Fred Crespo: 2022 candidate for Illinois House 44th District
Office sought: Illinois House 44th District
City: Hoffman Estates
Occupation: Full-time legislator
Previous offices held: Hoffman Estates Trustee
Q: What needs to be done structurally to make the legislature more effective? What is your position on term limits in general and for legislative leaders specifically?
A: Willingness to work hard and collaboratively are the key attributes of an effective legislative body. I take pride on my ability to work with both Democrats and Republicans, locally and in the Capitol. This has enabled me to be an effective legislator which in turn benefits our district and the people and institutions that I represent. Additionally, I'm a firm believer in having strong and independent Inspector Generals and Auditor Generals, to police the General Assembly. I have a history of working with both and have made sure that they're fully funded to adequately perform their duties. As far as term limits is concerned, I supported term limits for legislative leaders and helped add these limits to the House rules. However, I'm concerned about the impact of term limits in general. As I talk to out of state legislators who are term limited, they express concerns that the lack of institutional knowledge enables lobbyists and staff to exercise undue influence on policy issues.
Q: Federal assistance has enabled the state to make important advances toward improving its budget. What will you do to ensure these advances continue when the federal aid is gone?
A: The additional assistance has enabled the state to set aside additional funds for the rainy-day fund, contribute more toward pensions, and eliminate the previous administration's $17 billion debt. Additionally, by managing one-time funds in this way, we will save millions in interest payments going forward, making more resources available for critical and important existing programs like, health care, domestic violence, law enforcement, mental health, education and other critical services. I was very vocal during the during the appropriations process in asking the administration to limit new funding to existing programs. It is imperative that we don't overspend and create budgetary pressures in the future. Any new program will be at risk when the new funding ends. At that time, the state will have to perform a cost-benefit analysis and determine if the programs add value or not.
Q: To what extent are you happy or unhappy with the evidence-based model for education funding now in place in Illinois? How would you define "adequate" state funding for Illinois schools and what will you do to promote that?
A: Alongside former Illinois State Board of Education Superintendent Tony Smith, and former Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis I was a member of a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators charged with making a recommendation to fix the former inequitable school funding structure. The Commission devised funding adequacy targets for school districts based on the needs of the students the district serves. The goal of reaching adequacy is twofold. First, it is to eliminate the current level of disparity of funding in our schools, Secondly, to reduce the reliance on property taxes to fund education, resulting in lower property taxes. The evidence-based funding model determines the distribution of state dollars to school districts based on how close or far they are from an adequacy target. The target is driven by factors such as a school district's special education needs and English as a second language student population.
Q: Do you believe elections in Illinois are free and fair? What changes, if any, are needed regarding election security and voter access?
A: Yes. As Chair of the Appropriations Committee for General Services, which reviews the Illinois State Board of Elections' (ISBE) budget, and Co-Chair of the Illinois Legislative Audit Commission which reviews ISBE's financial and performance audits, I feel confident that elections in Illinois are free and fair. On the other hand, I also believe that we need to continue to search for ways to increase participation in the electoral process. We have made inroads in increasing voter participation by expanding vote by mail and increasing the number of dates our citizens can vote. We need to fight hard against those that want to restrict access to voting.
Q: How well has Illinois responded to Supreme Court indications that it considers abortion, gay marriage and other social issues to be state, not federal, responsibilities? What if anything needs to be done in these areas and what would you do to make your vision come to pass?
A: I am disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision to reverse Roe vs. Wade. I am also concerned about any action they make take that may adversely impact same-sex marriage. It is also disappointing to see states across our nation take away a women's right to choose, even in cases of rape and incest. There seems to be a movement to reverse all the positive actions we have taken as a nation to make progress on social issues. Illinois has been on the right side on these issues and will continue to do so if we elect leaders that respect the rights of women and the LGBTQ community.