The General Assembly voted to raise personal and corporate income tax rates in 2011. That hike will roll back in January 2015 unless lawmakers vote to keep it in place. I oppose attempts to allow this temporary tax hike to remain in place. It was represented to the voters to be a temporary increase and should remain so. It was a mistake to raise it in the first place.
I strongly oppose a graduated income tax for Illinois As noted in an editorial in the Daily Herald, the progressive tax is not aimed at making the tax system more “fair,”, but simply to raise more revenues rather than make required cuts. It is a blatant money grab.
Illinois has a severe spending problem. We need to enforce the requirement of a balanced budget. I would propose that until the budget is balanced and there are available funds for programs, no new program should be instituted or created, or if such a program is created, a commensurate reduction of another program must be made.
Zero Based Budgeting:
I would also propose that we engage in a zero base budgeting process. No assumptions should be made. Each department and agency should be required to challenge assumptions and look for ways to consolidate programs and staff. There is, without question, ways to eliminate excess spending in our states departments. We could commission an independent, forensic audit so we can correctly assess current spending and find ways to eliminate waste. We should also have a 5 year outlook to assess future spending. As the Treasurer of the Geneva Library Board I advocated for and passed a significant reduction in the library budget in the last year I served on that board. This forced the library and its departments to find areas to economize and find new efficiencies. This effort was successful without a reduction in staffing or the quality of service. Net result: lower taxes for our residents. We must do the same for our State.
We must accept that we simply don’t have the money to do all the things we might want to do. We have to live within our means and lower taxes. We need to review the myriad of state programs and determine which ones give us the most “bang for our buck” and which do not. Ones that rate highly in effectiveness and low in cost should be given priority over the ones that rate low in effectiveness and high in cost. Then, based on the resources we have we need to reduce or cut funding to low priority programs.
Illinois lags behind other states in unemployment figures. We need to create a pro-business environment that encourages investment and new business to come to Illinois. We also need to encourage a well-built educational system to insure that there is a strong and capable workforce. The focus should not be on raising the minimum wage, but on creating a business environment and having a skilled workforce that will make well above the minimum wage by using their skills and efforts.
If the State can lower its tax burden and show that it can live within its own budget constraints, business will be attracted to Illinois again. We need to get our own house in order before we can expect business to invest in our state.
Term Limits and Fair Maps:
I believe term limits will help address the severe problems caused by legislators who stay in office so long they become too powerful and cannot be controlled or removed. I strongly support term limits on all elected offices in state government.
The legislative districts in Illinois are the poster child for gerrymandering. A map designed in an objective way based on population rather than political demographics will re-entitle the voters to make the decision of who to elect instead of the political parties. Political parties function best when there is real competition for the seats in office. When most districts are solidly in one party’s control or the other there is no competition and abuse will occur. I support an objective, scientifically based map system for Illinois legislative districts.
Education is one of the most important tasks (and one of the most important challenges) our state needs to address. A strong education will solve so many of our state’s problems, including social issues and providing a strong workforce to attract businesses with. Every dollar we invest in education will be returned to us many times over in returns. Education has always traditionally been handled at the local level and I support local control.
I also support the important concept of Charter schools. Charter Schools provide options for families, foster innovation, competition and can carve out a niche for a specific vision or type of curriculum. Similarly vouchers would allow families to escape intolerable educational systems. Finally tax credits for sending children to private schools would reward those families who voluntarily took some of the burden off of local schools. All of these creative solutions should be supported.
Illinois’ pension liability is over $100 billion. The entire pension system is poorly funded at under 40% and each household owes over $30,000 just to cover the pension debt. Illinois’ massive pension debt must be paid down in order to protect the system and ensure the massive debt is not forced onto our taxpayers and next generation. I believe that common sense reforms can be enacted without affecting already earned benefits such as:
- No double dipping
- Interests paid on expiring bonds being paid back into the system
- Allow an opt in, 401K option for employees wishing to manage their own retirement
- For new hires, require a shift to a defined contribution system rather than a defined benefit system.
2nd Amendment and Concealed Carry:
I am an avid supporter of the Second Amendment and support concealed carry. Guns aren’t the problem; gun violence is the problem, and effort needs to be put into enforcement of existing laws against criminals and supporting treatment for the mentally ill.
I am staunchly Pro-Life.
As a local prosecutor for our communities, I have experience in prosecuting illegal aliens for over 20 years. While immigration policy decisions are made by our Federal leaders, it falls to the state and local government law enforcement agencies (and local prosecutors like me) to actually apprehend and prosecute these people. I favor strict enforcement of our existing laws. I have worked with our local states’ attorneys’ office to prosecute illegal aliens when and where we find them.