House 20th District candidates McAuliffe, Khan debate income tax increase, social issues
From fiscal to social issues, a longtime Republican state legislator and his Democratic opponent have staked out their differences in a race for the state House's 20th District seat.
State Rep. Mike McAuliffe, an 18-year incumbent from Chicago, is being challenged by political newcomer Mo Khan, a full-time law student from Park Ridge who has worked on the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Alexi Giannoulias.
During a debate Wednesday night at Des Plaines city hall, both candidates said they were opposed to an extension of the 2011 income tax increase. But McAuliffe pointed out his challenger's response to a Daily Herald candidate questionnaire during the Democratic primary race against Jerry Acciari earlier this year.
"I would vote to extend the temporary personal and corporate income tax because not doing so would mean drastic cuts to critical services provided to Illinois residents, especially working class families," Khan wrote at the time.
In his general election questionnaire response to the Daily Herald, Khan wrote that he doesn't support making the current income tax rates permanent, but favors lowering them each year.
"I'm confused if you're for any type of income tax increase or not," McAuliffe said.
"I am not for an income tax increase," Khan responded. "I'm not for extending the temporary income tax."
Khan added that he would put his accounting background to use by visiting every state agency to determine what expenditures can be cut.
"Did you fill out a questionnaire saying that you were for a temporary income tax to the Daily Herald? Yes or no?" McAuliffe said.
"I'm for rolling back the income tax," Khan replied. "I don't know if I can say it anymore clearly than that."
Khan, meanwhile, took aim at McAuliffe's votes against same-sex marriage and civil unions, and position on abortion, which McAuliffe says he is against except when the life of the mother is threatened.
"When we talk about making Illinois a business-friendly environment, I can't figure out how those positions are friendly to women business owners or business owners in the LGBT community or high-wage, highly skilled employees in either one of those communities," Khan said.
The candidates also are on opposite sides of the controversial pension reform bill approved last year. McAuliffe defended his vote in favor of it.
"The state of Illinois is in dire straits because of its pension obligations," he said. "Doing nothing I believe was not an alternative."
The bill is now before the Illinois Supreme Court.
Khan said he thinks the measure will be found unconstitutional because it would diminish benefits to state retirees. In the end, he says it comes down to raising revenue, and believes the way to do it is by increasing employment, and thus the amount of residents paying taxes.
The 20th House District includes portions of Des Plaines, Rosemont, Park Ridge, Niles and Chicago's Northwest Side.