Chris Nybo: Candidate profile
Name; Chris Nybo
Office sought: State Senator -- 24th District
Family: Wife Faye and children Connor, Olivia and Allison
Civic involvement: State Senator -- 24th District (2014-Present)
Elected offices held: State Senator -- 24th 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?
I oppose a graduated income tax. Illinois families are already over-taxed, and this is the last thing they need. Moreover, I do not trust the legislature to impose reasonable caps on what is considered "graduated." A backwards policy like this would not only result in the highest taxes being imposed on our most affluent residents, but would also result in a huge tax increase on the middle class. The rates proposed so far include an almost 20% increase on the middle class -- that's not a new way to tax -- it's just a tax increase. This would just drive away more people from Illinois.
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?
Illinois residents are leaving because we have the highest property taxes in the country. Property taxes are crushing families, especially seniors. When families no longer have children in local schools or retire from their jobs, many are choosing to relocate to low property tax states because it's just too expensive to stay here. We must freeze or reduce property taxes. Making schools less reliant on property taxes would ease the burden. We should also reevaluate how easily government entities with revenue-generating capabilities (such as park districts) should be able to levy property taxes.
What is your evaluation of Gov. Rauner's job performance? Please specify what you view as its highs and lows.
Governor Rauner is fighting hard in Springfield for the right issues -- lower taxes, property tax relief, the elimination of political corruption, and bringing economic opportunity back to Illinois. It has been a long time since we've had a governor fighting for Illinois families on these important issues. While the tactics he has employed have not been the most effective and while I may disagree with him on some issues, the biggest obstacle he has encountered is Speaker Madigan. Mike Madigan is the single biggest cause of high income taxes, high property taxes, lost economic opportunity, and a culture of corruption and harassment that continues to permeate Springfield.
What is your evaluation of President John Cullerton's job performance? If you voted for him for president in the last legislative session, please explain your vote.
Whether he admits it or not, President Cullerton is an enabler of Speaker Madigan. Instead of standing up to him and challenging the destructive path on which Speaker Madigan is driving us, President Cullerton has essentially asked if he can ride shotgun. Just as much as we should blame Speaker Madigan, we should blame President Cullerton for high income taxes, high property taxes, corruption, and an atmosphere hostile to business.
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?
It is time for Illinois to impose reasonable term limits. For years I have supposed a measure to adopt meaningful, but reasonable term limits in Illinois -- 12 years, or 6 terms for State Representatives and 12 years, or 3 terms for State Senators. This is a sufficient amount of time for people to advocate for the constituents within their districts before stepping aside and allowing for new energy, new ideas, and new people to emerge as public servants.
Equally important is redistricting reform. I support the creation of an independent commission to deal with redistricting. Letting elected officials of the majority party draw their own district lines is borderline corrupt. We must take the redistricting process out of the politicians' hands and place it with an independent body without political ties -- regardless of party.
How concerned should we be about Illinois' population loss? What needs to be done to reverse the trend?
Along with high property taxes, Illinois residents are leaving because there is little economic opportunity in Illinois outside of the suburbs and Chicago. Businesses keep leaving or shrinking; jobs have migrated to more business-friendly states; and Illinois residents have been left behind.
According to numerous studies, Illinois ranks nearly last among all states in job creation and retention over the last decade. Through its action and inaction, the General Assembly has created an environment hostile to business -- exorbitant taxes and fees, unstable and unpredictable state finances, too many rules and regulations for businesses to navigate, and crumbling infrastructure and transit systems. We must repeal the staggering number of fees imposed on businesses and professionals. In addition, we should roll back any new laws and regulations that make it increasingly more costly to do business here, while increasing access to capital and giving businesses greater incentives to keep and create jobs in this state.
Please provide one example that demonstrates your independence from your party.
In 2011, I was the only House Republican to support a workers' compensation reform bill that has saved businesses over $600 million on rates. More recently, I took the lead in negotiating with Senator Don Harmon and gun safety advocates to write a significantly revised version of the gun trafficking/dealer licensing bill (Senate Bill 337). Although the bill passed in May with more bipartisan support than the original measure, I was one of few Republicans to support the bill.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
We need more pension reform. As a legislator, I have developed a reputation as one of the few members willing to stick their necks out and push for meaningful pension reform. A pension reform bill was among the first bills I sponsored when I entered the House in 2011; I was one of the first Republicans to step forward and support the pension reform proposal that eventually passed in late 2013; and I was one of the few Senators who supported the Senate Bill 16, the pension reform bill introduced as part of last year's effort to end the budget impasse.
The first thing the legislature should do is to pass Senate Bill 16. This bill would give every employee participating in very generous Tier 1 pension plan a choice between the following: (1) a reduced COLA (cost of living adjustment) or (2) the current COLA in exchange for future salary increases being excluded from pension calculations, essentially freezing an employee's pension based on his/her current salary. Pension reform along this model would be constitutional.
In addition, here a few questions meant to provide more personal insight into you as a person:
What's the hardest decision you ever had to make?
Politically, the hardest decision I ever had to make was being the only House Republican in 2011 to support a workers' compensation reform bill. Although these reforms have now saved businesses over $600 million on rates, I paid a steep political price for exercising independence on this measure.
Who is your hero?
Our daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes four years (incidentally, right in the middle of our last General Election). As she has always done with our children, my wife Faye dropped everything to learn about this disease and figure out what our "new reality" would become. Since then, she has not only been our daughter's caretaker, but also her biggest advocate in dealing with health professionals, insurers, educators, and many others who don't fully understand what Type 1 diabetes is. At the same time, she has mothered two other children, developed a successful career as an attorney, supported a husband with a busy (and public) professional life, and has now been increasingly called upon to care for aging parents. Faye is my hero.
Each amendment in the Bill of Rights is important, but which one of those 10 is most precious to you?
As a public official, I have great respect for the First Amendment. While candidates always seek the approval of people as they run for office, I have developed a great appreciation for how important it is for the public to be able to publicly express their disagreement or disapproval with those that represent them. Even though people may not agree with my votes or positions, I always take the time to respond to everyone who contacts me, especially to express disagreement.
What lesson of youth has been most important to you as an adult?
Don't lie. Honesty is a virtue that will always serve you well. Lying harms everyone, but mostly yourself.
Think back to a time you failed at something? What did you learn from it?
I have failed frequently -- in and outside of politics. Through these experiences, I have developed a much greater sense of humility than I had when I was younger. Not only does humility help put everything into perspective, but it can also be a source of great strength as we face new risks and opportunities.