Jesse Sullivan: 2022 candidate for Illinois Governor
Office sought: Governor
Occupation: Founder, Alter Global LLC
Previous offices held: n/a
What do you consider the key to an effective working relationship between the governor's office and legislative leaders? To what extent is this relationship effective now? What would you do to improve it?
Leadership is about prioritization. We've got a historic election coming up this November. Every elected official has a responsibility to hear what the people are telling them, and work together for a better future for Illinois. That's not happening today with the current Democratic supermajority and the governor, and too many Illinois families are leaving our state because of it. Illinois has been subject to J.B. Pritzker's emergency powers for over 2 years. In that time, the governor declined to consult the General Assembly, and as such, eroded trust and legitimacy of his power. As governor, I would work with the General Assembly to balance the emergency powers of the executive branch and return power to the people of Illinois. My priorities as governor will be fixing Illinois' burdensome taxes, cleaning up corruption and crime, and improving education in our state. That's what the people of Illinois are demanding, and what I will work with the legislature to achieve next year.
What is the responsibility of the governor to work with legislators in determining health regulations during the pandemic or any other public health crisis? How would you work to meet this responsibility?
The governor has a responsibility to listen to all Illinoisans and set policy that improves our lives. Instead, J.B. Pritzker has behaved like a king and left behind suburban, central and southern Illinois families with one-size-fits-all regulations that devastated main streets. If he would have listened to Republican legislators about what was happening in parts of his own state, he could have met the needs of the pandemic better for everyone.
I would work with the legislature to ensure that they had a vote in continuing emergency declarations after the first 30 days, so that in the future, the governor is held accountable to the people.
Should the state play a role in funding a new Bears stadium at Arlington Park? What is the governor's responsibility in this regard?
No. As a state Illinois has a terrible track record of government handouts for private enterprise, and the taxpayers of Illinois have taken a back seat for long enough.
What will you do to ensure spending priorities you espouse during your campaign are reflected in the budget?
The results of Pritzker's policies in our communities are clear: higher taxes, more crime, and more outmigration. These are the factors on which I will grade myself. If, at the end of my term, taxes, crime, and outmigration are not down, I will not run for reelection. I wish J.B. Pritzker would hold himself to the same standard.
While Pritzker and the Democrats just passed the highest-spending state budget in the history of our state, I signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Spending is up 20% over the last 4 years, Illinoisans are facing the highest total tax burden in the country. It's time politicians thought about taxpayers, their children and grandchildren, instead of the next election.
One example of failed leadership on this issue is when the governor told Illinoisans he was doing something about property taxes by convening a bipartisan task force of lawmakers. That task force failed to come up with a single recommendation to reduce our property taxes, and then disbanded.
Efforts to create an independent panel to determine legislative districts were not successful in time for the 2020 Census. How important do you think it is to create such a process for the 2030 Census? If you support the issue, what should be done to create change, when should it be done and how would you contribute?
This is massively important. Mike Madigan first became speaker of the House in 1983 by rigging the legislative maps. And another Madigan will rise to power without reform. These rigged maps also encourage corruption: They are the reason so many politicians don't face real competition at the ballot box and thus are not accountable to voters.
This governor talks about voting rights, but the truth is that he has massively disenfranchised Illinoisans by limiting their voting choices through gerrymandering. He broke his promise to the people of Illinois, and they're going to hold him accountable for it.
Independent mapmaking is a central pillar of our Clean Up Illinois Anti-Corruption Agenda because it is fundamental to rebuilding Illinoisans' trust in state government. Voters should pick their politicians, not the other way around.
How well do you think the evidence-based model for education funding in place in Illinois is working? How would you define "adequate" state funding for Illinois schools and what will you do to promote that?
My wife and dad are both educators, so this is an issue close to my heart. The truth is that "adequate" isn't a number in a spreadsheet. It's an education that prepares our kids for the future and gives parents the confidence that their children can succeed. Far too many don't have that in Illinois today.
If we do not hold schools accountable for outcomes, more money won't fix the problem. That is why I believe strongly in funding students, not systems. This "backpack funding" model has been tremendously successful in Florida, where Illinois families are flocking for a lower tax burden and better schools.
Illinois has a bloated school district bureaucracy. With more than 850 school districts, we are the only state that spends more than $1 billion a year on district-level administration. This siphons money away from classrooms and teachers, and toward six-figure salaries for duplicative administrators. This is not "evidence-based" funding. It's a political jobs program.
What will you do to fix the public employee pension systems?
Illinoisans pay some of the highest taxes for some of the worst outcomes. We are saddling future generations and retirees with the second-lowest funded pension system in the nation.
An average family of four in Illinois owes more as a share of those unfunded liabilities ($76,000) than they earn in household income ($63,585). That prevents us from investing more in priorities like education, tax relief, and law enforcement.
My father is a retired public school teacher, and he deserves a secure retirement. We need an amendment to the state constitution that protects all benefits already earned, but allows for changes to future benefit growth. Real reform requires a hybrid defined-benefit and defined-contribution pension system as an alternative for new workers that looks more like a private sector style 401(k). And we don't need to look far to find what works: More than 20,000 employees in our state university system have already opted into a 401(k)-style retirement plan.