Republican candidate for Illinois House (53rd 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 believe that it is difficult because politicians in Illinois have been pushing problems down the road for so many years. Too many of them lack the political will necessary to pass structural reforms to our major government programs. We don't have many politicians that will make the hard decisions and stand up to special interests. I've been a nurse for 17 years. I chose this path in life because I enjoy taking care of people. I like being hands on. I like helping patients. When I look at Springfield, I see policies that are hurting families instead of helping them. I'm running to help families and that means passing a balanced budget that doesn't mortgage our future or burden families with higher taxes.
Do you believe the state budget can be balanced going forward without new sources of revenue?
Yes, but it will require political leaders willing to rethink state government from the ground up. Taxpayers in Illinois are paying too much in taxes. That is why we've seen families fleeing for states like Wisconsin, Indiana, and Iowa where they can get a better quality of life at a lower cost. To me it seems that the question isn't can it be balanced, but how will we balance it. Increased taxes will only drive more families out and further exacerbate our financial situation resulting in less revenue in the long run. We cannot expect families to pay more. It is time that government works for the people in Illinois and not the other way around.
What new sources, if any, would you support? Please be specific.
I do not support new sources of revenue. We can not burden the taxpayers any more.
Do you support a constitutional amendment favoring a graduated income tax? Please explain.
No. A graduated income tax hike ends up hurting Middle income families like my own. Just look at Wisconsin where the second highest tax bracket of 6.27% starts at $22,400. That is higher than Illinois' flat rate, even after the largest tax hike in state history that was passed this summer by Democrats and Republicans. As we see in our neighboring states, a graduated tax opens the door for higher taxes which may initially impact only high earners but will eventually be expanded downward to force middle income and low income families to pay more. The politicians have proven they aren't interested in spending our money wisely, and they are already hammering our families with higher taxes. Our flat income taxes is one of the final protections we have from continued tax increases.
Please list five areas where you would cut spending.
Illinois has a spending problem. Years of over spending, over promising, and under funding have put Illinois in a precarious financial position. We will only be able to solve our problems with a multiyear approach and structural reforms to the major programs and areas where and how we spend money.
- The problem in Illinois is that everyone says they are a fiscal conservative, yet we are in the worst financial shape of any state in the nation. I don't believe we should take politicians at their word, that is why I support a Taxpayer Bill of Rights to limit spending growth to the rate of inflation plus population growth. It isn't enough to make one time cuts to programs or believe politicians' promises that they will reign in spending when they have proven they are unwilling to. I will be a forceful advocate for putting handcuffs on government to limit spending. Budgeting is about prioritization and limiting spending growth will force our elected officials to make decisions about what programs to fund, how to improve services, and how to better spend our money.
- Pensions: Illinois' pension system continues to eat up more and more of the state's budget. That means we are choosing to fund government employee pensions instead of core services or lower taxes. We may never have a balanced budget until we reform our pension systems. I support offering 401(k)s to new employees, offering current employees the option of enrolling in a 401(k) plan, and reforming COLAs as ways to try and reform our pension systems and reign in one of the major cost drivers in the budget.
- We need to decrease the units of government we have. Each unit has bureaucracy, HR, IT, and management. Some of these units are townships, water districts, park districts, and forest preserves.
- We also need to decrease the mandates on local governments and schools
- We also need to enact law to sunset any new spending.
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 underlying principle for our approach to pensions should be to create a system that is fair. We want a pension system that rewards state employees for their hard work, but mirrors what individuals in the private sector have. The Illinois Supreme Court has stated that we need to keep the promises made to state workers. However, we need to look at pension retirement plans moving forward. I support reforms that move government employees to a 401(k) style retirement plan for future work. I will work with legislators to rein in unfair pension benefits using whatever tools we can: reducing COLAs, increasing retirement ages, changing benefits for new employees and exploring altering benefits for work not yet completed.
Should all new state workers be moved into defined contribution plans?
Yes, I believe we need to move to a 401k style program. This is critical to taking politicians out of the retirement planning business, a business they have demonstrated failure in being involved in and protecting the livelihoods and homes of families across the state. Additionally, a defined contribution plan will empower state employees to control their own money and allow the flexibility to invest and plan as they see fit.
What should the governor do to control pension costs during union contract talks? What would you do?
The Governor needs to do a lot. First order of business would be to approach negotiations with a willingness to engage, build rapport and establish a partnership based on trust and respect. Then, the Governor must concentrate on four major issues in order to control the costs of pensions while in negotiations. Stop cost of living adjustments from exploding pension costs. Fight for fair and responsible limits on retirement age and payouts. Begin transitioning to 401k's for all new governmental employees. Same as I suggested to the Governor above.
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?
High tax burden on taxpayers. We have the highest property taxes in the nation and the government keeps increasing taxes on middle income families. A 2016 poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois found that 47% of people wanted to leave Illinois and taxes was the number one reason (27%) they gave for wanting to leave.
What should Illinois do — via tax policy, spending or other policy means — to keep residents from leaving?
We need to enact a 1% flat property tax that will make it that taxpayers pay 1% on what the property is worth and at the same time enact TABOR laws to put handcuffs on politicians so that they have to spend within their means just like most households do.
What should Illinois do to promote job creation?
Illinois is losing businesses and important job opportunities for families to our neighboring states, many of which have enacted right-to-work laws. Besides making our state more competitive, Illinois workers deserve the freedom to decide whether union representation is right for them. Additionally, right-to-work laws are often cited by companies as a factor they consider when determining new states to build their business. Besides right-to-work, we need to reduce regulations and cut the red tape that handcuffs businesses and makes it harder and more costly to set up shop Illinois. In order to make Illinois more competitive and business-friendly, we need to lower workers compensation costs and identify common-sense regulatory reforms to make it easier for businesses and entrepreneurs to grow and thrive.
Did you support the education funding reform bill that the governor signed in 2017?
There are parts of the education funding reform bill that I support like the inclusion of a tax credit scholarship program for low income students. At the same time, I was not happy with the inclusion of what has been deemed a Chicago Bailout and forcing suburban schools to continue to transfer money to Chicago while our property taxes skyrocket to fund our own schools.
What, if anything, should the legislature do to help Chicago Public Schools?
As a State Representative I will be concerned with helping the children in schools across Illinois, including in the Chicago Public Schools. The state is Constitutionally required to be the primary funder of education, a requirement it has failed to live up to. Forcing the state to fulfill its constitutional duty will provide immediate property tax relief for communities like mine while ensuring that schools in communities like Chicago, where local elected officials have destroyed the home values and decimated the businesses of their neighborhoods, are adequately funding. The best solution is to rethink how we fund and provide K-12 education and ensure that our schools are accountable to parents and students.
Do you support opportunity scholarships included in the funding reform bill? Or will you try, if elected, to eliminate that program?
Yes I support opportunity scholarships. I have a sister-in-law in Ohio, she is a single mother. She is able to send her three children to a better school due to scholarships. Families should be able to make these decisions. I see schools that are failing too many of our children in districts across the state and for generation after generation without any accountability. Families should be able to rescue their children from schools where they don't have a shot a good education and send them to a school of their choice.
Should Illinois do more to regulate campaign fundraising? If so, what?
No, the politicians have set up a system where by political leaders are able to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money while regular folks running for office have caps.
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 receiving help from the Republican 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?
Yes Enacting term limits would produce a genuine environment for change and new ideas in government. Term limits would help eliminate the power of special interests and its money. The power of entrenched lethargic incumbency becomes immediately impotent. Term limits would produce a citizen legislator focused on service as opposed to those more interested in establishing a self-indulgence career on the public's dime.
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 enthusiastically support a complete overhaul to the redistricting process as it exists today. I believe this issue is one of most unknown and problematic obstacles of our state. The State of Illinois needs a fair, transparent and just process for its citizens to be represented. I believe we are at a crossroads as a state and as a people. We must do away with electoral representation dependent on the party in charge less we always run the risk of disenfranchising those who do not favor their ideological whims. I support a full overhaul of the current process of redrawing districts based on the party in charge.
I would advocate for computerized redistricting. Race, color, creed, political affiliation and geographic considerations would not be part of the formula. Population density and common sense rectangular, squared areas would be my chief criteria. We are all Illinoisans. We must transcend all that separate us and know we all have more in common than our current leadership and their nonsensical lines would have us believe. And, most importantly, the politicians are kicked out of the process. Yes, with enthusiasm for all the reasons listed above.
Tell us a little about your family.
I have been married to my husband Greg for 16 years. I have 3 children. Joey is 14 years old and is a freshman at Prospect High School. Tommy is 13 years old and is in eighth grade at Lincoln Middle School. Bethany is 11 years old and is in sixth grade at Lincoln Middle School. We have lived in Mt Prospect for 12 years.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
This is my first time running for public office.
Candidates for Illinois House (53rd district)
- Eddie Corrigan (No survey)
- Katie Miller