On the issues

Education:

The Illinois General Assembly approved a landmark education funding bill (SB 1947), which helps better fund low income school districts throughout Illinois.

The legislation is far from perfect, but it does represent a significant step in the right direction. The new law also allows for donors to get a tax credit for donating to scholarship granting organizations to help pay private school tuition for low income students currently attending failing schools.

It is time we did something to incentivize donors to make it possible for low income families to enjoy the same kind of opportunities that more wealthy families enjoy. Private schools are something that are out of reach for many families. I am pleased we are finally doing something to help them.

In addition, the measure does give residents the opportunity to lower their property taxes through referendum, which is a win for taxpayers.

The education funding bill is not a perfect solution, but it is a compromise that we can build upon moving forward. Education is something we all value and we all want our schools to succeed. Improvements are not going to happen overnight. It is a process, and Senate Bill 1947 is a step forward in that process.  Because education is one of the top 3 issues for District 37 voters I will be keeping a close eye on further changes to State education policy stemming from this new funding formula.

Business Reforms:

In a 2017 report from Chief Executive Magazine Illinois was ranked the third worst state in the nation for business. In the report, one CEO noted, “Illinois is becoming a worse state to do business in all the time. Other businesses are leaving Illinois, which affects our customer base.”

Illinois needs to do a better job of not only keeping the jobs the state currently has but also attracting new jobs and opportunities.

The state’s anti-business climate makes it difficult to attract prospective employers.

Here locally, I work with area businesses to do what we can at the local level to improve the business climate, but we need to make Illinois a better place for business.

Specifically, we need the following business reforms:

  • Workers’ Compensation Reform – Illinois currently does not require causation in workers’ compensation cases. This means employers find themselves paying for claims that in many instances did not occur on the job. We need common sense reforms to lower these costs to make Illinois more competitive.
  • Lawsuit Reform – Illinois is ranked 48th out of 50 states for legal fairness, according to a recent report from Harris Poll. More than 85 percent of the business leaders surveyed by Harris Poll for this report say a state’s lawsuit climate is a “significant factor” in determining where to expand and grow. We need to reform our courts and make our state more attractive to prospective employers.
  • Spending Reform – The state of Illinois is swimming in debt. The backlog of unpaid bills is an unprecedented $9.5 billion. The uncertainty in state government makes it difficult for prospective employers to make the decision to invest in Illinois. We need to get state spending under control and create the kind of stability we need to assure potential employers that our financial situation is headed in the right direction. The uncertainty and ballooning debt coupled with the pension crisis makes it difficult for Illinois to attract new businesses.

Illinois needs to follow the lead of other states and take steps toward becoming more business friendly. In 2016, Illinois lost more residents than any other state. It is time for the Legislature to make our state more attractive to prospective employers. It is time we enacted some much-needed business reforms.

TAXES

Property Taxes:

The high cost of property taxes in Illinois is an escalating problem that needs to be solved sooner rather than later.

According to the Tax Foundation, Illinois is second only to New Jersey in the cost of property taxes. No wonder a 2017 poll showed 67 percent of Illinois residents favor a permanent property tax freeze. When I talk to voters in the District, you always mention the never-ending growth of property taxes as one of your top 3 concerns.

There is no doubt property taxes are a major reason why Illinois continues to lose population. In 2016, Illinois lost more residents than any other state in nation.

I have been pushing for the formation of a property tax task force (House Resolution 139) to come up with a comprehensive solution to the issue of property taxes. While there have been many proposals on the table for a property tax freeze, these solutions are mostly a band-aid solution and are not the comprehensive solution we need.

I will continue to push for a comprehensive and permanent solution to lowering the cost of property taxes for Illinois residents.

Income taxes:

Democrats in Springfield banded together to pass a 32 percent income tax hike in July of 2017.

I voted against the income tax increase because I do not think taxpayers should have to pay the price for reckless spending in Springfield. Unfortunately, the tax increase approved in 2017 is just one round in an ongoing battle in Springfield. Advocates for tax increases are not going to be content with the July 2017 tax increase. Because no changes have been made in any area of State spending this tax increase will cover expense growth for only a couple of years.  There will certainly be many more tax fights in the near future.

I will continue to stand firm to protect taxpayers.

TRANSPARENCY IN GOVERNMENT

Illinois government is in turmoil right now for a host of reasons. One of the latest scandals to hit Springfield is a recent expose of sexual harassment incidents that unfortunately are more common place than people realize.

Sexual harassment training and oversight of an inspector general is long overdue. Individuals should be free to work in the arena of state government without fear of harassment and the implication of a quid pro quo based on sexual favors. It is shameful that the people writing our state’s laws would act this way.

Part of the reason individuals get away with this behavior is because they have accumulated too power simply by being a legislator for so long. I support term limits to prevent state government from being run by career politicians. Unfortunately, the people with the most to lose if term limits were enacted are the most vocal in trying stop them.

Illinois residents deserve better from their elected leaders. We need more transparency and accountability in government. I will continue to fight to make Illinois government serve Illinois residents – not the whims of career politicians and politically connected insiders.