Jack Vrett: 2022 candidate for 53rd state House
Office sought: 53rd state House District
City: Arlington Heights
Previous offices held: none
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: I support term limits for legislative members and leaders. Term limits would ensure fresh ideas have a chance in Springfield. However, my opponent, Rep. Mark Walker wrote on 3/3/22, that he opposes legislative member term limits because he believes they "lead to lobbyists being the most knowledgeable and most tenured people active in the General Assembly." His position is misguided and underscores why we must adopt serious ethics reform that ensures legislators are not just doing the bidding of lobbyists. The Legislative Inspector General needs the power to independently investigate complaints against lawmakers (including issuing subpoenas and compelling testimony), and we should require disclosing conflicts of interest before legislators vote on measures in which they have a private financial interest. Finally, we need transparency in the budgeting process. Budgets should be posted for public review so taxpayers have a chance to comment and contact their representatives with concerns.
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: Illinois cannot rely on federal aid for budgeting purposes. We had an opportunity to make structural reforms that could have sustained our economy throughout this period of downturn, but the legislature instead opted to pass the largest state spending plan in history. Irresponsible spending will only lead to tax increases for residents already struggling under a sputtering economy. In fact, because the Democrats opted for this record spending plan instead of properly funding the Unemployment Trust Fund, our small businesses will be hit with an automatic increase in costs, and people on unemployment will have fewer benefits unless we take immediate action. We must prioritize the core functions of government that protect our residents, grow the economy, and provide quality public education. And we must not ignore the largest source of debt: our unfunded pension liability. Pensions are a promise, but they will become a broken promise unless the State makes meaningful reforms.
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: A quality public education system is the greatest engine for upward mobility in our society. My parents were public school educators, and I have a deep respect for teachers. Unfortunately, recent years have been hard on parents, students, and teachers alike. Education resources have stretched beyond the breaking point, and many students have fallen behind in basic subjects like reading and math. Education must be a priority. But because schools depend on property taxes, our system perpetuates the education wealth gap. The Evidence-Based Funding model was a good reform, but we can do more to prioritize student growth. We must prioritize funding to raise education standards and improve outcomes, so public schools are adequately preparing students for adulthood with (1) bilingual education, (2) gifted, talented and honors programs, and (3) opportunities for vocational and technology learning.
Q: Do you believe elections in Illinois are free and fair? What changes, if any, are needed regarding election security and voter access?
A: I believe elections in Illinois are free and fair. I also believe we can expand participation and voter access by making voting easier and by enhancing public confidence in our electoral systems. I believe we must support commonsense election reforms that will enhance the public's confidence in our democratic process, such as standardizing the process to remove voters from the rolls who have passed away or moved away and requiring voter identification or signature verification for vote-by-mail. We can also improve the quality of our elections by fully embracing a non-partisan, independent redistricting commission that eliminates racial, ethnic, or partisan Gerrymandering. Our representative process will be best served when voters have a real choice when they vote, but the practice of politicians creating "safe" voting districts to protect incumbents is inappropriate and harmful to our democratic values.
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: Dobbs did not change Illinois' abortion or gay marriage laws, and women in Illinois have access to the full range of reproductive health options at all stages of pregnancy.
I believe it was extreme for Democrats like Rep. Mark Walker to repeal the Parental Notification of Abortion
Act, meaning that girls as young as 12 can undergo an abortion without their parents knowing. The law was not about consent, only notice. I support parents' rights to know about their child's healthcare. Illinois had safeguards in its PNA law to prevent child abuse, but parents have a right to be informed about their children, and politicians were wrong to take that right away.
I'm focused on the economy, crime, and lowering taxes and the cost of living.