Sam Yingling: Candidate profile
Name: Sam Yingling
Office sought: State Representative, 62nd District
Family: Married with three children
Occupation: Full time legislator
Education: BA from DePaul University
Civic involvement: Former President of the Round Lake Chamber of Commerce, Former Board Member of the Round Lake Cultural and Civic Center Foundation, Former Board Member of Mano a Mano
Elected offices held: Avon Township Supervisor, 2009-2013; State Representative, 62nd District, 2014-present
Questions & Answers
Would you vote to approve a graduated income tax? If so, what qualifiers would you impose and where would you set the brackets? What would the top tax rate be?
As I talk to my constituents, the concern that I hear more often is that their property taxes are increasing at an unsustainable rate. Changes in the state's tax structure must be done in a responsible way and consider all of the tax burdens families face. Any graduated income tax plan that I might support would have to include a way to provide property tax relief to homeowners across the state.
How big a problem is the level of property taxation in Illinois? If you view it as a problem, what should be done about it?
Lake County has one of the highest property taxes in the country and people are being forced out of their homes. We have an unaccountable, regressive, and abusive property tax system that forces my constituents to choose between keeping their homes and paying for other basic needs like utilities and health care. This is unacceptable and it must be changed. I have supported efforts to cut property taxes for homeowners, seniors and veterans by increasing the exemptions they are entitled to. I also supported school funding reform which helped bring millions of dollars to schools in my district and established a way for school districts to lower property taxes as they get more school funding. Legislators must continue their commitment to provide more school funding ensure that these changes we made help reduce property taxes.
I am Chairman of the Government Consolidation and Modernization Committee and passed one of the most comprehensive government consolidation bills in the history of the state.
Finally, I am working to provide more control to homeowners over their property taxes in Lake County by passing legislation to make the Lake County Assessor an elected position. I am disappointed that Gov. Rauner vetoed this legislation to bring transparency and accountability to the office, as well as give Lake County taxpayers a stronger voice in how property taxes are determined.
What is your evaluation of Gov. Rauner's job performance? Please specify what you view as its highs and lows.
This race for state representative is not about Gov. Rauner's job performance. I'm focused on helping my district and being their voice in Springfield. That is why I worked so hard to make sure that Gov. Rauner knew that the people in my district wanted the ability to elect the Lake County Assessor. It is also why I pushed Gov. Rauner to provide emergency services to residents and businesses impacted by historic flooding last summer.
That said, the governor does have a disturbing track record of ignoring the needs of the people of Lake County in tangible ways. He ignored our historic flooding last summer for days and vetoed additional education funding for our schools. Last month he denied the people of Lake County the right to vote to make our property tax system accountable to us when he killed a bill that would have let Lake County property taxpayers vote to elect the Lake County Assessor in November. The measure had bipartisan supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly and was supported by good government advocates, Illinois REALTORS, republicans and democrats on the Lake County Board, the Lake County Township Assessors, and thousands of Lake County residents who made phone calls, signed petitions, and testified at local hearings on the bill. If signed, the bill would have put a question on the ballot in November to let the people decide whether the position of Lake County Chief Assessment Officer, the Lake County Assessor, should be popularly elected by the people. That position is currently appointed by the Chairman of the County Board. Governor Rauner denied voters the power to hold the Lake County Assessor accountable for decisions that affect how much they pay, and showed poor judgment in doing that.
What is your evaluation of Speaker Michael Madigan's (President John Cullerton's) job performance? If you voted for him for speaker (president) in the last legislative session, please explain your vote.
I'm focused on my race for state representative. This race is about plans to strengthen our communities. I am working to address the needs of my district by bringing more school funding to local school districts, fighting to provide property taxes to homeowners and protecting vital services, including breast cancer screenings, senior health care, autism service and domestic violence shelters.
Should there be term limits for legislative leaders? If so, what would you do to make that happen? What other systemic changes should be made to strengthen the voice of individual legislators, limit the control of legislative leaders, encourage bipartisanship?
I support term limits and have supported term limit legislation as a member of the General Assembly. I look forward to taking part in serious discussions about how long elected officials should serve.
How concerned should we be about Illinois' population loss? What needs to be done to reverse the trend?
I think that we should be concerned about people feeling forced to leave the state and need to take actions to prevent out-migration. The first thing that we have to do is fix the property tax system in Illinois is that is forcing many people out of their homes. We also need to continue to invest in our schools, community colleges and universities. We know that where young people go to college often determines where they decide to start their career and family, which is why it is imperative that we encourage more students for complete their education here.
Please provide one example that demonstrates your independence from your party.
Even though many members of my party believed that a tax increase was needed, I voted against the permanent income tax increase that was enacted last year. I hear from my constituents everyday about the huge financial burden property taxes places on their family and I couldn't ask people to pay more in taxes.
What other issues are important to you as a candidate for this office?
One of the issues that I continue to work on is government consolidation. There are far too many layers of government in Illinois that perform duplicative services. We need to find a way to streamline these services and cut wasteful spending. These efforts should also help reduce property taxes on homeowners through more efficient government services.