Aaron M. Ortiz
Democratic candidate for Illinois House (1st district)
Responses to our questions
Why do you think it has been so difficult for Springfield to get a balanced budget passed and signed?
Fundamentally, there was not a desire by the Governor to negotiate and compromise on revenue and expenses. The Governor's insistence on his Turn-around plan held the budget hostage so there could be no discussion on how to fund the actual budget.
Do you believe the state budget can be balanced going forward without new sources of revenue?
No. The state's structural deficit means that we will need new revenue to fund current programs.
What new sources, if any, would you support? Please be specific.
I would support progressive Taxes that raises money from the growing areas of the economy. For example, our sales tax production of goods but leave mostly untouched business and financial services. I would support a graduated, progressive income tax, a tax on financial services (Financial TransactionTax), and expansion of the state sales taxes to apply to business and financial services, and a tax on recreational marijuana.
Do you support a constitutional amendment favoring a graduated income tax? Please explain.
Yes. The income tax should reflect citizen's ability to pay. A graduated income tax is the fairest, least-regressive way to impose a tax.
Please list five areas where you would cut spending.
At this point its impossible to determine what should be cut or can be cut. I would support performance audits of programs and departments throughout the state by the Auditor General so we can determine proper funding levels for all programs.
Since the Illinois Supreme Court's 2015 decision tossing bipartisan pension reform, what can and should the legislature do to control pension costs, if anything?
The state pension system is an important component in attracting and keeping talented people We need to start properly funding the pension system by making the required pension payments. One way to control pension costs is to expand the application of the ACA in Illinois with a public option which will control health care costs under the pension.
Should all new state workers be moved into defined contribution plans?
What should the governor do to control pension costs during union contract talks? What would you do?
The Governor could sit down with the union and discuss health care and work rule changes in the context of job security provisions, ending outsourcing, and other expanding service delivery changes. The Governor could also commit to reducing middle-level management positions that do not have supervisory responsibilities.
Illinois lost more residents than any other state in 2016 and the trend appears to be holding for 2017. What is the No. 1 reason, in your opinion, for the exodus?
While the slow increase in jobs has played a significant role, high energy, housing and transportation costs — especially outside of NE Illinois has probably played a major role.
What should Illinois do — via tax policy, spending or other policy means — to keep residents from leaving?
Residents will stay if the quality of life improves. The state should work to improve transportation throughout the state, make housing and energy cost more affordable and support the arts.
What should Illinois do to promote job creation?
While there has been growth in some areas and the stock market, too many people are either under-employed or employed in jobs with no future, no benefits or job security. Youth unemployment, especially in low-income communities, rural communities and communities of color is too high. Black youth (aged 16-24) had over 3 times the average unemployment rate for white youth in July 2017. Latino youth unemployment was 25% higher than white youth. The percentage of the workforce unemployed, temporarily employed or involuntarily in part-time employment is still 8%. The median hourly wage is still only $14 per hour.
Did you support the education funding reform bill that the governor signed in 2017?
Yes, but it was not sufficient to meet the true needs across the state let alone Chicago.
What, if anything, should the legislature do to help Chicago Public Schools?
We need to increase our commitment to education and training for all people so that young people can get more skilled jobs and older people can be trained in new fields. We need to embrace alternative technologies for energy production, develop new electronic and biological technologies and invest in our infrastructure as other countries are doing.
Do you support opportunity scholarships included in the funding reform bill? Or will you try, if elected, to eliminate that program?
No. The government should not directly or indirectly provide financial support private, charter or religious schools. If elected, I will vote to eliminate that program.
Should Illinois do more to regulate campaign fundraising? If so, what?
Illinois should begin to provide some level of public financing for campaigns as has been proposed in Chicago and State legislation.
What help, if any, are you receiving from your party and its leaders, including staff help, advice, legal assistance, money and resources? Be specific.
If you are an incumbent, give an example of a time you worked across the aisle on an important issue.
If you are an incumbent, give at least one example of a time you did not vote with your party on a significant issue.
Do you support term limits? If so, will you commit to sponsoring legislation and/or lobbying your colleagues on behalf of a constitutional change?
I do not support term limits as it unfairly restricts development of knowledge and experience in legislators and shifts power to the executive branch.
Do you support changes to the redistricting process? If so, will you commit to sponsoring legislation and/or lobbying your colleagues on behalf of a constitutional change?
I would support changes to the redistricting.
Tell us a little about your family.
My parent came to the US from the state of Durango in Mexico. My father is a forklift driver. My mom is a lunch lady in the Chicago Public Schools. My sister, brother and I were born in Chicago and I am the oldest sibling. A few of my aunts and uncles came to the US before my parents. There are many Ortiz's on the southwest side you could say.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
In college (U of I Champaign-Urbana) I cut hair in the dorms to make money to pay for my dorm room.
Candidates for Illinois House (1st district)
- Daniel J. Burke (No survey)
- Aaron M. Ortiz