Q & A with Sullivan, Frese
7 months ago
Senator, challenger for 47th District seat discuss issues
Q. You have come out against the state’s 67 percent tax hike. Are there any taxes you would favor to help shore up budget deficits?
A. Currently I am not in favor of any tax increases in our state. Our state has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. We need to rein in our spending and be sensible with our budget and expenditures, not taxing our way out of our problems.
Q. Do you support the $1.6 billion in Medicaid cuts Springfield recently passed?
A. The bipartisan reforms done in Springfield to Medicaid have a lot of support, however we need to make sure that we protect and provide for our most vulnerable population. I certainly support efforts to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in the system. I do question eliminating the prescription drug program for seniors though.
Q. How do you propose we fix the state’s pension program, which you have said “isn’t flawed, it’s flat broke”?
A. Our pension system needs reform and everything needs to be on the table. Both parties need to work together on coming to a solution that is as fair as possible. I have also spoken about Rhode Island, who reformed its pension system after being severely in debt. They did this by reforming several parts of their pension program. This included raising the age, having additional funds paid into the pension system, moving it to a 401K type of system, and reducing the annual COLAs. I am not saying that we need to be exactly like Rhode Island, however we need to stop talking about the problem, and instead begin the process of resolving this crisis.
Q. You’ve spoken against the state’s recent 67 percent income tax hike. What, then, is your preferred method of deficit reduction?
A. I did not support the recent income tax increase because I did not support raising taxes without first making necessary budget reductions. We will not reduce the deficit by only making cuts, or only raising revenues. To reduce the deficit, I believe we should implement all of the following: 1. Continue to pass budgets that spend less than we bring in. For the last three years, we’ve implemented this obvious, common sense process in the form of “Budgeting for Results” and have begun to pay off our backlog of bills. 2. Grow the economy. By letting the tax increase expire and incentivizing business growth through important programs like the Illinois Enterprise Zone Act, we can foster job creation and economic development here in Illinois. With a healthier economy, we will gain a healthier state budget. 3. Address our unfunded pension liability. Steeply rising pension payments are taking a larger and larger piece of the overall budget pie. We need to stabilize these costs and pay our unfunded liability to ensure our retirement systems are solvent for the future. 4. Look to gaming, not tax increases, for additional revenue. Recent proposals to expand and regulate the gaming industry in Illinois would bring in additional revenues to the state and support agricultural industries.
Q. Democratic leadership has suggested shifting some pension costs to local school districts. Do you favor that move?
A. No. Dropping real estate values and reduced transportation and general state aid funding have already negatively impacted local school districts. Shifting this additional cost to local school and community college districts would place an undue financial burden on those districts, and leave districts with only two options: cut additional staff and programs, or raise property taxes. Neither of these options is acceptable.