Daiber: I'll be governor for all of Illinois, not just Chicago
A downstate perspective could be the cure for Illinois' political and budget dysfunction, Bob Daiber, Madison County regional superintendent of schools, told the Daily Herald editorial board Thursday.
The 61-year-old Democrat who advocates a graduated income tax faces five rivals with Chicago and suburban ties in the March 20 gubernatorial primary.
While incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has clashed with organized labor and backed legislation to establish right-to-work zones that restrict unions, Daiber said one of his strengths is that he's belonged to and led public sector unions.
Workers "want to be able to make a living wage and don't want their rights to collectively bargain stripped away," Daiber said. "We have to be responsible to them but we cannot be overgenerous."
Asked to specify how he would seek concessions from labor to save the state money, Daiber said "we should maybe look at stopping expanding earned sick leave days." Issues would include the number of sick leave days, how many can be accumulated, the pay out for sick leave days and the number of sick leave days going into retirement, he explained.
Daiber wants a progressive income tax to replace the Illinois flat tax, which would require a constitutional amendment.
He proposed a scale ranging from 1 percent to 6 percent where the poorest Illinoisans would pay 1 percent on income up to $25,000 and millionaires would be taxed at 6 percent.
"Lower-income people would get a tax break that would give them more earning power," he noted.
As an educator, Daiber is underwhelmed by state tests, saying "I'm not a big proponent of data-driven curriculum ... it has disenfranchised some very good teachers from being creative."
Poor communities will score worse on standardized tests than more affluent areas and "you don't need to spend a million dollars on a PARCC test" to learn that, he commented.
However, Daiber opposes the recent movement of boycotting some standardized tests by parents and students.
The former teacher who lives in Marine in southwestern Illinois said one of Illinois' problems is its geographical divide.
"There are many areas of downstate that feel forgotten and the farther south you go that forgotten-ness is amplified. Some downstaters "look to the north and see 'everything's here ... this is where all the attention is.' I am running for governor of Illinois not governor of Chicago.
Daiber is running against Democrats state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston, Chicago activist Tio Hardiman, developer Chris Kennedy of Kenilworth, physician Robert Marshall of Burr Ridge and billionaire and Hyatt hotel heir J.B. Pritzker of Chicago.
Asked about Rauner ads tying Pritzker to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is imprisoned on corruption charges, Daiber noted that Blagojevich had introduced programs that gave grants to keep at-risk, suspended students in school in his district and targeted certain impoverished rural towns to bring economic opportunities.
"He wasn't all bad," Daiber said. "He made the wrong turn ... I won't say what he did was right."