Michelle Lee: 2022 candidate for Illinois Senate 43rd District
Office sought: Illinois Senate 43rd District
Previous offices held: Joliet Junior College Trustee
Q: How well did the Illinois government respond to the COVID-19 crisis? What do you think should be done differently?
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?
Q: What should the state do to address the still-growing problems with its key pension programs?
The history of pensions and how they were originally set up to be funded is the source of the problem and will need a detailed analysis on how to fix the problem.
I think it is important to understand that there are many different types of pension and that they are funded in different ways.
For example Higher Learning Educational Institutions help to support pensions. This impacts our property taxes. Therefore, we will need to evaluate problems and solutions based on various sectors.
I do support a reform referendum that would reduce future benefit growth to sustainable levels, while maintaining current benefits for those who invested in a system where they had no choice.
Q: Describe at least two circumstances in which you have shown or would show a willingness to act independently of the direction or demands of party leadership.
As a newly elected JJC trustee I constantly strive to make the best decisions for our students, college and community.
I always consider the research presented by the president and the president's cabinet, discuss with my fellow trustees and listen diligently to our student trustee before I place a vote.
I recently voted to support a small tuition increase of $3 per credit hour. We knew we needed to make an investment to grow the college in key areas, like developing new athletic programs to attract local student athletes and building up mental health resources -- support that our students tell us consistently they need the most.
Last year, the JJC foundation gave over $800,000 in scholarships to students. Over 3,000 JJC students received over 10 million in pell grants.
Our student trustee at the time of the vote, David Lazono, ran the increase by student government who all agreed, under $50 per semester would not deter them from taking classes at JJC.
Q: What should lawmakers be doing to stem out-migration from Illinois?
I do not believe we need to stem out-migration in Illinois.
Q: Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?
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 you offer voters?