Julie Morrison: Candidate Profile
29th State Senate District (Democrat)
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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.
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Family: Husband, Joe Morrison
Children, Mike Morrison, Mark Morrison, Katherine Morrison.
Dog, Toby Morrison
Occupation: State Senator
Education: B.A. Political Science
From Knox College, Class of 1978
Civic involvement: Member of Deerfield Rotary Club, Village of Deerfield Manpower Commission, Food Pantry President of West Deerfield Township, Deerfield Community Emergency Fund (Founding member & treasurer). DCFS Advisory council member (appointed by Gov. Thompson & Edgar)
Elected offices held: West Deerfield Township Supervisor
Illinois State Senator
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?
I think there can be a few changes made to make the legislature more effective. Rules need to be simplified to make it easier for bills to be heard. I support term limits for legislators as well as term limits for legislative leaders. I am the Chief Sponsor of constitutional amendment SJRCA003 to limit leadership years. I think one of the issues that everyone in Illinois can agree on is that power has been narrowly concentrated for far too long. Citizens around the state feel powerless to change the status quo. While general elections should serve as a built in system for term limits, years of gerrymandering have left this option quite near impossible. This is why we must support non-partisan redistricting reform, such as Independent Maps. Senate President Cullerton has given me many opportunities as a new legislator to develop policy, and effectively pursue legislation I believe was important. I think his willingness to have a conversation and work with the Governor is an important quality in a leader.
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?
No. working families have been taxed too much and the state has yet to show that it can be a trustful steward of those resources. I supported the graduated income tax constitutional amendment, which would have put the question on the ballot for citizens of Illinois to determine whether or not they wanted to allow for graduated rate income tax.
What changes, if any, do you support in education and education funding in Illinois? Please be specific.
One of the major changes I support in education is to reduce the amount of time students spend preparing and taking state assessments. I heard from many parents in all our communities about the stress this test put on their children, and the amount of time these kids spent away from normal instruction. I know we can find a way to have an accurate state assessment tool without making students prepare for weeks.
I believe we can find a way to have a more equitable formula. Every child in Illinois deserves a quality education. However, there needs to be a hold harmless provision to make sure we aren't taking funds from other school districts. My first priority is to my constituents and their children. I'm open to working to find the best way.
On Illinois' budget, specifically, where do you believe cuts need to be made?
The State of Illinois is at the point where we can no longer afford to pay for entertainment experiences. The Illinois State Fair has been losing a significant amount of money for years, yet we continue to foot the bill. In fact, some of the artists and vendors for last year's fair still have not been paid. I believe we can continue the Fair's initial mission of promoting agriculture without holding an event that loses money and resources.
We need to review all of Illinois' "Special Funds". These act as little checkbooks that legislation created to collect funds for specific issues. We can also consolidate historical councils, such as the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation fund into the Illinois State museum.
The majority of our budget consists of Medicaid, debt service, education, and operations. We need to pay our bills, and make our pension contributions. We must look for inefficiencies in government and spend our money on these vital services in a smarter way.
What approach do you support toward fixing the public pension systems?
When I was first elected in 2012, I promised to be part of the solution on pension reform. Since SB 1 was deemed unconstitutional, the legislature must now act within the guidelines of the court's decision. During the 98th General Assembly I also supported SB2404, which was legislation negotiated with the union coalition. I would support revisiting elements of this consideration model, or a potential pension buyout option for those who would want to invest elsewhere.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
I've passed legislation that promotes good government, ethics, and transparency. That includes lobbyists disclosing their clients, limits on Executive appointments, and Independent Expenditure reporting by Super-PACs.
I've focused on reforming DCFS by giving it necessary tools to protect troubled children. We expanded training for mandated reporters, created multi-disciplinary approaches to child abuse investigations, protected foster youth from exploitation, and provided greater opportunities for them to work and learn.
Reducing gun violence is a priority. I passed legislation to keep the mentally ill from having access to firearms. I support local control for municipalities to have their own assault weapon bans.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Always be kind to others.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I would have had more children.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
My favorite subject was Political Science. I took a constitutional law course my junior year. We read and wrote briefs on major constitutional questions.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Keep your options open.