Q & A in 106th District: Bennett

Legislative candidates were given the chance to submit answers to a questionnaire. Here, the answers from Tom Bennett, seeking the GOP nod in the 106th Illinois House District:


tmbennett@mchsi.com

06/08/1956

IT Manager at State Farm Insurance

Republican

Board of Trustees - Parkland College, K-12 School Board member

State Representative

106 Illinois House Legislative District

 

1. Would you vote to reduce retirement benefits to current state employees, or to require increased employee contributions by those employees in order to reduce long-term state obligations to the pension systems? Explain your decision.

This is a very emotionally charged topic. For years, Springfield has not kept their promises. Unions have done everything asked of them while legislators have used that money for other things. I have talked with folks, some of which work in public unions. Many have used phrases like "it needs to be a shared sacrifice," “defined contributions” and “defined benefits.” Most appear to agree that something needs to be done to make the pension system work. Many businesses have move toward defined contribution type pensions or no pensions at all. One state in the northeast has gone to a hybrid. Yet, many say that the Illinois Constitution does not allow a decrease in benefits to public unions without their approval. I also believe several court cases have challenged the “pension clause” and lost. 

But before taking a vote, I would like more information. We need to get a better handle on the money we actually have coming in and going out. What is the life expectancy of people today in these groups? What information can the actuaries, that do this for a living, tell us? Recommendations? We need to be able to take politics out of this as much as possible and focus on the numbers and the data to help drive our decisions. I believe there are several ways to approach this but here is my bottom line - we need to find a way for the pension system to stand on its own while at the same time being sensitive to the impact these changes would have on individuals, families, and communities. And is it competitive with private industry? Also, bring to the table the parties impacted.

Based on what we find in the data, yes, I would consider requiring increased employee contributions but at what level? I go back to my earlier comments, how much and what is the impact?

 

2. Would you ever vote to take a “pension holiday,” or not to fully fund the state's retirement systems?

no - that helped get us into some of the problems we have today. Would rather focus more in building an environment more friendly to small business. Doing that would go much farther in helping our economy grow and in creating more jobs.

 

3. Would you support the proposed increase in the state cigarette tax from 98 cents a pack to $1.98 a pack to help cut into the state budget deficit?

Answer 3:

no, not at this time

 

Answer 4:
 
Yes - For the good of everyone, we need to get a better handle on medicaid costs. There is waste, no doubt. We need to tighten things to help with costs but also need to make sure that those that really need help get it.
5. Would you support extending the current “temporary” state income tax increase beyond 2015, as a University of Illinois report has suggested, in order to help get the state out of its financial problems by as soon as 2019?

no, not at this time. Would rather focus more in building an environment more friendly to small business. Doing that would go much farther in helping our economy grow and in creating more jobs.

6. Would you vote for expanded gambling in Illinois, including but not limited to casinos in both Chicago and Danville?

No. Would rather focus more in building an environment more friendly to small business. Doing that would go much farther in helping our economy grow and in creating more jobs.

7. Would you support slot machines at racetracks in order to improve the state's horse racing industry?

no, not at this time. Would rather focus more in building an environment more friendly to small business. Doing that would go much farther in helping our economy grow and in creating more jobs.

8. Would you support legalized online gaming in Illinois, including the online sale of state lottery tickets?

no, not at this time. Would rather focus more in building an environment more friendly to small business. Doing that would go much farther in helping our economy grow and in creating more jobs.

9. Would you support broadening the Illinois income tax to include retirement and Social Security income?

no, not at this time. We have taxed too much already. Would rather focus more in building an environment more friendly to small business. Doing that would go much farther in helping our economy grow and in creating more jobs.

10. Would you vote to reinstate the death penalty in Illinois?

yes

11. Do you favor expanding Illinois' sales tax to include services?

No, not at this time. This question is about raising taxes. I would rather focus more in building an environment more friendly to small business. Doing that would go much farther in helping our economy grow and in creating more jobs.

12. Would you vote for term limits for all legislators? If so, how many years should an Illinois lawmaker be allowed to serve?

Yes. My initial thoughts - State Rep - 10 years. State Senate - 8 years. Am flexible. I would also support term limits on how long you can be speaker of the house or leader of the state senate.

13. Would you vote to permit the carrying of concealed weapons in Illinois?

Yes. Why do we have the FOID card? I don't believe any state around us requires it.

14. Do you support any further reforms in Illinois' campaign finance and disclosure laws?

Transparency is key. Show where the money is going to and coming from. The online application is very helpful. Keep the rules simple and straight forward. It should be structured so that it encourages new comers to run, 1st time candidates that have desire but lack knowledge of what might be needed to run for public office. Classes use to be offered but no longer.

15. Would you support legislation requiring voters to show a photo identification card?

yes -

16. Would you vote to abolish the Illinois General Assembly scholarship program?

Yes

17. Would you favor a program to release non-violent offenders from state prison in order to reduce the prison population and cut costs?

No, not at this time. People go to prison for a reason. However, there may be some proven programs found across the country that offer promise and deserve consideration. However, more research is needed before changes are made.

18. Would you support legislation requiring recipients of SNAP (food stamp) benefits to show a photo identification card?

Yes.

19. Would you support legislation that would restrict the purchase of certain foods, such as high-fat snacks and sweetened soft drinks, with SNAP cards?

YES - If we are going to use them and they're paid for by taxpayers. SNAP cards should be used to purchase only necessary items.

20. Would you support the general election, rather than the gubernatorial appointment, of members of the University of Illinois board of trustees?

Yes. It was this way several years ago.

21. Do you believe that the state needs to markedly consolidate the approximately 880 school districts in Illinois?

We need to continually look to see where it makes sense to consolidate schools due to sound financial or academic reasons. This will be more case by case.

22. What steps should the state take to improve its business climate?

Small business drives the economy. We need to do several things including getting a handle on our pensions, medicaid, reduce income and corporate taxes, worker's comp, and tort reform. We also need to take a serious look at the licenses, fees, and regulations that impact small business and farm operations. I was recently endorsed by Illinois Farm Bureau - Activator.

 

 

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