Felicia N. Bullock
Democratic candidate for Illinois House (5th district)
Responses to our questions
Why do you think it has been so difficult for Springfield to get a balanced budget passed and signed?
I think the root of the issue is lack of unity in Springfield. Democrats and Republicans (namely the Governor) have different agendas and nobody was willing to bend.
Do you believe the state budget can be balanced going forward without new sources of revenue?
I believe the budget can be balanced if everyone in Springfield works together.
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.
I would consider a graduated income tax if the brackets for increasing started at 500k, as not to harm the middle class constituents of my district. In conversations with the community, some feel as though a graduated tax can punish middle class professionals for being successful. I do not want to implement yet another tax system that would drive people out of the state.
Please list five areas where you would cut spending.
Wages (not civil servants), pensions (new state workers), healthcare costs. These are only areas I would cut if absolutely necessary, I believe the budget can be balanced without cutting 5 areas.
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?
Those that have committed their lives to the state should absolutely receive the pensions they were promised. Legislatures must fight to protect pensions, ensuring that the budget allocates appropriate funding for pension costs.
Should all new state workers be moved into defined contribution plans?
Should all new state workers be moved into defined contribution plans? Yes, when you look at the state's current pension obligation, and the soaring cost to taxpayers; it makes more sense to transition all new state workers to a defined contribution plan or 401k. It will greatly relieve some of the cost burden from the state, while also still allowing state workers to save and live comfortably in retirement.
What should the governor do to control pension costs during union contract talks? What would you do?
He should try to find a middle ground. While he may think "right to work" will spark economic and job growth, it clearly is a policy that the state does not want. Right to Work talks should be tabled, and a bipartisan plan should be discussed to talk about how to best protect jobs, and also keep the state from hemorrhaging money into the pension system.
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 believe state taxes are the number one reason that people leave the state.
What should Illinois do — via tax policy, spending or other policy means — to keep residents from leaving?
We have to stop astronomical tax increases on everything. People are not only moving to neighboring states, but they're taking their business to those states as well. We need to increase incentives for supporting the businesses in our state instead of punishing people with more taxes.
What should Illinois do to promote job creation?
There should be more incentives for small businesses. Also, businesses should be required to hire within the community and the state. There are far too many residents of neighboring states commuting to jobs in Illinois.
Did you support the education funding reform bill that the governor signed in 2017?
Yes, the Education funding bill will help spread funds to more of the underserved school districts of the state. It will also give some parents the opportunity to choose what schools they want their child to attend. By increasing the availability of school choice, parents are able to decide what the best education route is for their children.
What, if anything, should the legislature do to help Chicago Public Schools?
I would fight for increased CPS funding and for an elected school board.
Do you support opportunity scholarships included in the funding reform bill? Or will you try, if elected, to eliminate that program?
As state previously the opportunity scholarship gives parents more say so and choice in what they believe is the best route for their kid's education.
Should Illinois do more to regulate campaign fundraising? If so, what?
Yes, when you look at the current gubernatorial race, I think you realize more than ever that campaign finance reform is needed. The race is on track to be one of the most expensive races in the history of the nation, and we haven't even gotten to the primary. When you allow candidates to spend ridiculous amounts of money; it is no longer about who the best candidate is, but who can spend the most money. That is a slippery slope to go down and doesn't represent the true spirit of democracy.
What help, if any, are you receiving from your party and its leaders, including staff help, advice, legal assistance, money and resources? Be specific.
Be specific. I am currently not being supported by the party.
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 absolutely support term limits. I believe that new and fresh ideas are always needed in the legislative process. It also holds our officials accountable when they have to run for their seat.
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?
Yes, I support changes to our redistricting process. We have to make sure that our redistricting process has the best interest of the constituents at the forefront. I would love to champion those efforts and lobby my colleagues for a constitutional change.
Tell us a little about your family.
I've been married for two years now to my amazing husband, Bart Bullock. We met in preschool and were reunited the summer before college. He is my best friend and biggest supporter. I also have amazing parents supporting me on this journey to become an elected official. I feel incredibly blessed to have a loving and hardworking support system of family and friends.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
I love to cook, especially making things from scratch, it's therapeutic for me.