Maurice A. West II
Democratic candidate for Illinois House (67th 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 a governor who is not interested in working with both Republicans AND Democrats for the sake of the Illinois residents. The budget is the one thing that I feel must be a TOP priority to be voted upon each time it comes to the floor - no matter what party line you hold. I understand that there are technicalities that one could say was the reason that the budget wasn't passed for YEARS. But at the end of the day, it comes to EGOS in our government. I will not be afraid to speak with, and even listen to Republicans if it means that we pass a budget that benefits all Illinois residents. We need more collaboration, more bi-partisanship.
Do you believe the state budget can be balanced going forward without new sources of revenue?
To me, new sources of revenue comes out of Illinois residents' pockets. I feel that we can balance a budget more effectively if we had a progressive tax plan.
What new sources, if any, would you support? Please be specific.
I would support a progressive tax plan for Illinois. Before we start taking more taxes from everyone at the same rate - let's make it fair and just in terms of income levels.
Do you support a constitutional amendment favoring a graduated income tax? Please explain.
Speaking of! YES. As I mentioned above: new sources of revenue comes out of Illinois residents' pockets. I feel that we can balance a budget more effectively if we had a progressive tax plan. I support a graduated income tax because it is fair, right, and just. Those in poverty and our middle class needs relief.
Please list five areas where you would cut spending.
It is not fair for me to list things to cut when I do not know the FULL gravity of each item since I'm not a State Rep with the itemized budget at my disposal, along with details for each. But if we are able to consolidate services - that will save money. If we are able to let go of certain fees that other States do not burden their residents with, then let's do that. Being a resident of Northern Illinois, I know that it is easier to start a business, for example, in Wisconsin because they do not have the same fees and lengthy process as Illinois. IT IS TIME FOR ILLINOIS TO BECOME A "BEST PRACTICE" STATE. I desire for other States to model after what we do, not the other way around.
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?
Nothing. I feel that we must find another source of relief so that we can pay pension costs. One way to do that is to have...a progressive tax system. It's only fair to our residents that we find ways to pay their pension - the pension that they themselves paid 10% of their income into.
Should all new state workers be moved into defined contribution plans?
Defined contribution plans is something that I'm used to in my line of profession. It makes sense, but I'm not going to make that decision on this questionnaire without discussion with state workers and others.
What should the governor do to control pension costs during union contract talks? What would you do?
Rauner should a conversation where he talks AND listens to what is said. That is the foundation to how I would start contract talks. I will inform them where we are as a State, so that they are aware of our limitations, and also mention to them that workers are my top priority along with keeping the State afloat..."Let's work together" EGOS must be set aside. I know that it can be said that there's more to it. But I believe this needs to be dealt with at a foundational level.
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?
The budget impasse. People lost their jobs, students lost their grants, the sick died due to the impasse.
What should Illinois do — via tax policy, spending or other policy means — to keep residents from leaving?
We may be at the point that we will need to provide tax incentives for new teachers, new small business owners and new homeowners. And we need a progressive tax system.
What should Illinois do to promote job creation?
Provide tax incentives for corporations and small business owners - especially if they are willing to plant themselves in diverse districts. Incubators throughout the State for entrepreneurs. Which may mean that the State coordinates with County and Local officials to provide grants for these incubators.
Did you support the education funding reform bill that the governor signed in 2017?
I have my concerns with this bill. I'm glad that we were able to get funds to our public schools - however, I'm weary of the tuition tax credits for private schools. I desire to see as much funding as possible for our public school systems.
What, if anything, should the legislature do to help Chicago Public Schools?
At first, I thought that it would be widely beneficial for the CPS to have an elected board. However, as I think about it, it may harm the way things are done for CPS. I foresee millions of dollars being contributed to campaigns for the board coming from far and wide - which may not help CPS students in the long run. As of right now, I would need to speak with people connected to CPS before I definitively provide an answer for this question.
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 the opportunity scholarship ONLY because I desire to see as much funding to be given to our public schools. That is Illinois' priority. However, before trying eliminate the program - I'm willing to bring certain people to the table for a discussion on bargaining. I will share how I feel, they will share what they feel. At the end of the day, they will know why I vote the way I do.
Should Illinois do more to regulate campaign fundraising? If so, what?
I do not feel that this is a top priority at this time.
What help, if any, are you receiving from your party and its leaders, including staff help, advice, legal assistance, money and resources? Be specific.
None. I've paid for Votebuilder from the Democratic Party. I have an advisor who advises via text message when needed who works for a gubernatorial candidate. Right now, in this primary, I'm working hard on my own merit.
If you are an incumbent, give an example of a time you worked across the aisle on an important issue.
I'm not an incumbent, however, that is what I plan to do. It is imperative to be a proud Democrat or Republican, but to also have the discernment on when it's time to work together for the sake of the people.
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'm not an incumbent, but my responsibility is the 67th district. Thus, if I feel that significant issues hurt my district, then I must do what's best for my district. If that means that I'm worked against in the next election cycle, at least I will maintain my integrity.
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 do not support term limits for legislators. When we do that, then staff members for each district because the ultimate decision maker — and that's not how it's supposed to happen.
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?
Concerning redistricting, if it's not the case already, I believe that it should be governed by a NONPARTISAN body. If this is not the case at this time, then yes, I will lobby and/or sponsor for this to happen.
Tell us a little about your family.
My father, Maurice West, is Senior Pastor of the West Side Church in Rockford, IL, while also being the Chairman for the Rockford Police and Fire Commission. He retired in 2012 from Northrop Grumman after 35 years in Finance. My mother, Sharon West, is the anchor for my family. The sweetest and strongest person that you would meet. She received her Bachelor degree at the age of 60, after raising my brother and I. My brother, Mark West, lives in Chicago — he is an actor and marketing consultant. He received his Acting degree from the University of Illinois in 2012.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
I am an award-winning music composer (www.TheWESTMelodies.com)