Democratic candidate for Illinois House (17th district)
Responses to our questions
Why do you think it has been so difficult for Springfield to get a balanced budget passed and signed?
We have spent the past several years with Madigan and Rauner at each others necks unable to move forward and find agreeable ways to support our communities. Legislators feel pressure to maintain their partisan allegiances to them and not work across the aisle for the common good. A balanced budget requires creative revenue generation and program scrutiny that does not play well politically.
Do you believe the state budget can be balanced going forward without new sources of revenue?
No, we need more revenue. We should tax and regulate marijuana and find other creative ways to generate revenue.
What new sources, if any, would you support? Please be specific.
Taxing recreational Marijuana, moving to a progressive tax with more revenue, and removing tax loopholes for large corporations. While removing large corporate tax loopholes we should increase tax credits and opportunities for small business to encourage job growth and main street rejuvenation.
Do you support a constitutional amendment favoring a graduated income tax? Please explain.
Yes, I support progressive taxes to raise the revenue our state so desperately needs from those who can afford to contribute more.
Please list five areas where you would cut spending.
Illinois is not a big spending state. We actually spend less on Medicaid and state employees than most other states. Our real issue is the pension crisis. A crisis that was created by our state not funding their portion into the pension pool. This serious financial crisis is burdening our state. The only way out of it is additional revenue. We can not balance the budget the backs of everyday people and the hard working people of Illinois. We have a pension crisis to handle and not an overspending issue to contend.
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 pension crisis is our main budget and financial problem in Illinois. The workers have paid their portion into the pensions and our state grossly erred and neglected to pay their portion. We cannot balance the budget on the backs of our hardest working people and slash their earnings and pensions to fix our issues. We need to negotiate a direction that allows for our workers to confidently afford their lives and futures. Union leaders need to be at the table during these crucial negotiations, and we must find common ground that allows our state to rise out of debt while meeting the needs of our workers.
Should all new state workers be moved into defined contribution plans?
The current defined benefit plans are lacking funds due to the state's gross error in not funding the accounts. The current defined benefit crisis - the pension crisis - is the fault of our state and not the workers. Defined contribution plans most often do not provide the same quality and quantity of retirement benefits. For new employees I support moving to a hybrid of defined benefit and defined contribution plan with quality contributions coming from the state and not exclusively the worker. In this new employee hybrid option the employee would be required to enroll and contribute to both the defined benefit and defined contribution plans allowing for a base of funds to be created along with the state contributions making the account viable. We can not balance the budget on the backs of our hardest working citizens.
What should the governor do to control pension costs during union contract talks? What would you do?
The governor needs to work directly with the unions to find creative ways to raise revenue and infuse it into our financial problem - the pension crisis. I support gaining additional revenue by moving to progressive taxes and taxing marijuana. I am counting on our current and future governors to take care of the working class and ensure our state has a viable way to move forward and out of the pension crisis.
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?
We are not small business friendly. We are not incentivizing our small business owners and allowing them the opportunity to create good paying jobs. We continue to create tax loopholes for large corporations but never do we create tax credits or incentives for small businesses to thrive and create employment. Once we begin to treat small business like they matter there will be more job opportunities allowing for families and businesses to thrive.
What should Illinois do — via tax policy, spending or other policy means — to keep residents from leaving?
Our state is in a crisis because of the pension fund. We can not roll back on taxes when we need more revenue. Ask your neighbors what they are willing to give up to lower their taxes. The answer is always nothing. People want public transportation, public schools, and services for their children, the elderly, and more. What we need are creative ways to gain more revenue like taxing marijuana. Once we tax and regulate marijuana we can create a new stream of revenue to support our state.
What should Illinois do to promote job creation?
We need to incentivise small businesses by creating tax credits for them that are connected to job creation. Good paying jobs that are needed in our community will come directly from supporting small businesses. When we support small business we support community and family.
Did you support the education funding reform bill that the governor signed in 2017?
The final variation of SB1 included the best formula for Chicago Public Schools which I support. It also included an unnecessary private school voucher that I do not support. We can not combine our public school funding with private school credits. I do not support the voucher system and look forward to seeing it removed in future legislation.
What, if anything, should the legislature do to help Chicago Public Schools?
Chicago Public Schools along with downstate schools are underfunded. We do not have equity in our public education system, and we need to work towards equity for all our children. Our schools are mostly funded by property taxes and the disproportionate amount of money going into schools causes drastic opportunity differences for our children. We have to change the formula away from the majority of funds coming from property taxes.
Do you support opportunity scholarships included in the funding reform bill? Or will you try, if elected, to eliminate that program?
I do not support private school vouchers. We need to eliminate this program.
Should Illinois do more to regulate campaign fundraising? If so, what?
We are seeing millions of dollars that can be used in our communities spent on campaigns. We have to create campaign limits to even the playing field for candidates but more so to stop wasting resources that can be spent directly in our community. I do not support limiting where money comes from but instead the volume of which is allowed in races.
What help, if any, are you receiving from your party and its leaders, including staff help, advice, legal assistance, money and resources? Be specific.
I am not the Machine supported candidate. I do not have any of those resources. I have the backing of our community and have worked hard for every dollar we have raised. I am proud of the close to $90k we have raised from over 500 donors. I am a small business owner. My campaign is like any other small business and it needs resources to thrive. I am employing 7 people currently and am working hard to pay their wages, afford mailers, materials, etc. The 17th District needs an independent voice and I am excited to be that voice.
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 support leadership term limits and look forward to seeing some fresh faces in Springfield in 2019. Illinois needs new leadership. I will support any and all legislation to limit leadership terms.
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?
The current redistricting process has allowed for minorities to serve. I support redistricting that creates opportunity for minorities. Our current process has also allowed long time leadership to systematically control. We have to change our process.
Tell us a little about your family.
I am married to an amazing guy, Roger Cady, that is a web developer, video gamer, and foodie. We have 4 kiddos together - Annaliese, Miriam, Owen and Jack. Our kids are our driving force. We work hard and play hard in the name of their future. Roger and I appreciate sports, outdoors, and great food. Our kids are big fans of Harry Potter, gymnastics, pasta and animals.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
I am a vegetarian that loves the outdoors. I love kayaking, canoeing, and camping. One of the best parts about being a parent is teaching my kids about the environment and being outdoors with them. The kids and I love cicada carcasses.