Allen Skillicorn: Candidate profile, 66th Illinois House District

Incumbent Republican Allen Skillicorn of East Dundee faces a challenge from Democrat Suzanne Ness of Crystal Lake, a McHenry County Board member, in the race for the 66th Illinois House District.

Q. Should Speaker Madigan resign from his leadership positions? If he does not resign, will you support him for a new term as House speaker?

A. In light of the pay for play corruption scandal exposed in the ComEd indictment, I am calling on House Speaker Madigan to resign immediately. Speaker Madigan is also Chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party and controls those campaign purse strings. I am skeptical of any candidate on Madigan's payroll or the receiving end of his 'favors'. It is an ethical conflict of interest to take campaign contributions from Madigan or his loyal lieutenants. My opponent has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from Madigan, Madigan controlled committees, and campaign staff from him.

Q. What is the biggest challenge facing your district and how do you propose tackling it in the legislature?

A. Lobbyists, patronage political workers, and significant Madigan funded special interests are already operating in McHenry and Kane Counties. The people of the 66th Legislative District need their local newspapers to report how much money has been spent by Speaker Madigan on my opponent.

Q. The graduated income tax is designed with the intent to reduce taxes for 97 percent of Illinoisans. Do you believe that will happen? Why or why not? What assurances can be given to voters?

A. This is a false question and shows the bias of this questionnaire. The intent of the Graduated Tax Amendment is to raise taxes. Instituting a graduated tax is the wrong direction for Illinois. The proposed amendment is a $3 billion tax hike on day one with zero protections for any wage earners. Of that $3 billion, how much will be gobbled up by corruption? That's why I have labeled the graduated tax amendment the Corruption Tax! Look around at the other states that have gone in this direction. Missouri for example, the highest rate of 6% starts at just $9,001 per year. A graduated tax will lead to higher taxes for everyone, not just high-income earners. Minnesota to our north uses a graduated tax scheme. If the Minnesota model were applied to Illinois, a married couple making as little as $37,110 a year would pay $150 more in state taxes a year. These are not millionaires, just working-class people who deserve better.

Q. ComEd officials have acknowledged in an agreement with the federal government that it funneled money through contractors to friends and colleagues of Illinois Speaker Michael Madigan. What do you think should happen as a result of this. Specifically, how should potential legislation impacting ComEd be handled next session?

A. My opponent has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from Madigan, Madigan controlled committees, and campaign staff from him.

Q. Describe at least two circumstances in which you have shown or would show a willingness and capacity to act independently of the direction or demands of party leadership.

A. In 2017 and 2019 the House Minority Leader was pressuring Republican legislators to join Speaker Madigan and vote for higher taxes. In both instances I stood up to my legislative leader and took other Republicans with me. Due to his ineffective leadership the suburbs have given more power and seats to the Chicago majorities.

Q. How would you rate the governor's handling of the COVID-19 crisis? Does the legislature need to have more input and influence in establishing rules and policies related to stemming the spread of the disease? What you have done differently, if anything? If nothing, please say so.

A. I am concerned the governor has spent so much time patting himself on the back that significant damage has been done to our fragile economy and our families. The General Assembly's job is to represent the people. Extending Emergency Declarations every 30 days is not the intent of the law and eliminates the voice of the people. Our tepid finances need an all-hands-on-deck approach, not just the governor ruling by decree!

Q. Regardless of whether the federal government provides assistance, what is the impact of the pandemic on the state's economic outlook and what immediate and long-term actions should be taken to address it? Would you support increasing taxes to pay for COVID-19 response or to make up for lost revenue related to COVID-19?

A. The state has been in a deep financial hole decades before COVID. No bailout is warranted, and none will be coming from D.C. Pensions, corruption, and political pandering have been the norm in Illinois and the media is just as much to blame as the politicians.

Q. Do you support any type of tax on retirement benefits?

A. No, I do not, and I have authored a Constitutional Amendment to forever prevent taxing retirements.

Q. Should Illinois prohibit lawmakers from lobbying other levels of government? Should lawmakers be prohibited from becoming lobbyists after their term in office? For how long?

A. I am very troubled by legislators moonlighting as lobbyists or consultants. This is an obvious conflict of interest. In November on the House floor I asked anyone that works as lobbyist to raise their hand. Nobody did. I later cross-checked list of Chicago registered lobbyist and found State Rep. Jaime Andrade, State Sen. Elgie Sims, and Senate President John Cullerton were on the lobbyist list. I am doing more than just talking about these violations of trust. I have filed HB3956 and HB3958 to rein in this abuse.

Q. What are the most important components that should be included in legislative ethics reform? What will you do to help them come to pass?

A. We will never pass meaningful ethics reform until Madigan-backed candidates are exposed and pressured by the media to return the money and cut all ties with the disgraced speaker of the House.

Q. What should the state do to address the still-growing problems with its key pension programs?

A. The only real solution is transitioning from a defined benefit system to a defined contribution pension system for new employees. For retirees and current employees, we must honor what they have earned, but moving forward, there is no reason we cannot cap and reform these benefits. Doing nothing is not a viable option. Therefore, I have introduced a pension package of legislation to address this crisis. I call it my Pension Reform Fixer Up. I started to roll out a series of townhalls, press conferences, and op/ed's to promote the package and will continue next year. Major Bills Submitted: HB3868-Raises the retirement age up 1 year. HB3859-Cap pensions for all current and retired employees at $132k per year (Same as maximum Social Security contribution). HB3860-Ties automatic Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). HB3919-Creates a Tier 3 defined contribution plan going forward after January 2021 for all state workers. These modest reforms could restore the health of our system in a decade if implemented immediately.

Q. Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should state government be taking to address the issue?

A. Climate change is cyclical. Is it anthropogenic global warming, sunspots, the same climate patterns that caused the ice ages thousands of years ago, or some combination of all these theories? Call me a skeptic. Man may have contributed to a small increase in temperature, but I have doubts man has forever changed the climate like alarmists claim. Consensus is not science and when I read about clear deception and misrepresentation of the data in incidents like ClimateGate from the University of East Anglia I further doubt claims by climate extremists. The fact that climate change advocates refuse to have a debate on the issue I find troubling. Climate change science is as "settled" as the debate over whether eggs are good or bad for us. Nobody likes or promotes pollution and I am happy to live in one of the cleanest countries on Earth. I am confident that innovation will bring more and more energy efficiencies and energy production to market as long as the government does not use its heavy hand to restrict innovation.

Q. Protesters have massed in the streets in Chicago and other cities across Illinois for greater social justice and changes in the funding and responsibilities for police. How significant a role does systemic racism play in limiting equal opportunity in Illinois? To the degree that it exists, what should be done about it? What, if any, changes should be made in funding and duties of police?

A. Mandatory minimum sentences and many elements of the drug war have failed. Police still need support, training, resources, and funding. The organizers of the violence and the pandering politicians share a significant part of the blame. Rank and file police officers need more training and support not less. Blighted neighborhoods need school choice and serious pro economic development reforms to prosper. Until then families will be stuck with few options.

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