Master's Degree, Fuqua School of Business - Business Administration, Duke University
Bachelor's Degree, Economics Major, Duke University
Investment Specialist, SteelRiver Infrastructure Partners
See recent video below of David McSweeney talking about the issues.
On the Record
Do you support a plan to shift responsibility for teacher pensions from the state to local school districts? What is your plan for pension reform?
The state’s pension obligations should not be shifted to suburban school districts. Property taxes are already too high. The State Legislature created the problems and needs to address it by adopting a comprehensive pension reform proposal. The pension funding gap is the result of legislators and politicians over promising and over committing to special interests. When they initially could not meet the obligations to the funding of the pension system they borrowed more money and put off the day of reckoning. These irresponsible acts have consequences and all parties will have to participate in order to get our fiscal house in order. Below is a brief overview of steps needed in this state for pension reform: (1) Eliminate pensions for state legislators; and (2) For existing employees, reduce pension cost-of-living adjustments. Also, as Option 1, protect the existing defined benefit pension benefits earned to date and going forward convert employees into 401(k) plans similar to those offered in the private sector. Going forward, some employees should also have the option of joining the Social Security system and receiving a smaller 401(k) matching payment from the State than offered under Option 1. In order to address the unfunded retiree health care obligations, future benefits need to be reduced. The eligibility age for retiree health care benefits should be increased.
Should part-time state legislators, state representatives and senators, receive pensions? Explain.
Part-time legislators should not receive pensions. Lawmakers need to lead by example as they solve Illinois’ financial crisis. We should eliminate legislative pensions and cut Legislators’ salaries by 10 percent.
What do you think about the Medicaid reform package passed by the General Assembly in May?
I oppose the tax increases included in the Medicaid bill. I believe that most of the spending reductions were justified. However, we have to do more to eliminate waste and fraud in the system. It has been estimated that approximately 10.5 percent of Medicaid expenditures are spent improperly, including for ineligible recipients. I also favor requiring that additional Medicaid recipients are moved to HMO programs.
Should the General Assembly repeal the massive income tax increase approved in January 2011? Explain.
I was strongly opposed to the income tax increase and I support its immediate repeal. The tax increases have hurt small businesses that are organized as limited partnerships and limited liability corporations. The state must focus on cutting spending. I also support repealing the corporate tax increases so that Illinois is a more attractive state for businesses.
What kinds of gambling expansion or contraction do you support?
I oppose a large-scale expansion of gambling in Illinois. However, I do favor allowing slots at racetracks.
Outside of jobs and taxes, what are the one or two top issues in your district, and what will you do in Springfield to address those issues?
State spending must be cut and the public pension system must be reformed. The state has approximately $9 billion of unpaid bills and an $83 billion unfunded pension liability. I also support freezing property tax levies when home values decline.
Grade Gov. Pat Quinn’s job performance. What has he done well. Where has he failed?
Respectfully, I think that Governor Quinn has done a poor job. He has failed to provide the leadership necessary to address the terrible fiscal situation in Illinois. Illinois’ citizens are looking for bold leadership that will focus on the seriousness of the situation. Instead, the Governor has responded to the crisis by raising taxes and engaging in partisan politics. Governor Quinn continues to do a good job of focusing on the needs of veterans.
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Kathleen Bergan Schmidt