Amy L. Grant
Republican candidate for Illinois House (42nd district)
Responses to our questions
Why do you think it has been so difficult for Springfield to get a balanced budget passed and signed?
Years under Governors Blaogojovich and Quinn the state of Illinois has been mishandled in it fiscal house. For decades the State House of Illinois has been controlled by leadership that is lacking in integrity and truthfulness. Governor Rauner campaigned on wasteful spending, ingrained political power, property tax relief, and job creation; he wanted to turn the state around. After two years without a state budget and decades of unbalanced budgets, the House Speaker and his Democrat majority are not willing to help this State succeed instead they give us a permanent 32% income tax increase. Bipartisan leaders in both chambers worked hard on a "Grand Bargain" which would balance the budget with meaningful reforms. This did not come to pass because Speaker Madigan refused to be reasonable and engage in negotiations.
Do you believe the state budget can be balanced going forward without new sources of revenue?
I think we owe it to the people of Illinois to try after raising their taxes last year. Before even considering any new sources of revenue, an extensive, thorough and honest accounting of how revenue is spent needs to take place. The previous tax increases alone puts significant new revenue into the state's receivables I realize we are backlogged and cannot pay our bills and our pension funds are underfunded but this state has proven that in the past two decades, it is will spend more that whatever amount of money it take in. The immediate solution is not to feed a monster that refuses to discipline itself. Our residents are overburdened.
What new sources, if any, would you support? Please be specific.
Candidate did not respond
Do you support a constitutional amendment favoring a graduated income tax? Please explain.
No. The sate is experiencing out migration now. A graduated income tax would only add to the negative perception that Illinois is not the best place to live, work or build a business. The people who would be subject to higher graduated taxes are the same people who build, innovate and employ people and reinvest in their businesses. This area does not need anymore disincentive to prosper in Illinois.
Please list five areas where you would cut spending.
Illinois struggles with high unemployment, failed fiscal polices and out of control spending. The Democrat Majority approved an un balanced unbalanced budget for fiscal year 2018. We cannot spend more than what we have and I will work to cut waste and fraud in our Medicaid system and demand accountability and transparency from our state leaders. It is imperative that we slow the growth of Medicaid it takes up 1/3 of our states general revenue funds. A managed care system for recipients should be carefully evaluated to reduce the costs. Moving Medicaid recipients into manage care could reduce costs.
Pension reform would also reduce our unfunded liability by billions of dollars. A government program that wants to increase spending should look within their department first to see if there maybe areas that can be cut in order to make way for a new program. (Pay-as-you-go). Consolidation is also another way to cut back on spending. I have seen this happen numerous times at Dupage County. Consolidating our youth home with our neighboring Kane County saved us millios of dollars. It needs to seriously be looked at in our States Capital. For example the State should look into combining the many Education related boards and commissions that are in place now. The State Board of Education, the Board of Higher Education, the Community College Board and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission could be combined into a new Department of Education.
Reducing cost of administrators and managers. Head count is a very costly item in a budget. Eliminating the Lieutenant Governors office would be a $2 million dollar savings and combining the Offices of the State Comptroller and Treasurer would save another $12 million. Options to think about.
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 Illinois Supreme Court tossed aside SB1 a bipartisan pension reform law, making it difficult to control pension cost. Giving employees choices that would not upset the benefits they already earned is the roadway I would like to follow. Tier 2 (reduced benefit levels for new employees) and Tier 3 (hybrid 401k system) a consideration model allowing employees to keep current benefits but not include future raise in their pensions would help reduce liabilities.
Should all new state workers be moved into defined contribution plans?
I support having all new state employees enter into a defined contribution type plan. People who are newly hired should be allowed to contribute to a 401 k type plan with the state employer matching it.
What should the governor do to control pension costs during union contract talks? What would you do?
The Governor should call for a wage freeze for the duration of any new state contract with unionized employees. Illinois taxpayers cannot afford to pay pension on increased salaries, we have to live within our means. The Governor is there to protect the interests of the people of Illinois. The Union Leaders are there to enhance the contract for their members. Strong negotiators who have an interest in good policy and sustainable financial outcomes should be an important part of these discussions.
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?
I love Illinois and my neighbors and the people in the 42nd district do also, this State has many good attributes that cannot be dismissed. But many people see Illinois on the decline; expensive live in, shrinking opportunities and hostile to retire in.
What should Illinois do — via tax policy, spending or other policy means — to keep residents from leaving?
We need to be able demonstrate that tax dollars are spent properly and efficiently. Property taxes should not continue to increase when property values have declined or have remained the same for years. I support a four year to a permanent Property Tax freeze as a first step to relief the burden on our families and seniors.
What should Illinois do to promote job creation?
Illinois needs to improve its business climate. The General Assembly needs to pass pro-growth, pro job legislation such as workers compensation reform and targeted tax credits for job creation. We have antiquated labor polices and I believe like Governor Rauner when he talked about his Turnaround Agenda that we should become a Right to Work State. Multi-national and other large corporations have made it clear that they will not set down their business in this state with our labor policy as it is. Democrats and their strong labor union backers have tenacious blocked the ability for our State to become a Right to Work State.
Did you support the education funding reform bill that the governor signed in 2017?
I wasn't in the Legislature when it was passed and signed, but I do support it. It gives us something to continue to work on and improve. It's not the perfect solution, but it offers a coherent policy to continue to improve upon.
What, if anything, should the legislature do to help Chicago Public Schools?
The CPS is a difficult situation. I have been a teacher in my life experience and I sympathize a great del with students, parent, teachers, and even principals in this system that has largely failed in it's mission to prepare school children for the society they will enter. We need to look at every opportunity we can to still give parents an opportunity and strong choices to send their children into a safe and effective environment. I want the system to succeed.
Do you support opportunity scholarships included in the funding reform bill? Or will you try, if elected, to eliminate that program?
Yes, I would have supported this bill. This bill gives students and families an opportunity to have a choice of schools no matter what zip code they live in. It attracted $36 million in pledges in one day and that was the first day the State began accepting applications. This bill shows that Illinois support their school children and their families.
Should Illinois do more to regulate campaign fundraising? If so, what?
SB 1466 regulated the influence of all parties interested in campaign finance except for legislative leaders and political parties. This legislation was more of an incumbent protection tool for Speaker Madigan, who serves both as the leader of the House Democratic Caucus and as the Chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois. This kind of Campaign fundraising should be regulated. Voters should know where money is coming from and what interests are supporting which candidates. I'd be a lot more interested in ensuring that the finances are transparent.
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 and have been a GOP Committeewomen in Milton Township for many years. I have many strong friends and relationships there and some wonderful colleagues in the organization supporting me. Within the township are a number of very experience people who have offered advice and volunteered to help me distribute my material, acquire signatures, etc. The House Republican Organization did assist me in filing my petitions, offered encouragement and acted as a good reference for me as I've been raising funds.
If you are an incumbent, give an example of a time you worked across the aisle on an important issue.
I am not an incumbent
If you are an incumbent, give at least one example of a time you did not vote with your party on a significant issue.
I am not an incumbent
Do you support term limits? If so, will you commit to sponsoring legislation and/or lobbying your colleagues on behalf of a constitutional change?
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?
Tell us a little about your family.
I am married for 33 years to my husband Jim. We have two adult children. Our daughter lives in the Chicago area and our son lives in Washington DC. I have an adorable dog by the name of Lucky; he is a beautiful Cavalier King Charles.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
At Queen of the World Grade School in St. Mary's Pennsylvania, I earned the title of 4th Grade Champion Jump Roper out nearly 45 girls. If we got the same group together again, I believe I'd still win.