2012 election candidate questionnaire: Naomi Jakobsson, state House, 103rd District

Editor's note: The News-Gazette asked candidates to answer questions regarding themselves and the office they seek.

Naomi D. Jakobsson

803 West Main Street

Urbana, IL 61801

Democrat

DOB: 9/28/41

BA in History, University of Illinois

Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language, University of Illinois

1. What should the Legislature do to resolve the enormous pension funding shortfall? Do you believe lawmakers can constitutionally reduce pension benefits? Can some of the pension costs be shared with local governments? Are there any other methods of addressing this problem?

I believe the ultimate solution to the pension funding shortfall will need the following elements:

A constitutional amendment to permit the Legislature to levy a graduated income tax, permitting a higher rate for higher income taxpayers and a lower rate for lower incomes. Such a tax would increase overall revenues while lowering taxes for most Illinois residents. This would rectify a situation in which Illinois is a high tax state for those with lower incomes, and a low tax state for those with higher incomes.

Through agreed negotiations with the state and public schools and universities a shift, phased in over several years, of obligation for required employer pension contributions from the state to public schools and universities.

Making pensions subject to state income tax and requiring retirees to pay a portion of health care premiums. The tax and premiums should be weighted to protect the retirees on low pensions.

Reduced schedule of benefits and slower accrual to full benefits for new hires to the state.

Elimination of abuses in the system, such as large end-of-career raises to boost retirement benefits, so that individuals get benefits out of proportion to their contributions over the course of their careers. It should also not be possible to impose on the state enormous pension costs totally out of proportion to employee contributions for high-level late career hires into the system, such as university presidents.

Such a package of reforms would require concessions from many parties — high-income residents, educational institutions, and current and future retirees. It will need all of us to put aside political blame games and think seriously about how each group can contribute to solve the problem. The 2013 legislative session, not an election year but a year in which the problem is clearly seen as urgent, is our best opportunity. My special role in this will be to reintroduce the constitutional amendment to permit a graduated income tax that I introduced last year, but in addition I will work for comprehensive reform as outlined above.

2. Do you think the state income tax increase passed in 2011 should remain in full effect, or should it be reduced, as scheduled, in 2015? Why or why not?

My hope is that the Fair Tax Amendment to permit a progressive income tax will pass the General Assembly and be on the ballot for the citizens to approve in the 2014 election. If that passes, as I hope and will work for, in 2015 we will be able to reduce taxes for most Illinois residents in 2015 but more than make up for that with higher rates on higher incomes.

3. What more can be done to draw down the enormous backlog of bills (aside from pension obligations) that must be paid?

We are drawing down the backlog, albeit too slowly. Our tax revenues for the fiscal year just ended exceeded our appropriations for the year. The important thing is to continue that discipline each year. Also any new revenue, for example possibly from gambling expansion, should go to reducing the backlog rather than for any new programs or increasing appropriations to existing programs.

4. Are more Medicaid spending cuts needed than those enacted in the last two years?

A) The answer to this depends on circumstances that are currently unpredictable and beyond our ability to control at the state level. In particular, we do not yet know whether the federal Affordable Care Act will survive potential political challenges, and if it does survive, exactly how it will impinge on state Medicaid obligations. In the best scenario, which in my opinion is reasonable to hope for, the Affordable Care Act incentives for cost containment will result in being able to provide Medicaid benefits at less cost. In other scenarios, which we must be prepared for, we might need to reduce Medicaid spending by making more cuts. I will face that if necessary, but will do everything I can to avoid that being necessary.

5. What areas of state government need to endure more budget cuts than they have thus far?

B) My hope is that we are not going to need to make more cuts overall, but we should always be reexamining our priorities. Our budget for incarcerating convicts, for example, is very large. We should be sure that budget is spent in the most cost-effective way. For example, faced with budget cuts some prisons have eliminated prison librarian positions, drastically reducing prisoner access to books and further education. Yet there are studies showing clearly that reading and education in prison reduce recidivism upon release, so cutting back on these functions is penny-wise and pound-foolish.

6. Do you favor limiting the disposal of PCBs and chemical wastes at the Clinton landfill? If so, what can the Illinois Legislature do to restrict that disposal?

I strongly oppose the dumping into the Clinton landfill of PCBs and other chemical wastes that could leach into the Mahomet aquifer. The right way to dispose of such chemicals is by temporary storage at the site of use and then chemical transformation into harmless substances, by one of many known methods. The companies that wish to dump over our aquifer frankly want to save the cost of proper treatment by putting the safety of our community's long-term water supply at risk. I hope by the testimony and evidence of state legislative hearings that we can persuade the federal EPA to prohibit the proposed dumping. If that fails, I will urge the state to take any and all other legislative and court actions to prevent the dumping.

7. As a cost-saving measure, does the Legislature need to act to reduce the number of school districts in the state?

As a general issue I am concerned about the fraction of the education dollar that goes to administration rather than direct instruction at every level, from K through university. The issue of reducing the number of school districts should be considered in the context of this general issue. I am not yet convinced either way on the issue of whether reducing the number of school districts in itself will be an effective strategy for reducing costs without damaging some good aspects of our rural schools.

8. Do you think state government is inherently corrupt? If so, what can be done?

Illinois government is no more inherently corrupt than any other government at any level. It is as corrupt as we will tolerate. We have made progress in the post-Blagojevich years in banning and limiting some forms of campaign contributions and otherwise reforming our political practices. Indeed, under laws we recently passed it would not have been possible for Gov. Blagojevich to use the methods he did to assemble the enormous campaign war chest that enabled him to scare off primary opposition and overwhelm his general election opposition for re-election to his second term. In particular, we have improved requirements for campaign financing disclosures, strengthened the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, imposed limits on the size of campaign contributions, restricted state employees from taking jobs with organizations they have regulated, improved disclosure of lobbying expenditures, mandated ethical training for lobbyists, and have made major strides toward eliminating political influence in state procurement and contracting. It is a cliche that Illinois government is deeply corrupt, but that cliche is significantly less true than it used to be. That being said, there are still many improvements in the ethical climate of Illinois state government yet to be made. Further steps I favor include:

More complete publicly available statements of economic interests for elected officials and administrators in state government

Non-partisan and publicly funded judicial elections.

Non-partisan redistricting after the next census in 2020 and beyond (similar to the Iowa plan).

9. Are there are reforms, changes needed in Illinois' tax structure that should be enacted to bring in more revenue?

As indicated above, the most important reform is to enable the Legislature to enact a graduated or progressive income tax.

10. Are you concerned about the potential use of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in Illinois? Should the practice be banned in Illinois, or limited in someway?

I am very concerned about fracking and have been working hard on legislation that would enable it with appropriate safeguards, but would impose a moratorium until those safeguards are in place. It is important to utilize natural gas because it is a relatively clean energy source, producing much less carbon dioxide per energy content than either coal or oil. However, there are significant environmental concerns. I have tried hard to understand the relevant scientific and technical issues based on knowledgeable and independent scientists. It appears that groundwater contamination from the fracking itself can be avoided by choosing only locations where the gas is sufficiently removed from aquifers that there is effectively no direct gas-deposit to groundwater contamination. However, there is a major concern about effective containment, treatment and spill and seepage monitoring procedures for the fracking fluid loaded with chemicals that is returned to the surface from the fracking process. The discussions with all parties are far enough along that I am optimistic that in the coming year we will arrive at legislation to enable fracking with appropriate environmental safeguards, so that we can realize the benefits to Illinois and its citizens and the entire nation of the responsible use of this resource.

11. What can the Legislature do to limit tuition increases at public universities and should the Legislature act to limit tuition increases?

The issue is not just tuition, but affordability; that is, tuition relative to financial aid. I believe we should give our universities the charge that no Illinois resident should be unable to attend an Illinois public university for financial reasons. (It is my understanding that University of Illinois does not turn away students for inability to pay tuition.) This could be achieved either by low tuition, or by higher tuition but higher levels of financial aid for students with lesser financial resources, or by increased tuition for students from outstate or for international students, or some combination of these means. The exact method of fulfilling the overall affordability requirement should be left to the judgment of the university administration, but the university should be accountable for fulfilling the charge.

12. Do you favor expanded gambling in Illinois, including casinos in Chicago and Danville? How about slot machines at racetracks?

I voted for the expanded gambling bill that the Governor recently vetoed. This was a departure for me, because I have in the past been a consistent opponent of expanded gambling on the grounds of the social costs of problem gambling or gambling addiction. Frankly, this was a vote that I cast reluctantly rather than enthusiastically. At the end of the day I cast it because I became convinced that our society is so saturated with gambling opportunities (illegal, online, etc.) that passing this legislation would not result in an increase in problem gambling but rather would simply divert some dollars from other gambling activities to the state, which desperately needs them during this period of financial crisis. On the other hand, we should be under no illusion that gambling will be a long-term solution to the state's financial problems. The long-term solutions will come from elsewhere, as I have outlined in other sections of this questionnaire.

13. What can be done to lower worker compensation costs in Illinois?

In general, I support the analysis and the recommendations in the report issued earlier this year by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). Most importantly, there needs to be demonstration of cause for workers compensation claims. It is important that legitimate cases of worker injury on the job be compensated, but it has become clear that many frivolous unsubstantiated claims have been paid out. Central Management Services (CMS) of the state has generally not done an adequate job of managing this issue. Dysfunction in this area is one of the remaining legacies of the Blagojevich administration. We should consider moving responsibility for overseeing and implementing the bulk of workers compensation review to the OAG, which currently has responsibility for a small part of this and is doing that part well.

14. Would you favor a conceal-carry law in Illinois? If so, what sort of public safety provisions should be part of the legislation?

I am opposed to conceal-carry. All the credible evidence and analysis that I have seen tells me that conceal-carry would result in a net decline in public safety. In a poll conducted in the 103rd District, over 66 percent of the constituents polled opposed conceal-carry.

Comments

News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

jdmac44 wrote on October 02, 2012 at 10:10 am

When was this poll on conceal carry conducted?  How was it publicized?  Who participated in it.  Dr. John Lott conducted the most in-depth study possible on the effects of conceal carry in his book More Guns, Less Crime, I would challenge Ms. Jakobsson to read that book.  39 states now have Shall Issue conceal carry and a few more do not require a license, none of the ill effects that were predicted by opponents came true, many different law enforcement officials such as Chief Finney changed their minds about conceal carry and now support it.  I can't get Ms. Jakobsson to answer my letters with anything more than a form letter, she will not meet with her constituents to discuss this issue, it is my opinion that she is personally opposed to conceal carry and is not interested in her constituents interests on this matter.  Please vote her out of office.

jdmac44 wrote on October 02, 2012 at 11:10 am

 

“violent crimes are 81 percent higher in states without nondiscretionary laws [states with May-Issue laws, meaning that applications can and are often denied for conceal carry licenses].  For murder, states that ban the concealed carrying of guns have murder rates 127 percent higher than states with the most liberal concealed carry laws.  After all the states have adopted these laws in 2007, the difference is much smaller: just 25 percent for violent crime and 28 percent for murder.”  John Lott, More Guns, Less Crime, P. 47  Comment in brackets mine, elaborating on information given earlier in the chapter.

What really baffles me is that Ms. Jakobsson is supposedly a staunch supporter of women's rights and yet women have the most to gain from legal and licensed conceal carry.  For the first time in history, the smaller and weaker have the ability to fend off the larger and stronger and yet those who make themselves out to be wise take that ability away?  This includes those who are smaller in stature, less aggressive, the elderly, the infirm or disabled, they are left helpless and at the mercy of anyone who would choose to victimize them, it just doesn't make any sense to me that this is the position of the supposedly compassionate party.

The bill that has recently almost passed with a super majority in the General Assembly, HB0148 has the support of a great many law enforcement agencies and police chiefs, it was crafted to require the utmost in training for safety and legal discretion, it is as stringent in its requirements as any other proposed license in the country, any breach of public safety found anywhere in the nation is statistically insignificant, while there are numerous documented cases of conceal carry being used for good, to prevent crimes, even if a shot isn't ever fired (see KeepAndBearArms.com for citations of journalistic sources) and yet, just enough remaining representatives in their own wisdom oppose the personal choice of individuals to protect themselves outside of their homes.

shurstrike wrote on October 02, 2012 at 7:10 pm

You're rignt on the money. 

There is no legitimate study which shows that public safety is compromised in states with conceal carry.  It simply doesn't happen and I'm certain she's just pandering to her voting block.  We live in the most regressive state in the Union.

Prove me wrong, Naomi, and share all that "credible evidence" with us.

read the DI wrote on October 06, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Somewhere, my good friend John is cackling with delight. He knows, even if you don't, that his work is highly flawed. But he makes so much money from it, he doesn't care too much about the science.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 03, 2012 at 9:10 am
Profile Picture

All of the financial problems that our state is facing, some of which are mentioned in this article...and all the comments are about the relatively microscopic issue of guns.

Very telling.

jdmac44 wrote on October 03, 2012 at 11:10 am

I don't expect the people who created the problem of Illinois' monstrous economic woes to solve them, but since I have to share the streets with the people who have been driven to desperation (i.e. crime) because of them...yeah, it's my main concern where the representative of the 103rd District of Illinois is concerned, when she is supposed to be my representative and I know that she has no interest in solving that problem.  Let's put it this way, I know she's under pressure already with respect to economic issues, I know there are less people raising the alarm about Right to Carry in Illinois, I am one of them and I know that I have to be diligent.  It seems like you're indifferent, so really you're just criticizing my legitimate concern as a voting citizen, I'd appreciate it if you'd take your non-constructive comments elsewhere.  Thank you.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 04, 2012 at 4:10 am
Profile Picture

Are you really that worried about getting mugged or robbed in Champaign Urbana?  So much so that you think guns are either a top issue, or even the most important one?  If so, you're paranoid.  But don't worry, you have a lot of company.

"I know there are less people raising the alarm about Right to Carry in Illinois"  That's funny, I seem to hear a lot of them.

I understand that there are a lot of folks who feel the need to carry a gun in order to feel like a man and/or to give them the illusion of security, but there are more important issues at hand.

I'm for concealed carry, purely from a personal freedom standpoint.  But unlike a lot of concealed carry supporters, I'm not naive enough to think that it's a magic wand that will seriously curb violent crime.

jdmac44 wrote on October 04, 2012 at 10:10 am

You're assuming a great deal about what many people think without having even met them.  I don't think conceal carry is a magic wand, in fact I participate on a conceal carry advocacy forum and I often relate my personal experience, being held up at gun point, and I caution that anyone who carries should do so in what is termed as "deep concealment", because I know from my experience the way they organized themselves to get the drop on my friend and I and the way they searched me, they would have found a typical IWB holster or otherwise and I'm afraid that they probably would have shot us, being in the mindset that they were.  If you want to read the story, register on IllinoisCarry.com and search "South Africa".  

Security is not an illusion if you're for example walking your dog after dark in a neighborhood that has been known for random attacks on white males and you are sure to check your surroundings periodically, to keep distance from strangers when you come upon them, to have a plan for evasive actions, taking cover, making yourself a difficult target and having the means to overcome numbers and greater physical strength, i.e. a firearm.  Yes, it is naive to think that a gun is a solution for all problems, I never said it was, but it's just as naive to think that a gun will do you no good, so why bother wanting to be able to carry one.

To me, a gun is one tool, one option, albeit and important one that I want to have the choice to be able to use at any time I believe it is necessary.  It is an important issue to me, if it's not to you, that's your business, but for someone who thinks personal freedom is important, you seem really concerned about quashing mine.  Maybe if you posed your concerns as questions, such as "why do you feel this is so important?"  "Do you think guns are a magic wand?", rather than implying how shallow and inconsequential you think my views are without even knowing me, maybe I wouldn't be so annoyed and we could have a much more constructive conversation.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 04, 2012 at 5:10 pm
Profile Picture

"You're assuming a great deal about what many people think without having even met them."

On the contrary, I've met a lot of concealed carriers and a lot of people who intensely support concealed carry.  Family and friends included.  The more of them I have met, the more convinced I have become that many of them are paranoid and easily rattled.

"Security is not an illusion if you're for example walking your dog after dark in a neighborhood that has been known for random attacks on white males"

How many of those are there in Champaign-Urbana?  Yes, there are some neighborhoods in town where I wouldn't want to walk by myself after dark, but that's why I don't walk there after dark.

"for someone who thinks personal freedom is important, you seem really concerned about quashing mine.  Maybe if you posed your concerns as questions, rather than implying how shallow and inconsequential you think my views are without even knowing me, maybe I wouldn't be so annoyed and we could have a much more constructive conversation."

I didn't say those views were yours specifically, just that they described the mindset of many of the concealed carry arguments that I have heard.  I stand by my original assertion that, yes, this is a shallow issue compared to many others that the state of Illinois is facing.

serf wrote on October 08, 2012 at 11:10 am

 

On the contrary, I've met a lot of concealed carriers and a lot of people who intensely support concealed carry.  Family and friends included.  The more of them I have met, the more convinced I have become that many of them are paranoid and easily rattled.

 

+1.  That's been my experience as well.  The people who cry for it the most are the exact same group of folks who believe in stuff like the illuminati, one world order, gov't conspiracies, etc...

 

jdmac44 wrote on October 04, 2012 at 8:10 pm

You're assuming a lot about me and plenty of people that I know.

Every person has to take into account certain risks and benefits to everything they do.  Most people wear seatbelts when they drive, habitually.  Are they paranoid for doing so?  Should you pick and choose when you think you're more likely to encounter an accident?  Is it a light issue?  The State of Illinois doesn't seem to think so.  You cannot say whether or not you will or won't encounter someone with violent intent on any given day in any given place, if you choose to roll the dice and say "eh, I'll be fine", that's your choice, but for you to sit in judgement of my choice not to is rediculous and offensive, as is your critique as to whether or not my concern about my right to carry being suppressed in this state is valid.

I'm arguing for my rights, you're arguing for the sake of arguing.  Which is more asinine?  I'm done talking to you.

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 04, 2012 at 10:10 pm

If Mike Madigan, and Tom Cross wanted you to carry a hidden gun; they would have a law passed for you to do so.  Instead of paying dues to the NRA, give "campaign donations" to both political parties in Springfield.  If there is enough money donated across the state, a law will be passed for you.  Of course, money will have to be donated every year for you to keep the law.  It's Illinois.  It has nothing to do with your rights.  It's your money that gets your law.  Call Chad Hayes about it.

bluegrass wrote on October 08, 2012 at 10:10 am

Somewhere, Naomi Jakobsson is cackling, because she's laid out the remains of her spend and spend and spend and spend and spend, oh, and tax, policies the democrats in Illinois have been following for the past 40 years which have bankrupted the state, and the only conversation on this board is about right to carry.  I'm for right to carry, but WHO CARES right now?  We need to elect people with enough guts to actually solve the financial problems of this state, and Namoi Jakobsson and Mike Frerichs share the stage as two local policitians who are exactly the problem right now.  They can do no more than bow to their Chicago masters who control the house, and the senate, and their re-election campaign money.


#2.  She's for a graduated income tax that lowers the tax on some, but makes up for that by raising the tax on people making more money.  If that creates a wash, we're still running a multi-billion dollard deficit, but we've given people with higher incomes a bigger incentive to move to another state. 


#5.  The answer to finding more places to cut budget line items, is to increase funding for prison libraries.


#7.  What did she say?  Answer, nothing.  She said nothing.


#8.  Is Illinois government corrupt?  Her answer, "no, not really."  Huh?  Two governors in prison, along with many of their aids and cohorts.  Nah.  But , she favors non-partison redistricting after the 2020 census, which will be in 2030, at which time she will be around 89...  That's taking a stand people.


 

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 08, 2012 at 11:10 am

bluegrass;  I agree with all that you said except for one thing.  The two governors in prison are from both parties.  Your right about what you said; but Illinois is bipartisan in corruption.  Both parties have stolen this state blind.  Something has to be done about the corruption.  Mike Madigan, Tom Cross, Cullerton, Brady, Quinn, and the rest of the gang has to go in order to save the state.  There should be no special interest money whether corporations, or union, campaign donations going to any candidate. 

bluegrass wrote on October 08, 2012 at 11:10 am

Sid, I love you buddy, but the only time you are ever bipartisan on anything is when you're claiming corruption.

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm

bluegrass;  "Claiming corruption"?  Come on, you know that both parties are up to their ears in it.  Why do we have redistricting of voting districts?  Both parties rig it when they are in power.  You may be anti-union, and conservative; and I may be union, and moderate.  The system plays us against each other when we have more issues we agree on than disagree on.  Look at the gridlock in Congress.  There are grave issues that need addressing; but the fools do not compromise with each other for the good of the country because of the special interest money from the lobbies.  What would happen if voters quit following a strict party line; and voted on common interests?  I have voted for Democrats, and Republicans over the years.  I, now, hold both parties in disdain.  I end up voting for the lesser evil instead of a better third, or fourth candidate.  Put aside the R, and the D.  Compromise instead of all, or nothing. 

highspeed wrote on October 09, 2012 at 9:10 am

Naomi tell me what`s wrong with making some money, off of a conceal carry law! Oh that`s right it isn`t about raising money for the state, it`s about our own agenda.All of the other states are making a fortune off Illinois residents purchasing non resident conceal carry permits. Naomi is like all the rest of the politicians, it`s not about "we the people" it`s all about "we the politicians"