Bachelor's Degree, Bachelor of Arts, Northwestern University
Master's Degree, Masters of Arts, Counseling Psychology, Northwestern University
Widowed, Mark Beaubien
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?
It is imperative that the state immediately address the funding crisis. Without a long-term solution, the state will only fall deeper into debt and disarray. Meaningful pension reform is not just about fixing the mistakes of the past; equally important are the reforms that will lay the foundation for a stable system for the future. Illinois took some positive steps in this direction with the reforms passed in 2010, but we still have a ways to go. The state needs to be responsible and pay required pension payments in full and on time. We cannot use the pension funds as a slush fund and “borrow” from it whenever legislators want to spend money elsewhere. Politicians have got to stop thinking about their own political consequences or personal gain, and start making decisions based the long-term consequences. Regardless of the final proposal, all of the stakeholders need to have a seat at the table and a voice in the process because all parties involved will need to make some concessions. I do not think shifting pension costs on to school districts is a realistic solution. Even without these added costs, property taxes are skyrocketing, making it more difficult for families already struggling to get by. We cannot simply turn to homeowners whenever government fails to balance its budgets.
Should part-time state legislators, state representatives and senators, receive pensions? Explain.
I believe serving as a state legislator is about public service, not about enriching oneself. Too many of our elected officials in Springfield have served for the wrong reasons. We currently have two governors in jail and one former state representative facing trial. Lobbyists have spent over one million dollars in the last seven years on meals, drinks and gift for legislators they are trying to influence. We need to put an end to the culture of the past that has led Illinois down the path to fiscal crisis. I do not believe state legislators should receive pensions. I believe those who want to serve as State Representative should do so because they are called to public service and want to make a difference for their community. If I am elected, I will donate my salary to charity and will not take a pension.
What do you think about the Medicaid reform package passed by the General Assembly in May?
I think more can be done to address the problems within the Medicaid system. Fraudulent abuse of the system wastes hundreds of millions of dollars each year as people illegally take benefits they are not entitled to. I support tough new verification standards so those who don’t qualify for benefits are kicked out of Medicaid.
Should the General Assembly repeal the massive income tax increase approved in January 2011? Explain.
Yes, Illinois should repeal the income tax increase approved in 2011. As I am knocking on doors throughout the 52nd District the one issue that comes up most often is Illinois’ recent increases to both the personal and corporate tax rate. At the same time as taxes are being raised, homeowners are being hit by increasing property taxes even though their home’s value is in decline. People feel as though government only needs them to throw their hard earned dollars down the black hole that is government spending. I would support the repeal of the tax increase, but it must be accompanied by further budgets cuts to achieve a sustainable balanced budget. If a repeal vote fails, then we must keep our promise to the voters of Illinois and let the tax expire. The tax increase should not be extended.
What kinds of gambling expansion or contraction do you support?
I am open to gaming expansion as a means of capturing additional revenue. Right now, casinos just across our borders in Wisconsin and Indiana have parking lots full of cars with Illinois license plates. This is especially true in my district where Wisconsin is only a short drive away. Every time an Illinoisan crosses the border to a neighboring state we are exporting revenue that we could be going to Illinois. Failure to tap into the tourism and convention industry for gaming revenue is a huge missed opportunity. I also support slots at racetracks. This would be an important factor in job creation in the district.
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?
The state has to fundamentally change the way we approach spending and budgeting, starting with spending only the money state brings in and nothing more. In order to pay bills on time, we cannot depend on borrowing or IOUs to operate state government. We need to approach state budgeting with the same mindset that families use to budget and consider the long-term costs and consequences of our decisions. We must to analyze the budget line-by-line to eliminate all wasteful or unnecessary spending. Legislators need to do away with their own pay raises and get rid of perks for themselves and state employees, such as travel reimbursements, per diems, and cars and cell phones paid for by taxpayers. While this alone won’t erase the billions of dollars of mounting debt, it will show that lawmakers are willing to sacrifice as well. It will hopefully also create a mindset with legislators that will carry over into the budgeting process; we need to spend money only on those programs that are needed to help the public. We also must identify services, programs, and agencies that overlap, consolidating when possible and financially sensible. Making government more efficient benefits those accessing state services and the taxpayers who foot the bill.
Grade Gov. Pat Quinn’s job performance. What has he done well. Where has he failed?
I believe Springfield has failed Illinois for years. Decades of fiscal mismanagement is one of the reasons we are in a fiscal crisis. Instead of paying our annual pension payment, Springfield would spend the money on other projects, allowing our unfunded pension liability to grow year after year. Today, we are saddled with billions of dollars in unfunded pension liability leading to an unstable economic future that is driving many businesses to leave Illinois. Until we end the practices of the past and the partisan gridlock that plagues Springfield we will not be able to solve any of the problems facing Illinois. Only when Gov. Quinn and the four legislative leaders sit down to solve the problems of Illinois, instead of pointing fingers and laying blame at each other, will anyone be able to positively rate any of our officials in Springfield. Until then I would give Gov. Quinn and our elected officials an incomplete.
Other Local Races
Anna May Miller