Maggie Trevor: Candidate profile, Illinois House 54th District
Democrat Maggie Trevor, a Rolling Meadows market research consultant, is challenging incumbent Republican Thomas "Tom" Morrison in the race for Illinois House from the 54th District, which takes in parts of Arlington Heights, Barrington, Deer Park, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, and South Barrington. To explore their campaign websites, check morrison4staterep.com and maggietrevor4il54.net.
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: Elected officials must be held to a high standard and be held accountable when they violate the public's trust or the law. We must have confidence that our elected officials are not beholden to the industries they are sent to Springfield to oversee. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty and everyone deserves due process under the law. Having said that, if the allegations against the Speaker are true or found to be true, then I believe he should resign.
I cannot commit to voting for or against Speaker Madigan for a new term until I know who else is running for speaker, and until we learn more from these ongoing investigations. I intend to vote for the person who best represents the values and issues supported by the voters of the 54th District. And I will vote for someone who can work to protect equal rights for all, protect the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively for fair wages and safe working conditions, and protect women's reproductive rights.
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: I do not owe my candidacy to the Democratic Party of Illinois. The Democratic Party viewed the 54th District as such a long shot that nobody ran for this seat in 2016. Frustrated with the party's reluctance to challenge a Republican representative so clearly out of touch with the constituents of this district, in 2017, I knocked on thousands of doors to get my name on the March 2018 primary ballot.
This past fall, I once again was not backed by the Democratic Party of Illinois. I again knocked on doors, along with local volunteers, won a contested primary with no support from the state party organization, and have secured a position on the ballot independently of party organizations. In doing so, I created my own connection with the people of the 54th District and I heard firsthand what is important to them.
I identify as a Democrat because I support the major platforms of the Democratic Party. I owe my place on the ballot to the people of the 54th District, and if elected, answer to the people of this district.
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 would you have done differently, if anything? If nothing, please say so.
A: Gov. Pritzker has done a great job managing the state's response to the pandemic. He has exhibited strong leadership, grounded in science and compassion, in an unprecedented crisis -- leadership that has been absent at the federal level. He's shown a willingness to listen to those people and organizations affected by his decisions and to adapt to new information as it becomes available to us. I believe he made a concerted effort to work with the legislature, with leaders in the industries affected by shutdowns, and with local units of government. I attribute the state's ability to safely move to Phase 4 sooner than most states to his leadership.
Gov. Pritzker drew criticism -- much of it unjustified -- for not working closely enough with the legislature, and perhaps he could have addressed those criticisms more pointedly. Legislators were engaged in planning efforts during that period, and I appreciate the need for a shortened, efficient session to keep those who work in the capital, and their families and the communities they return to, as safe as possible.
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: Unfortunately, the pandemic hit just as Illinois was beginning to recover from the crippling damage of the 736-day budget standoff, pay the backlog of bills, deal with the unfunded pension liability and move toward properly funding education and pensions. The pandemic has blown a hole in state revenues, which jeopardizes this process. Undeniably, we need federal assistance -- as does every other state -- to avoid drastic budget measures that will further endanger our economy.
We cannot cut our way out of this budget situation, nor can we expect to raise enough revenue to cover the impact by increasing taxes and fees. The services that would be in peril are the very programs that help our residents weather the crisis, and the result would be to even further damage the economy of our state, decreasing tax revenues and jeopardizing the health and well-being of those who live and work here.
In order to weather the initial crisis, Illinois borrowed $1.2 billion from the Federal Reserve. This may be an option for the short to medium term, but is not sustainable as we approach the limits of debt that state revenues can support. Long term, solutions must come from the federal government.
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: The current system gives no assurances to Illinoisans that their tax burden won't be increased. Legislators answer to the residents of their district for their votes on state income tax rates, and that will not change with the Fair Tax amendment. I support the Fair Tax amendment because it helps protect lower- and middle-income Illinoisans from shouldering a disproportionate tax burden. All other forms of taxation in this state -- property and sales taxes -- are inherently regressive, and in combination with a flat income tax leave lower- and middle-income residents paying more than their fair share. The Fair Tax will give Illinois an important tool to address our budget issues without increasing the pressure on these residents. Without the Fair Tax amendment, budget shortfalls may make it more likely that these taxpayers will be asked to shoulder an even larger burden.
Q: Do you support any type of tax on retirement benefits?
A: In general I am opposed to taxing retirement income.
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 agree with and will support the reforms passed in SB 1639, which toughen reporting requirements for lobbyists. I support prohibitions on state lawmakers lobbying other levels of government in return for compensation, and lawmakers should be prohibited from becoming lobbyists for at least one year after they leave office.
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: I applaud the creation of the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform. In order for lobbying reform to be successful, there must be bipartisan representation on this commission. The recent instances of ethics violations and corruption have been covered by existing laws, but the fundamental problem is one of enforcement. To be effective, the office of the Legislative Inspector General should be structured as a bipartisan appointment and granted subpoena powers. I will fight for these provisions.
Ethics reform in Illinois, however, must go beyond the legislature. We need to find ways to limit the effect of money in politics if we want to eliminate conflicts of interest, reduce the advantages of incumbency, curb the influence of the ultrawealthy, and make all elected officials more fully accountable to the voters.
Q: What should the state do to address the still-growing problems with its key pension programs?
A: It is important to remember that this crisis was the result of bad decisions over several administrations -- both Republican and Democratic. This, coupled with a historic downturn in the markets, created a complex problem that affects all Illinoisans. It will take concerted action over a number of years to move to solvency for pension funds and pay down the unfunded liability. There has been progress. State employees hired after Jan. 1, 2011, are on a different plan (Tier II) with less-generous benefits, and legislation on pension consolidation has been passed and signed by the governor this session that should reduce some costs for taxpayers.
Moving forward, we must make full pension payments and address the unfunded liability over time. Future pension reform legislation needs to be carefully crafted to survive any legal challenges, be fair to taxpayers and public sector employees, require all stakeholders at the table, and consider options based on current interest rates and realistic rates of return on investments. The passage of the Fair Tax amendment would give Illinois the best options to pay down the unfunded pension liability.
Q: Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should state government be taking to address the issue?
A: The scientific evidence is overwhelming: Climate change is caused by human activity. Government at all levels must be engaged in and committed to reducing greenhouse gases. I support the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which sets a goal of 46 percent clean energy by 2030 and 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The act will also help create more good jobs in Illinois and make the state a destination for skilled workers.
I would also support a coal severance tax if it is on par with taxes in other coal-industry states with markets similar to those in Illinois. I support using the tax revenues in ways that benefit communities historically dependent on coal.
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: The effects and legacy of systemic racism are evident in our housing patterns, in health statistics, in employment and in our system of justice. As a state representative, I would act in support of those speaking out for police reform and work to create a safer and more equitable community in the 54th District and in Illinois. I will work to pass legislation that encourages a deeper dialogue between the police and the communities they are sworn to serve. I will call for greater accountability, including limits on qualified immunity, and for independent prosecutors to investigate officer-involved deaths and bring charges when warranted. I will support legislative efforts to license or certify law enforcement officers and maintain databases of those who have been dismissed for cause. I will work to fund community-based social assistance and health care services, including mental health services, that will provide more appropriate responses to the needs of people in our communities.