Dems vying to replace Jakobsson differ on tax cut, wages, pot

Dems vying to replace Jakobsson differ on tax cut, wages, pot

URBANA — Meeting face to face for the first time, the two candidates for the Democratic nomination for the 103rd Illinois House seat — Carol Ammons and Sam Rosenberg — agreed on most issues although they differed on a proposed corporate tax cut, the size of a minimum-wage increase and marijuana decriminalization.

About 100 people packed the room at the Brookens Administrative Center in east Urbana for the debate that was sponsored by the Champaign County Young Democrats and the North End Breakfast Club. Among those in the crowd was state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, whose retirement prompted the primary contest.

Who won? Ask Tom Kacich here

Following the hourlong debate, Jakobsson said she still isn't backing a candidate in the race although she added, "maybe that could change." Her husband, Urbana City Council member Eric Jakobsson, has endorsed Rosenberg.

Ammons said she opposes cutting Illinois' corporate tax rate in half, an idea proposed last week by House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago. But Rosenberg said he supported the idea, as well as a cut in the cost of filing as a limited liability corporation, an idea endorsed by Gov. Pat Quinn.

"I believe that the situation in Illinois is one in which we need to become more active with regard to improving the business environment," he said, adding, "Despite the negative publicity, despite the negative perception, Illinois still remains one of the top three states in the nation for entrepreneurs and new companies. We have more of a perception problem than actually one in which the business climate in Illinois is as bad as people say it is.

"This is a great state, but I believe we can do better, and cutting that corporate tax rate is something that we'll be able to do and will help out the state in the long run by increasing revenues and bringing more individuals into the state to work and help our tax base."

Ammons said the corporate tax cut "will send Illinois further into a fiscal spiral."

"What has happened in the last four months? The Speaker has told us that you need to cut the pensions because the pensions are a big problem in the state. And then a week later, he tells us that we need to give tax loopholes to corporations and cut their taxes further," she said. "Unless you tie a job incentive package, a retention package to those cuts, you will not have anything to actually go on."

She added that "we certainly don't want to cut taxes when we're billions of dollars in debt, and we can't pay the $7 billion in back bills that we currently have. So to cut your revenue when you don't have any is not a policy that I would support."

Both candidates endorsed a move from a flat income tax to a progressive tax, an idea that Jakobsson has championed.

On the minimum wage, Rosenberg said he supported an increase to $10 an hour while Ammons pushed for boosting it to $15.

"The interesting thing about a $15 raise is that even at $15, it won't actually cover the real cost of living because we have not kept pace with it over the last 10 to 20 years," she said.

She noted that many minimum-wage workers work more than one job "because there is not enough revenue in the hourly salary that they earn. And that's because corporations aren't making a lot of money on the profit side. We have to change that. My job is to make sure that not only do we change (the minimum wage) now, but look at changing it every single year to keep pace with the cost of living in the state."

Rosenberg said that he favored a more modest increase, contending the larger increase would be "disastrous."

"As for jumping to something such as $15, while it may be ideal and maybe what we are looking for in the long run, it would be something that would be disastrous. And once again getting to the idea of perception, it would drive away many corporations from expanding in this community, especially in comparison to other states," the 29-year-old Champaign attorney said.

Ammons, 42, an Urbana City Council member, said the state is wasting money "on a failed war on drugs. That's the reality. We have millions of people that are locked up in this state, that are locked up for nonviolent offenses that could be in community-based services that we know cost less money."

She said the money saved on cutting the number of prison inmates should go to education.

"I am in favor of decriminalization" of marijuana, Ammons said after the debate.

Rosenberg said only that "I think it's an idea that at least needs to be examined. We need to see what's going on in other states before we even consider it in Illinois."

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ROB McCOLLEY wrote on February 06, 2014 at 12:02 am
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$15 an hour is an insane mandate to impose on the typical hot dog stand. It's embarrasing (disqualifyingly so) for Carol that she's so obviously never had to balance a budget.


On the other hand, Sam's reactionary stance on the failed war on drugs is unconscionable.


Oh crap, no good candidates again.


Naomi, you're not that old! Come back to us.

EdRyan wrote on February 06, 2014 at 6:02 am

A problem with the minimum wage is that it has not been increased in small, gradual steps.  Thus big increases are proposed that leave small business owners in shock.

Another issue is the business climate which calling it bad is an understatement.  Despite all the happy talk about growth and recovery, that growth and recovery only seems to be happening in DC, New York, and San Francisco.  Everyone else is hanging on as best they can because there sure isn't any growth and recovery around here.

If Illinois has such a great business climate why do so many businesses bypass Illinois due to the high cost of doing business?  Why does the State of Illinois outsource operations to low cost operators in Indiana instead of locating those jobs in Illinois?

cjwinla wrote on February 06, 2014 at 7:02 am

The whole cut the corporate tax (ie lose revenue) and in the long run revenues will increase is a failed Republican principle that has been proven flawed. $1.2 billion projected lost revenue in year 1. I watched the debate and if you did you would see what this article did not convey. Ammons made a proposal for Technology Zones and had hand outs deserving the proposed policy. Wish I could have been there to get a handout with details because it sounded like a great idea for Champaign Urbana. This reporter failed to even mention it which is unfortunate but typical. 

787 wrote on February 06, 2014 at 7:02 am

If I proposed that the minimum wage should be $20 an hour, would that make me a better candidate than Ammons?

Some people would say "yes". 

ericbussell wrote on February 06, 2014 at 8:02 am

I got the feeling the Rosenberg is somewhat reasonable and has some respect for the challenges that Illionis is facing.  Ammons is clearly a radical liberal who will actively deter investment in our state.  I'm sure business and investors will come flocking to Illinois if we start adding more radicals to the legislator.  I'm sure nothing will address uncertainty concerns among job creators in the small and medium sized business community than drastic increases to the cost of doing business.   (That was sarcasm).  

Here are a few issues that Ammons will most certainly make worse with her approach to economic development:

Unemployment among youths in Illinois, defined as workers age 16-24 who seek work, is at crisis levels. Through 2012, 18.5 percent of workers age 16-24 are unemployed, including 27.1 percent of workers 16-19. Minority unemployment rates are even worse:
- 29.0 percent of blacks and 31.5 percent of Latinos age 16-19 are unemployed.
- 25.9 percent of blacks and 11.2 percent of Latinos age 20-24 are unemployed.

Over the past decade, Illinois has enrolled more than 100 people on food stamps for every job created.

The state ended 2013 – a year of dismal employment – with an even worse December. Illinois moved from having the fourth-worst unemployment rate in November to the third-worst in December, falling behind Michigan. Only Nevada and Rhode Island remain worse. The unemployment rate in Illinois fell to 8.6 percent from 8.7 percent, while the national rate fell to 6.7 percent from 7 percent in the same time period. Illinois’ state unemployment rate only stayed flat because so many people left the workforce. The number of unemployed Illinoisans has decreased by 6,671 since December 2012. However, the size of the workforce shrank. A startling 78,713 Illinoisans gave up and left the workforce.


If the argument is that a high cost of doing business does not impact jobs and job growth, why limit the increase in minimum wage to only 82%??  

sprk1 wrote on February 06, 2014 at 9:02 am

As usual the News-Gazette just cant seem to help adding their personal bias to a story. Tom Kacich is close with several people on the Rosenberg campaign and the conflict of interest shows in his reporting. He should not be allowed to report on this campaign because he is close to Rosenberg and close to many of the top people involved in the Rosenberg campaign. He has taken statements made by Mrs. Ammons, put them in this article out of context and reported them as her official position. What Ammons actually said about the minimum wage is that she would love to see it go to $15, but $10 or $11 would be where she would start with annual cost of living increases to keep up with inflation. Kacich reports this as supporting an immediate jump to $15 an hour then reports that it would be disasterous. Conversely he has innacurately reported Mr Rosenberg's statements on marijuana in a transparent attempt to make him even more acceptable to the conservative voter. During the debate both candidates made it clear that recreational marijuana in Illinois is something they would consider, Kachic has reported something entirely different here. I am once again disgusted with the News-Gazette.


Tom Kacich wrote on February 06, 2014 at 9:02 am
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Carol Ammons' quote on the minimum wage:

"I would like for it to be raised to $15. And the interesting thing about the $15 raise is that even at $15 it won't actually cover the real cost of living because we've not kept pace with it over the last 10 to 20 years.

"So raising it to $10.65 or $11 or $12 is just the start of one of the ways that we need to bring equity and parity and jobs and opportunities in our community."

Sam Rosenberg's quote on marijuana decriminalization:

"With regards to the war on drugs I do believe that the decriminalization of marijuana overall, not just for medical purposes, needs to examined, as is being done in Colorado."

sprk1 wrote on February 06, 2014 at 10:02 am

Exactly. Rosenberg -"I do believe that the decriminalization of marijuana overall, not just for medical purposes needs to be examined, as is being done in Colorado" 

I spoke to several people who were at the debate before voicing my opinion. The consensus was unanimous. Everyone I spoke to walked away from the debate believing that both candidates were open to the decriminalization of marijuana. You reported that the candidates differ on pot. Your reporting is innacurate and is a mischarachterization of what Rosenberg said and where he stands on this issue.

Same with Ammons statement. "$10.65 or $11 or $12 is just the start" you have reported that she wants an immediate jump to $15. That is innacurate and a mischarachterization of what she said. 

With all due respect, your bias toward Mr Rosenberg and against Mrs Ammons was made clear by the quotes you provided compared to the article you wrote. If your ties to people on the Rosenberg campaign prevent you from reporting fairly (I don't see how they cant prevent you from being unbiased) then you shouldn't report on it at all and let someone who doesn't have close ties to one of the candidates do the reporting.     


ericbussell wrote on February 06, 2014 at 1:02 pm

It was pretty clear that Ammons is pushing for a $15/hour minimum wage as Tom reported.  Referring to other proposals as "just the start" does not negate her stated desire to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour.  She even claimed to have stood outside in the cold protesting for a $15/hour minimum wage. 

I don't claim to understand dem primary voters, but if Tom was allegedly trying paint Rosenberg as against legalizing marijuana, wouldn't that hurt him and not help him?  If so, that doesn't support this Tom Kacich conspiracy theory.  I personally didn't walk away thinking they differed on pot and agree with you in that sense (one wants to dicriminalize and one wants to evaluate it...not a huge difference) but the overall logic to your argument seems flawed.  

Tvrz1 wrote on February 06, 2014 at 8:02 pm

I disagree that " Ammons is pushing for a $15/hour minimum wage " if that were the case she wouldn't have even mentioned starting at 10 or 11 an hour. Yes some day the minimum wage will reach 15 dollars an hour and it is a nice wish for people who work a minimum wage job, but for this reporter to have given readers the impression that $15 is where she wants to start is factually inaccurate.

I remember Ammons talking about walking picket with workers for a living wage, I do not remember her saying that they were demanding $15 an hour.  To me the fact that an elected official would walk picket with minimum wage workers says a lot about her character and the kind of person she is. Rosenberg has never done anything like that and probably never will. In fact what he said is that when he isn't in Springfield voting he plans to jet around the country on our dime.

As far as the inaccurate marijuana position that was reported, that is easy to explain. There is a split in the local Democratic Party. Rosenberg has sided with the democrats who vote and think like a moderate Republican. To this conservative type of so called democrat his marijuana position will hurt him.

ericbussell wrote on February 07, 2014 at 9:02 am

Are you really suggesting that activists who are protesting for a $15/hour minimum wage are not really advocating for raising the minimum wage to $15/hour?  To watch the debate and take that away requires some creative interpretation.  

ericbussell wrote on February 07, 2014 at 9:02 am

Are you really suggesting that activists who are protesting for a $15/hour minimum wage are not really advocating for raising the minimum wage to $15/hour?  To watch the debate and take that away requires some creative interpretation.  

cretis16 wrote on February 06, 2014 at 10:02 am

I dont see how anyone can trust Ammons after that out right lie on the school board fiasco, coupled with the diploma mill incident. Rosenberg does seem to be a lot more practical and workable. I can imagine all the insane legislation that Ammons would propose if she is so confident of a $15/hr. minimum wage...why not $25, why not provide free cars for the unemployed to get to the job site? This is a pretty embarrsing candidate for state office. Rosenberg at least seems to have ideas that have a sense of workability.

New Reality wrote on February 06, 2014 at 11:02 am

After watching the debate, I can't imagine how anyone could disagree that Carol Ammons was the clear winner. 

Of the two, she was the only one who offered concrete approaches and new ideas. Her vision for a Technology Zone, for example is fresh, innovative, and forward-thinkng. It is exactly what the 103rd District needs to help drive our economy. Count me among those that are disappointed that the NG didn't bother to even mention it here as it is, frankly, worthy of it's own article. By comparison, Sam Rosenberg, only offered empty platitudes, hoping that voters might confuse rhetoric with substance.

Ms. Ammons, by contrast, separated herself as the candidate who understands what is needed to get things done. 

Those that are suggesting that she is "radical" are among the same bunch that want to deny health insurance to people with pre-existing conditions, and believe that we should wait for the wealthy to provide trickle-down crumbs for the rest of us. 



Sid Saltfork wrote on February 06, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Which ever one of them wins matters little.  The winner will still be beholden to the Speaker of the House for campaign funding.  It would be no different for the GOP winner if that were to happen.  The difference between the two parties is a minor grey area.  The candidates will spout their views; but they will do as they are told if they win. 

alabaster jones 71 wrote on February 06, 2014 at 5:02 pm
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Although, since Rosenberg is Madigan's candidate, I imagine Ammons would be at least a little less beholden to him.

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 07, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Your theory is "the least beholden is the best".  Who ever gets elected from either party will end up beholden to outside campaign donors.  That could be the party leaders, union groups, conservative PACs, local real estate developers, or "Friends of .."   The point is that it costs big money to get elected.  Who ever has the most money is the probable winner.  Everyone knows how to spell "Rauner" by now.  The days of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" are over.  They might start out as a maverick; but they end up doing what they are told to keep getting elected.  It becomes a profession.  Maybe, the second oldest one.

Tvrz1 wrote on February 06, 2014 at 8:02 pm

After reading this story I have to wonder if Tom Kacich and I were at the same debate.

I agree with the person above. If the News Gazette had any integrity whatsoever Kacich would not be allowed to report on this race. 

If the News Gazette wants to retain any credibility in this community they will force kacich to write a retraction and report what actually happened and then ban him from any further writing on this race because of his close ties to the Rosenberg campaign

Local Yocal wrote on February 07, 2014 at 10:02 am
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On the minimum wage: there needs to be a criteria developed for those businesses who will not be able to afford the pay hike. The mom and pop's, the small business with less than 20 employees, ect. should be able to show the government that they could not cover such a payroll of $10.00-an-hour plus,... and be exempt from it.

Otherwise, the corporate world can start sharing the record profits, the tax breaks, the tax-supported grants, and reward the employees like they do the shareholders.

Any suggestion that raising the minimum wage is going to drive business away is foolery.

The real solution is the employers who wish to hoard all the profits can go ahead and pay the employees $2.00 an-hour like they want to, but in order to have rested and ready employees to do your bidding at that rate, there must be a discount for rent, power, water, groceries, and gasoline. Call it the SlaveWage Credit Card presented to every retailer, landlord, and utility company and the bearer of such a card is awarded a 90% discount on the price of living. There, Korporate Amerika can have all it's money to eat in hell, and the poor employee can survive to work another day.

It's a shame that no one wants to talk about the real problem: the price of rent, groceries, utilities, ect. all going up, and what is the real wage that can support these price increases.

The "job creators" have this sense of entitlement to cheap labor even if what they pay can't rent a $600.00-a-month apartment. Such Tea Potty economics forgets what Henry Ford discovered long ago, what other economists understand,.... a healthy business climate is a climate that has employees paid enough to spend money at other businesses. In Champaign County, one in four walk around at the poverty rate or less, third highest rate in the state out of 103 counties. That's the problem with the business climate around here, a dwindling consumer base.        

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 07, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Good comment.  Due to their greed, they killed the golden goose.  Their "Let them eat cake" will catch up with them though.  Eventually it will be three in four.  That is when anger will lead to rapid social change.  It is just a matter of time.  Of course, it could be all avoided by a united effort to re-establish the balance in capitalism.  Naw... that wouldn't happen.

Local Yocal wrote on February 08, 2014 at 11:02 am
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Sid is completely correct that usually, any office holder becomes a slave to whomever holds the campaign cash. Speaker At-It-Again has held reign by holding the purse strings to Democratic cash. It was quite funny to hear Naomi Jakobsson tout her refusal to go along with a Madigan initiative in her last campaign radio ads. She must of known then this term would be her last term.

Carol Ammons has vowed to serve the people first, and her interview on WEFT-90.1 FM this morning reaffirmed that she will not play ball with the "good 'ol boys" of Illinois State politics. That will cost her the lucrative media buys traditionally believed to be necessary to hold elected office.

Which leads to the obvious solution to this kind of consolidated power politics. Political campaign advertising should be regulated to what they really are: public service announcements. Therefore, no media outlet should not be allowed to charge money for airing a political radio ad, a television ad, or a newspaper ad, nor a bus placard, a billboard. Those commercial media outlets can then choose whether or not to air political ads, and/or delegate them to where public service announcements are normally scheduled on a commercial outlet: aired during the 1:00a.m.-5:00a.m. slots.

In the name of fair and open elections, free advertising would take money out of politics, stop the legislative bribing, and allow every sector of our population a chance to run for office.

The News-Gazette can now remove this dangerous comment,.....

ericbussell wrote on February 09, 2014 at 5:02 am

Free speech can be annoying, but creatively eliminating/reducing political speech by limiting someone's ability to purchase advertising seems shortsighted.  

Local Yocal wrote on February 10, 2014 at 5:02 am
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There would be no limit to having free speech. The decision to air or not air a political ad would be the decision of the commercial media outlet. Like other regulations, the FCC can require as part of the licensing permit that an outlet must "inform voters of the upcoming candidates in the next election," as a public service required of broadcasters. If political ads run in the early morning hours when everyone's asleep, that is the choice of the license holder. A station like FOX or WDWS would probably be glad to run Republican ads during primetime morning drive, but that would be their choice. The News-Gazette would probably put Rodney Davis ads on the front page, Erika Harold's deep in the classifieds. Point is, all elgible candidates running for office would be allowed to run their ads on every kind of media outlet for free.

What's been shortsighted is allowing this bribery game to infiltrate politics, and led to the belief that only the rich can run for office or friends of the rich. This friendliness then translates to favorable legislation for the campaign donors. Never was that the intent of the founding fathers nor should it be. This sort of quid pro quo with the media has led to the demise of investigative journalism into politics. Kacich will count pennies in the campaign coffers and his team of suck ups will then write glowing favorable reviews of those candidates who will be buying alot of WDWS/News-Gazette ads. It's a sickening relationship that has no public interest at heart.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on February 09, 2014 at 8:02 pm
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Advertising isn't speech.  Speech is speech.

bluegrass wrote on February 10, 2014 at 8:02 am

Hmmm.  Interesting point.  I wonder, is a television commercial that shows a person giving an actual speech, "speech," as you've defined it above?

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 10, 2014 at 11:02 am

or parts of another candidate's speech with snipets of the candidate's speech.  Good point, bluegrass.  Now, the roof will fall on me for agreeing with blue.......