Editor's note: The News-Gazette asked candidates to answer questions regarding themselves and the office they seek.
1508 Trails Drive
Urbana, IL 61802
Date of birth: 11/3/53
Education: B.S., psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1975
MSW, mental health specialty, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981
1. What should the Legislature do to resolve the enormous pension 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 do not believe that the state of Illinois can reduce benefits. I do believe a payment "ramp" is not feasible. The state needs to negotiate payments to the pension funds in order to guarantee retirees their pension. At present the pension funds are not in "trouble." They do have sufficient funds to make payments. Local government is not in a position financially to make payments the state agreed to make.
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?
I believe it should be continued. The state needs to change the income tax structure from a flat rate tax. With an income tax that is graduated, and the increased tax, the state will have more money to pay off bills and pension payments.
3. What more can be done to draw down the enormous backlog of bills (aside from pension obligations) that must be paid?
The needs to be a prioritization of payment. There needs to be a review of bills that examines what is essential to the citizens of Illinois.
4. Are more Medicaid spending cuts needed than those enacted in the last two years?
5. What ares of state government need to endure more cuts than they have thus far?
I cannot pinpoint where waste is located. I do believe that consultation with the Budget and Tax Accountability group in Chicago is essential to getting a handle on where cuts need to be made. Sitting down with AFSCME and other organizations is essential to making constructive cuts.
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?
Absolutely! The Illinois Legislature must direct where PCBs can be disposed of in Illinois. To put those PCBs above the Mahomet aquifer is a major mistake.
7. As a cost-saving measure, does the Legislature need to act to reduce the number of school districts in the state?
This is an excellent idea. It is a hard plan as many schools and communities are resistant to consolidation. Again a dialogue is necessary to complete this cost-saving task.
8. Do you think Illinois state government is inherently corrupt? If so, what can be done?
No, it is not inherently corrupt. It does promote corruption because there needs to be reforms in campaign funding. It is so easy for big campaign contributors to "buy" politicians. I have refused to accept contributions from special interest groups.
9. Are there reforms, changes needed in Illinois' tax structure that should be enacted to bring in more revenue?
Illinois needs to change from a flat rate income tax to a graduated 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 some way?
Hydraulic "fracking" is a polluter. Illinois needs to thoroughly examine the process and determine the environmental impact. The state must make sure the process is not a detriment to our environment.
11. What can the Legislature do to limit tuition increases at public universities, and should the Legislature act to limit tuition increases?
The Legislature has failed to adequately fund public institutions. Tuition increases should be watched and monitored to determine when they are absolutely necessary. Public education must be affordable for Illinois citizens.
12. Do you favor expanded gambling in Illinois, including casinos in Chicago and Danville? How about slot machines at racetracks?
Chicago and Danville would benefit from casinos. Chicago needs it to compete with other cities for conventions and tourists. Danville can benefit. Danville needs a viable plan to make it a "destination" for tourists. Slot machines at racetracks is acceptable.
13. What can be done to lower workers compensation costs in Illinois?
Claims should be closely examined. Employers should work with their employees by promoting safe working conditions.
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 would support concealed-carry if there were safeguards. Permits would be required after citizens took coursework, passed an exam and paid fees.