every person, no matter how big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, has inherent worth and dignity.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I wouldn't. You learn a lot more from the missteps than from the successes.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
European History. Our teacher taught us philosophy, human nature, and history: Those timeless lessons have served me well, across every field of endeavor.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
The opportunities in this world are boundless. Don't let others put limits on your dreams and your calling.