Democratic candidate for Governor
Responses to our questions
Illinois lost more residents than any other state in 2016, according to U.S. Census data, and the trend appears to be continuing for 2017. What do you believe is the No. 1 reason for the exodus? What do you believe a governor can do to reverse the pattern?
The terrible financial status of the State of Illinois, including the very high tax burden, mainly property taxes.
The very high crime rate in Chicago.
I would solve the financial and debt and bond and pension problems by dissolving the State of Illinois politically and replacing it with three smaller states. These states would be 1. Chicago, 2. Suburban Cook and collar counties and 3. The rest of the state. Each state would be a brand new state with its own Constitution, Governor and two Senators. All debts and pensions plans would be divided up and each new state would handle these problems as they see fit. All financial obligations would be re-negotiable.
For property tax relief, see number 6. The extreme violence in Chicago, including 4,000 shootings and 800 murders per year should be addressed by taking the money out of the drug trade. Over half of these shootings are gang related and depriving the gangbangers of their drug trade would result in a marked decrease in the size and activity of these gangs. Marijuana should be legalized, preferably throughout the entire state to take the profit out of the marijuana trade. Cocaine and heroin should be decriminalized so that the medical community could treat these addicts as patients rather than criminals.
If elected, what specific policy changes would you enact to improve the economic climate of Illinois? Please outline your position on the use of tax incentives and give-backs to attract businesses to Illinois? Do you support the expansion of existing taxes (sales, income, gasoline) or the enactment of new taxes to increase state revenue?
The Governor should take a more pro-business stance than previous Democratic Governors. I oppose the increase of any existing taxes and would instead try to find new sources of tax revenue.
Where do you stand on a graduated income tax?
Unlike my five opponents, I oppose the graduated income tax and in fact oppose any increases in any new taxes - the flat income tax, corporate taxes or graduated income tax. I would be in favor of finding new sources of taxes. The best source would be legalizing marijuana throughout the state and the second best would be casino gambling in Chicago.
The next governor will face significant challenges balancing the state budget. If the legislature sends an unbalanced budget, what will you do? If the budget requires cutting, where would you cut? Please be specific.
There is no part of the budget that is more sacred than the other for me. If cuts have to be made, I would make them equally throughout all of the different departments in the budget.
Can Illinois balance its budget without RAISING taxes?
I would be opposed to raising taxes as I have said before. The state government needs to tighten its belt rather than the taxpayer.
What do you propose as a solution to the state's $130 billion unfunded pension liability?
The pensions are not underfunded. They are over-promised. The existing pensions should be re-negotiated and with my plan of dissolving the State of Illinois, this could be done by the three new states.
What if anything should state government do to address rising property taxes?
I believe there should be more consolidation of all of the various government entities. Property tax relief could also be achieved by pension reform. The profits from legalized marijuana and casino gambling in Chicago should be distributed directly to property owners throughout the state. This is being done in Colorado and it is very successful and well liked.
Do you support or oppose banning elected officials from serving as property tax lawyers?
I would ban elected officials from serving as property tax lawyers.
What changes, if any, should be applied to Cook County's property tax system?
Mr. Berrios should resign. The property tax system should be reformed so that wealthy owners are not favored and poor neighborhoods are discriminated against as is the case now.
Have you ever appealed property taxes on any property you own? If so, what was the outcome?
I own two pieces of property, one in Burr Ridge and one in Berwyn. The latter is a business property. I have appealed my assessments many times over the past 30 years and have received small decreases most of the time. The lawyers take 50% and I have probably achieved a savings in the range of $6,000 to 8,000 per property over the past 30 years.
Lawmakers passed, and Gov. Bruce Rauner signed, a school funding bill in 2017 that included a scholarship tax credit program, which offers a tax credit in exchange for scholarship donations to private schools. Do you support this program? If yes, how will you support its growth? If no, will you dismantle the program?
I support the recent tax credit in exchange for scholarship donations to private schools. This increases the total amount of money coming into the educational system and also increases competition.
What is your position on charter schools?
I support charter schools.
Do you support an elected school board in Chicago? Please explain your answer.
I support an elected School Board in Chicago. In general, I support any plan which makes our state more democratic (with a small d).
Tell us about your family.
I grew up in Dayton, Ohio. My father was a policeman at Wright Patterson Air Force Base and my mother was a homemaker. We lived in government or public housing until I was 14. I have four children. My oldest son is a lawyer in Boston and my oldest daughter works for Scholastics in New York City. My daughters here are a registered dietitian and my youngest daughter works at St. Joseph's Hospital in Chicago.
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
You would be surprised to learn that I went to Woodstock in New York. This is the original and genuine Woodstock in 1969, not the copycat one in the 1990's.
Give us an example of a time you worked across the aisle or against your party on an issue.
Much of my platform is an example of working across the aisle.
Where have you shown independence from your party?
Most of the Democratic Party is in favor of a graduated income tax and I am opposed to it.