State revenue, spending divide 41st House candidates

 
 
Updated 10/15/2014 1:43 PM
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  • Democrat Ed Agustin and Republican Grant Wehrli shared opposing views on how to improve the state's budget situation with the Daily Herald during an endorsement interview for the 41st District state House seat.

    Democrat Ed Agustin and Republican Grant Wehrli shared opposing views on how to improve the state's budget situation with the Daily Herald during an endorsement interview for the 41st District state House seat.

When it comes to finances, candidates for the 41st state House seat are divided over whether Illinois faces a revenue problem or a spending problem.

Democrat Ed Agustin says Illinois lacks sufficient revenue to fund schools and other key services. Republican Grant Wehrli says the state should lighten the expense side of its ledger before looking to bring in more money.

Agustin and Wehrli are running against each other in the Nov. 4 election to represent the 41st District, which includes parts of Naperville and Warrenville.

Agustin, a 70-year-old retired architect from Naperville, says Illinois should begin taxing more professional services.

"Illinois has too narrow a tax base," Agustin said, quoting Paul Volcker, co-chairman of a committee that produced a State Budget Crisis report in 2012. "I think we can solve this funding problem by looking in other directions rather than just property taxes, and that's modifying how we normally get funding."

He suggested the state tax services commonly used by "upper-income-bracket people," such as chartered flights, limo rides and fur coat storage, because those new taxes "wouldn't affect the middle-income working families, but it would generate income for the state."

Wehrli, a 45-year-old sales and business management consultant from Naperville who also is a Naperville City Council member, said he opposes new taxes.

"I will not support another tax until we scrub the budget of the state of Illinois," Wehrli said.

He pointed to the recent example of workers in the Illinois Department of Transportation whose employment was deemed "improper" by a watchdog group because the process in which they were hired often ignored state rules that prohibit hiring based on political connections. If money can be found by uncovering unnecessary payroll expenses, Wehrli said, there wouldn't be a need to implement new taxes.

"In typical fashion, the response is 'let's just find more money' by my Democratic opponent," Wehrli said. "We need to look at our expense side of the ledger before we look at the revenue side."

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