Kevin B. Morrison
Democratic candidate for Cook County Board (15th District district)
Responses to our questions
In preparing future budgets, Cook County may face rising costs and static revenues. How should county government evolve? What specific finance strategy will you encourage for producing balanced budgets? Please be decisive.
County government should evolve to promote policies that can afford our financial obligations, while decreasing the deficit the county has grown over the past several decades. I would encourage that the county pushes a budget that eliminates waste, a budget that can afford that all vital services are adequately funded, and that the county bring in more revenue than what is spent. We must aim to spend less than we bring in if our county is ever to save itself from the fiscal calamity we face if we do not begin to pay off the $139 billion that is owed.
If faced in budget debates with cutting the county's payroll or raising taxes, which one will you choose, and why? Please be decisive.
It is no secret that the county is in a tough fiscal situation. If the decision were between placing county services at risk or raising taxes on middle class or working families, I would chose neither. New revenue is what is most important in dealing with our county's fiscal responsibilities, and that is why when elected I will propose a new corporate lease tax to bring in the much needed revenue. I was not a supporter of the Sweetened Beverage tax, because it was a regressive tax that disproportionally affected our community. We must push for a fairer tax system as a whole.
Do you favor or oppose privatization of county services and downsizing of the county's workforce?
I oppose the privatization of county services and the downsizing of the county's workforce. It has been shown that privatizing the workforce and allowing outside contractors actually has unattended consequences that do not serve their intended purpose. Often such a move will increase cost, lower efficiency, and is a detriment to employee morale.
The relative stability of the county health system has reduced the costs to taxpayers. How can the county now stabilize the finances of the public safety and court systems?
Public safety and court system costs can be stabilized if we take into account the many factors that contribute to their instability. I believe that unconscious bias trainings should be required in both of these areas. This will help diminish the impact and costs occurred by wrongful arrests and sentencing. Another important factor is economic development in high crime areas.
The business development of a Whole Foods in Englewood has attracted more businesses to sprout up in the area, more jobs, and less crime. This is an incredible way to lower the costs of public safety and court system.
Most importantly, improving the education provided by our public school system. I would gladly lobby the state legislature to improve the quality, instruction, and requirements offered at public schools.
Giving students opportunities to gain a meaningful education, with real world instruction, will help increase employment and lower the crime rate.
What is the role of the County Board in accelerating criminal defendants' time to trial and otherwise speeding up the flow of court cases? What if any changes do you propose for defendants' pre-trial release and electronic monitoring?
Both the Assistant State's Attorney's office and the Office of the Public Defender have had their budgets cut a tremendous amount. Ensuring that enough State's Attorneys and Public Defenders are available to deal with the amount of cases coming in is detrimental to the functioning of the county courts and the services they provide to our community. I believe that more resources must be allocated to our court system. I also believe that programs currently in place for pretrial release and electric monitoring are appropriate and should be maintained. We must do a better job however ensuring that individuals released will not cause harm to their communities. Release should be conditional, and based on their criminal histories, as well as the charges they now face.
Do you favor or oppose contracting with municipalities or other public bodies to take over services now provided by the county's highway department, the forest preserve police, and other county-run offices? Please be specific.
This would need to be taken on a case by case basis, and should be determined by the benefit or cost placed on the District and community. The body of county government concerned and the view of the affected community must be taken into consideration.
Do you believe unincorporated areas of Cook County are paying their share for services provided by the county? What if any changes do you propose?
I believe that unincorporated areas in the county pay less than homeowners located in municipalities for the same services they are provided. A study reported a shortfall of over 19 million dollars that was spent in unincorporated areas that came from taxes of incorporated residents. If my constituents called for a shift in unincorporated areas in my District, I would consider any reasonable changes.
What specific changes, if any, do you advocate for Cook County's property assessment system? Do you favor or oppose creation of an office of tax administration to combine functions now performed by several offices?
I would support any shift that allows for accurate property assessments to be sent to constituents. Far too much time and money is wasted in the attempt of receiving an accurate quote. I would also ensure that constituents of my district receive accurate information concerning freezes and exemptions that may be applicable to them.
For incumbents: During your current term, on what proposed ordinances have you been the primary sponsor? For challengers: What proposed ordinances would you introduce?
As there are no Enterprise Zones currently in the 15th District, I would propose an ordinance creating an Enterprise Zone in Hoffman Estates and Streamwood. Enterprise Zones allow for tax incentives to spur small business development and industry. This would allow burdens on business growth to be diminished, allowing more jobs and strengthening the economy of the 15th District.
Candidates for Cook County Board (15th District district)
- Kevin B. Morrison
- Ravi Raju (No survey)