Peter Breen: Candidate Profile
48th State House District (Republican)
Back to 48th State House District
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.
Twitter: Candidate did not respond.
Facebook: Candidate did not respond.
Family: I've been married to my wife Margie over 11 years. After years waiting for an adoption placement, we were blessed in August by the arrival of our newborn son Matthew, who is our pride and joy. I'm the son of Deacon Jim & Mary Jo Breen, who raised us in Naperville and retired to a (very active!) senior community in Aurora. I'm the older brother of John, who lives in Elmhurst with his wife and child, and Julie, who lives in Naperville with her husband and two children. Margie's and my parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews are all in Chicagoland.
Occupation: State Representative & Constitutional Attorney
Education: J.D., University of Notre Dame, 2000
B.E., Electrical Engineering, Vanderbilt University, 1997
Diploma, Naperville North High School
Civic involvement: Sacred Heart Church, Member, 2005-present
Knights of Columbus, 1998-present, Member, Fr. Boecker Council, Lombard
In 2005, I founded a local nonprofit that has since served thousands of pregnant women and their children.
Elected offices held: State Representative, 2015-present
Village Trustee & Acting Village President, Lombard, 2011-2014
Precinct Committeeman, 2009-present
What needs to be done structurally to make the legislature more effective? Will you vote for your current legislative leader? What is your position on term limits in general and specifically for legislative leaders? Do you support the ongoing drive for a constitutional amendment on redistricting? What will you do to promote implementation of any changes you recommend?
The absolute power held by Speaker Mike Madigan is corrosive to representative government. Madigan has rigged the system: He draws the maps to ensure super-majorities for himself and his allies. He writes the House Rules to give himself maximum power over the running and staffing of the Illinois House, including near-absolute power over what bills and constitutional amendments can even be heard for a vote. And he controls the flow of campaign cash to his members, which makes them absolutely dependent on him if they want to stay in office.
On structural changes, I take an "all of the above" approach. There have been many such changes which I've supported. From House Rules changes to term limits and redistricting reform, there are numerous structural changes that would significantly improve the quality of government in Illinois.
I proudly support my legislative leader, Jim Durkin. Leader Durkin has shown extraordinary leadership through a difficult legislative session. He is smart, rational, and measured.
As for term limits, I support term limits generally, and I support term limits for legislative leaders.
On redistricting, I have voted for and stood up on the House floor to champion redistricting reform. I also recently signed on as a chief co-sponsor to a nonpartisan redistricting reform measure that would set up a competition for the public to submit maps, which would be judged by an independent scoring method. By using computers to do the scoring for the maps, we can take the politics out of map-drawing.
Would you vote for an increase in state income taxes or sales taxes? Would you vote for new taxes, such as on services? What is your position on a graduated income tax?
I generally oppose tax increases, especially under the current budget process. The difficulty is revenue has become such a moving target, after the years of out of balanced budgets, bloated programs, and undisciplined spending.
The problem with the cries for tax increases is that the people of Illinois do not trust the General Assembly to spend any additional funds wisely. When Mike Madigan, John Cullerton, and Pat Quinn last raised our income tax to 5%, they refused serious reforms and reductions and squandered the excess funds.
As for the specifics, the governor and many others have proposed a range of taxes that could be raised. But before even considering any of these tax increases, we must first reform the delivery of existing services, to ensure we are delivering services efficiently, and responsibly reduce spending where we can. Only after that reform and reduction is done should we look at additional taxes.
More important than all of this, though, is growing our Illinois economy and increasing the number of good-paying jobs for Illinoisans-this will naturally and beneficially increase our state tax base, along with ensuring that folks don't have to leave Illinois to find prosperity.
What changes, if any, do you support in education and education funding in Illinois? Please be specific.
The public schools in my district are among the best in the state. They are doing extremely well, with a range of successful programs to serve a wide variety of student needs. My school districts need reform from unfunded mandates imposed by Springfield, which are negatively impacting their ability to achieve better student outcomes and ensure sound financial management.
The education funding formula, like many other such funding formulas in Illinois, is flawed. Instead of tinkering around the edges of the education formula, this process should start from scratch. The funding needs of urban, suburban, and rural schools are significantly different. Reforms to increase district autonomy and operations could bring about a great deal more efficiency and take into account the differing needs of different areas of the state. What this flawed system doesn't need is to be even more expensive than it is now. Illinoisans outside of Chicago have already spent way too much money propping up the failing Chicago Public Schools.
On Illinois' budget, specifically, where do you believe cuts need to be made?
There are plenty of models for successful budgeting. The first priority is to stop budgeting for crises. Coming from municipal government, we were extremely disciplined in this process-nothing came down to the last minute. Procedurally, we can budget by department and appropriation category, recognizing that we can't exceed revenue in any of those areas. If we do, then revenue must be taken from other areas. In a perfect world, we would use zero-based budgeting, determining first what services the state needs to provide and then figuring out on a line-by-line basis the best, most efficient way to deliver those services.
Speaker Mike Madigan has too much control over this process. When a budget is $7B (over 20%) out of balance, it's an indication that anticipated revenue isn't even a consideration in our current process. Applying basic budgeting principles to reach balance is the solution, just as we expect our hundreds of municipalities and counties to do. There may be many difficult decisions to make, but the process itself is not complex.
What approach do you support toward fixing the public pension systems?
Here again, I take an "all of the above" approach. There are plenty of sound constitutional ideas on how to fix our pension system. At root, this is a math problem. There are compromises that can be had on contribution levels, payouts, lump-sum buyout opportunities, and 401(k)-style reforms, among others.
While the Illinois Supreme Court can decree that pensions benefits may not be diminished, it can't guarantee the solvency of the pension funds. We need agreement between the legislature, state workers, and the governor to ensure that there will be sufficient monies to pay those obligations over the long term.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
We have a crisis of confidence in Illinois. Folks believe the government is rigged against them-with good reason. Our sister states are improving, but our economy is stagnant. The only difference between Illinois and the rest of the states is our broken politics. Every special interest lobby gets taken care of inside, while the people are stuck outside, looking in. In order to turn Illinois around, we have to shine a bright light on every instance of corruption and self-dealing in state government. Only then can we muster the public pressure to solve the problems that vex our state.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Lately it's Michael Hyatt, a former CEO who now helps folks cut out the nonessential, so they can focus on what matters most.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
My dad was in sales, and he taught me to smile, be friendly and civil, even when the other person doesn't deserve it.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I wouldn't--every choice and resulting experience, no matter how good or bad, has made me who I am today.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
I had many wonderful teachers, but Holly Lee's European History class taught me human nature and politics, through the many colorful personalities of that continent.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Everyone was put here for a purpose. Find and live yours, and help others find and live theirs. That will make you happy beyond measure.