Immediate Policy Objectives
- Term Limits
- End to Legislator Pensions – I will not sign on to the pension system if elected and I do not need state health insurance.
- Repeal 2011 Tax Increase
- School Choice
- Audit All State Spending
- Pro-Growth Business Policies
The following are excerpts from survey questions given to me by various organizations. I thought you would want to know my policy ideas on these critical issues.
Chicago Tribune Candidate Questionnaire Responses
What should Illinois do — via tax policy, spending or other policy means — to promote job creation? Do you support tax relief and other forms of state or local incentives for major employers such as CME Group or Sears? If so, how would you cover the revenue loss to the state budget?
One year after the January 2011 tax increase we know what kills jobs. A 67% tax increase resulted in thousands of jobs lost and a tie for the greatest out-migration compared to other states in 2011. We only need to listen to the business community to know that the tax increase was a job killer and the state’s decade of budget mismanagement has created uncertainty that is adding to the problem. Government creates the climate for job growth when it sets fair, simple and clear rules and then gets
out of the way of private sector job creators. We need immediate and
comprehensive pension reform, spending cuts, and a repeal of the 2011 tax
increase. I do not support tax relief for major employers. It is important to
remember Illinois’ problems are on the spending side of the equation. Rolling back spending to 2009 levels – when Illinois government was still plenty big – would more than cover the “lost revenue”.
I support tax relief on an equal basis for all employers, including small businesses that are the main engine of economic growth. If you start to identify a piece of legislation by the name of a specific business, such as the “Sears/CME bill” it is an indication
of favors being handed out. I do not blame the leadership of the companies
that received special deals for lobbying the legislators and governor for those deals. They have a bottom line that must be met. They have fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders and employees to abide. The problem is a system created by the politicians that treats similarly situated businesses (and individuals) differently. We should be a state where businesses are treated equally before the law and succeed or fail based not upon the quality of their political clout but rather based on the
quality of the product or service they provide.
Offer three ideas of your own and, if they would cost the state money, explain how you would pay for them.
Let’s just look at the states where jobs are growing. In some cases those states do not have the educated workforce, the natural resources, or the central location Illinois has. Our poor job climate is 100 percent the result of our political leadership. We need
a complete change in leadership at the state level- only then will we get
commonsense solutions for job growth. Caterpillar clearly articulated the
reason they did not expand in Illinois. They do not trust the political climate in this state. Businesses need to know what the rules will be today, tomorrow, next week and next year to be able to plan for the future, and they can’t do so when they are threatened with a constant stream of changing laws, increased regulation, taxes, and expenses. The business community has spoken. Government
creates the climate for job growth when it sets fair, simple and clear rules
and then gets out of the way of private sector job creators
The state of Illinois’ unfunded pension liability stands at around $83 billion.
Some legislators want current public sector workers to pay more toward
their retirements going forward. Others support a 401k-type plan. Unions say the state should raise taxes and catch up on what it owes. What would you
do to solve the problem? How should the state balance its commitment to fully fund the pension systems with the lack of money to do so?
The Democrats in Rhode Island recently passed major pension reform. For Illinois, that plan would be a start, but I believe our situation is much worse. In Rhode Island they brought all the parties to the table, clearly laid out the situation on the unsustainability of
the current pension system, and implemented a solution for current retirees and
those currently vested in the pension system, not only those just getting
started. The same honest discussion must happen here. The Rhode Island solution
included, suspension of colas, increases in the retirement age, and moving
everyone (except public safety) to a hybrid plan that included both a defined
benefit and a defined contribution component. Illinois needs a new deal with
its entire work force, state and local, and we need transparency at all levels
as to how much these pensions cost us. The state has mismanaged the pension
system for decades and cannot force the entire solution down to the local
level. First, negotiate concessions for retirees and current workers. Promising
something you can’t deliver, and that will let down future retirees when it’s
too late to change, isn’t pro-worker. Next, move a portion of the highest cost
pensions back to the local level because only then will citizens realize the
expensive giveaways the unions negotiated with their local elected officials to
the detriment of the taxpayer. Eventually, public sector employees must move to
a defined contribution program. The unions were and continue to be complicit in the negotiation for benefits the taxpayers cannot afford and that are out of sync with private sector pay and benefits. Ultimately pensions should be designed at the local level. This way the responsibility unit of government is clear. There is no ability to
cost-shift. The design and negotiation occurs locally where the people impacted have chosen to stake their ground and make their lives and thus have the greatest interest in the benefits and obligations they provide to teachers, police, fire, etc.
According to the Illinois Policy Institute, public sector compensation is 23% higher than comparable private sector compensation for similar jobs. Raising taxes is not an option.
After the 2011 tax increase our deficit still grew, our unfunded pension
liability grew, our current account liabilities grew, and our bond rating went
Would you support changes to police, fire, and local government
workers that might require them to work longer or pay more toward their
Yes. In the town of Lombard almost 50% of theirproperty tax levy goes only to pay pensions. By 2022, according to the city manager and mayor, 100% of the property
tax levy goes to pay ONLY pensions – that is police, fire and IMRF pensions. That scenario is unsustainable. The pensions are too rich for the dollars contributed. In Wheaton, for every three dollars of public safety wages, we have to set aside almost one dollar just for the pension contribution. As the Chicago Tribune is well aware of, public sector accumulated vacation day, sick day and personal day payouts all must be adjusted as well.
The General Assembly increased personal and corporate
income tax rates in 2011. That increase is scheduled to be in effect through 2014, then phase down over the next decade. Would you vote to
repeal the tax increase? Extend the full increase past 2014? Allow the rate to
phase down as scheduled?
I would vote to repeal the tax increase. The legislature gave back to select companies a good portion of the business tax increase already. As reported in the Tribune, the “Sears/CME bill” costs $371 million a year. These special deals only pushed the tax burden on to smaller businesses and individuals. The tax increase was specifically cited by many businesses for their reasons to leave Illinois. Businesses desire certainty to expand. Dealing with our pension problem, reducing spending, paying our debts, and lowering taxes will allow us to compete across state lines and across international borders. The tax increase was the trigger for many who exited. Other states used the increase as an opportunity to lure business away from Illinois. We need to send a strong message to the business community that we are listening.
What other changes in tax policy would you support? Can Illinois balance its budget without more taxes?
Illinois has to balance its budget without more taxes. The tax increase did
not solve the problem, in fact it most likely worsened our economy and pushed
off serious discussions on budgets cuts another year. Most individuals have seen property tax increases in addition to the income tax increase and are feeling the effects of inflation at the grocery store. I do not believe in a graduated income tax. We
already do not tax retirement income and we offer generous state EIC. So in
fact, the tax burden is put on a smaller number of wage earners. Do not add any
new taxes to them.
List and explain five specific areas in which you would cut
state spending. Want to suggest more? Be our guest.
- Real Pension/Benefit Reform. Move all current and new employees into a
defined contribution program where all funding takes place in the current year
and where the employer contribution is in line with the private sector and the
taxpayers that support it. Stop accruing additional pension benefits earned
under the old system, suspend the colas associated with those pensions until
the fund is sustainable, and then fund it as required in the 1995 pension
fix. Require employees to contribute more to the cost of their healthcare premiums, eliminate the accumulation of sick and vacation days for payouts and/or service credits. Freeze state employee pay.
- Eliminate legislative pensions. The symbolism of eliminating this benefit is
more important than the dollars saved, but I’ll take the savings too.
- Rethink Medicaid in Illinois. Between 2000 and 2010 the number of people in Illinois on Medicaid increased 80 percent as we expanded the eligibility pool. Control spending in this area by moving to a market-based solution that includes a premium support system for health insurance purchase into a HSA. Rollback eligibility standards and support it with a graduated income standard. Enforce the recent Medicaid reforms, strictly verify eligibility, and prosecute Medicaid fraud to the fullest extent possible.
- Overhaul the state grant system. In Wheaton we received a $15,000
grant from the Department of Commerce and Economic Development to repair a
residential street on which no commerce (unless you include school district headquarters) is conducted. I am certain this misuse of funds happens all the time. The Illinois Policy Institute has put forth the idea of a competitive grant program which limits the pool of money eligible for small grants (those grants under $5 million) and makes organizations compete annually for that money based on previous results, documented outcomes, or in the case of new grants, the purpose and likelihood of success. The Illinois Policy Institute believes this could save $200 million.
- Comprehensively review all spending for its appropriateness and effectiveness. Just recently there have been numerous reports about legal, but unfair, payouts from the state pension plans by union bosses and even Mayor Daley.
The latest possible misuse of funds is related to the investigation of
Representative Connie Howard’s not-for profit organization that received state
funds and where no documentation of expenses can be found. Almost weekly, Illinois taxpayers are informed of abuses of the system by those elected to protect taxpayers. I would not rule out spending money to fully audit all state spending. We would more than likely recoup any audit costs with savings found.
What role should the state play in improving the performance of
public school? Do you support an expansion of charter schools? Do you
The state’s role in education is to set the curriculum standards and fairly distribute state
education dollars. That’s it. Education in Illinois will improve when we open the system to competition. We should allow more charter schools to operate, offer vouchers for private schools beginning with those in the weakest systems, and ultimately let parents determine where the education dollars should go. I believe parents who can actively choose where to send their children will be more involved in the entire educational experience. I have many educational choices in Du Page County and other parents should also. My children attend private school for grades K-8 and public high school. My brother and sister-in-law home school their children. I am open minded to all educational options. I do believe in rewarding the best teachers, who are not necessarily the tenured teachers. Increased compensation for the best teachers would need to be measured objectively and subjectively, recognized by special designation or title, and reserved for the best and not be the norm.
Should local school districts (i.e. local property taxpayers) be
required to start paying toward their teachers’ retirements? Explain.
Yes – over time, and with pensions going forward, and as current teacher contracts expire. This process should be phased in and planned for. Local payment of all pay and benefits increases transparency. But if it is paid locally, it must be negotiated and controlled locally, not “one size fits all”. That leads to the worst of both
worlds – state lawmakers setting benefits and handing the bill to others. As we have seen, the state of Illinois has not fully funded the pension system for the last 10 years and pension “sweeteners” have been added that are unsustainable.
The previous pension obligation should not be fully pushed down to the
local districts after having been mismanaged by the state. Excessive pension amounts, mostly given to administrators, should have a portion of the pension moved back to local districts with a phased in approach.
Pension shift is not pension reform and they both need to happen together. Also, the school support funding formula needs realignment to account fairly for the population shift from Chicago to the suburbs. Chicago claims to fully fund their teachers’ pensions while not mentioning that they receive a disproportionate amount of state school funds.
Should the state pass a law banning teachers from being able to
No. If employees want to band together and decide not to work they have a right to do so. But teachers should realize that they can be replaced if they do decide to
strike. Teachers should not be forced topay union dues either.
Illinois has nearly 7,000 local governments, more than any other
state. What governments could be consolidated or abolished? What should
lawmakers do to make this happen? Citespecific examples.
I support consolidation of government, but only if it actually reduces the cost of government, instead of just pooling the existing tax burden into larger bureaucracies by adding the rates of the consolidated entities. Without a requirement that combined tax levies must be materially lower than the previous separate levies, consolidation won’t help taxpayers.
In some cases it is appropriate to consolidate non-unit school districts (although we also need to allow separate high school and elementary salary schedules, which is not
permitted under current law). Parents like local control and want an approachable, reachable administration and board; however we have too many school districts in Illinois. A game-changer in this discussion would be complete transparency on how much school administration costs local taxpayers.
Libraries should be part of the municipal government whether it is at the city or county level. The same goes for mosquito abatement districts, sanitary districts, and park
In many cases, local governments are making cooperative agreements for police and fire coverage which can lead to savings with or without consolidation. In Wheaton, four local fire units have a legal agreement on not only mutual aid but direct channeling
of calls to the nearest available station regardless of city or village. Some
government entities are much more fiscally responsible than others. Some areas
in the state have different needs for a certain government structure than others. Local communities need to be involved in the discussion on consolidation and determine what their needs are for the cost required. This issue takes leadership from the political leaders who can see the whole picture. The legislature’s role is to facilitate the discussion, share ideas, and encourage, but not force, consolidation where it makes sense.
Should Illinois do more to regulate campaign fundraising? If so,how?
Campaign fundraising rules marginalize the average citizen because they give state party leaders the most leverage to channel funds to candidates, rather than letting citizens themselves, either as individuals or collectively as a group, spend their own money as they choose to support candidates. Party leaders should be
held to the same contribution limits and campaign disclosure laws in both the
primary and general election cycles as anyone else. In fact all entities should
abide by the same rules. Donations should be easy to disclose for candidates
and easy to find for citizens. Limiting individuals’ rights to contribute simply benefits those with the power of incumbency.
What help, if any, are you receiving from your party and its
leaders, including staff help, advice, legal assistance, money and
resources? Be specific.
To date I have received in total $2150 from all Republican elected officials and/or party leaders at all levels of government. This amount is 3% of my
total contributions to date. My largest Republican donation came from Tom Cross for $500. I have no paid staff. I have attended, and paid my own way, to new
candidate training with HRO. I am invited to HRO fundraising events which I occasionally, but not always, attend.
What have you done to change the status quo of Illinois politics
As a private citizen I created a web site to give local residents information on decisions at the city level. Prior to becoming a city council member my efforts helped defeat a
special service area tax on property owners. I have encouraged other ordinary
citizens to get involved locally and I have raised awareness about our state
problems by speaking up on the issues locally. I decided independently to run
for this office. I did not court other politicians to test their support of me.
Prior to my decision to run I had never met any of my state party’s leaders. I
am running because ordinary citizens with the credentials to make informed
decisions need to bring back commonsense to the state legislature
Tell us a little about your family.
My husband and I have been
married for 24 years and we have five children.
We both graduated from West Point.
Our oldest son, Matt, is a junior at the University of Illinois where he
is studying Electrical Engineering. He
just completed Air Assault training at Ft. Benning, GA through the Army ROTC
program. Our second son, Nick, is new
cadet at West Point. Our third son,
Andrew, is a sophomore at Wheaton Warrenville South High School. Our son, Joe, and daughter, Louisa, attend
St. Michael Parish School in Wheaton.
From Illinois Review Legislative Questionnaire
Note my response concerning their use of the word scholarships vs. the word vouchers. The two words have different meanings.
From the Daily Herald:
Read my entire candidate profile with the Daily Herald