The State of Illinois faces many complex issues, and the solutions aren't easy (if they were, we'd have enacted them by now). The right answer for some may be the wrong answer for others. When addressing these, the first question to ask is, "What's best for the people of Illinois?"
FAIR TAX AMENDMENT
As you are probably aware, Illinois will be voting on an amendment to the state constitution to allow for a graduated income tax (called the "fair tax"). Last session the legislature passed a series of tax brackets in anticipation of the amendment. Under that system, those making under $100,000/yr would see a slight decrease in their tax bill, those making between $100,000 and $250,000 would stay the same. Above $250,000, the rates begin to differ for single and joint filers. For single filers from $250,000 to $350,000, and for joint filers up to $500,000, the rate would be 7.75%. For single filers reporting between $350,000 and $750,000 in income, and for joint filers from $500,000 to $1 million, the rate would be 7.85%. How do these rates compare against other states? See for yourself: (Pay attention not only to the top rate, but the income level at which that rate kicks in - you may be quite surprised!)
Opponents to the amendment argue that it would give the legislature the freedom to raise taxes whenever they like. The legislature already as that capability, of course, but now they have to raise (or lower) the rates on everyone the same and thus, opponents argue, legislators are reluctant to raise taxes on the lower and middle classes. That, in my opinion, would not change under a fair tax. If legislators are worried that raising taxes on the lower and middle classes will hurt their re-election chances now, they will still be worried about that with the fair tax. And, in fact, data from other states that have a progressive income tax verifies this - if anything, there's downward pressure on income taxes in those states: https://budgetblog.ctbaonline.org/states-with-graduated-income-taxes-are-more-than-twice-as-likely-to-cut-taxes-as-to-raise-them-67a9603a96f7. The fair tax will increase revenue by asking those who benefit the most from the state's infrastructure, court system, educational system, etc., and who can most afford it, to help more to fund those things. It will also give Illinois more flexibility with which to tackle our long-term problems - high property taxes and the public pension deficit.
The other large objection to the fair tax is that it will drive rich from our state. I have often argued that tax rate is not a major factor in the decision on where to live and do business. What a location offers - infrastructure, education, medical facilities, culture, quality of life issues - is much more important. And studies back that up:
So bottom line: I think the fair tax amendment is good for Illinois, and wholeheartedly support it. To see how you would be affected check out the following website:
Illinois had a 2 year budget impasse that affected our state financially and hit the citizens of Illinois the hardest. As a member of the DeKalb county board, I have experience working with members of both parties to pass a fair and balanced budget. A budget impasse is costly both financially and to the citizens of Illinois who rely on social services and education. I will work to make sure a budget impasse never happens in the state again.
Education funding in the state of Illinois relies to heavily on property taxes which not only creates a burden for Illinois families but also creates inequitable education funding in the state. I believe that the state needs to invest more in education to make sure that every child receives a fair and quality education.
As a retired professor, I know the importance of higher education funding. I will work to make sure that a budget impasse which heavily affected higher education never happens again in the state of Illinois.
Without proper funding, Illinois schools lack the resources to stay competitive to attract out-of-state students and to recruit students in-state as well.
I also believe that education should be affordable and attainable to all.
Paul supports the Access Bill (HB2394) which is co-sponsored by members of both parties including former IL-70th Representative, Bob Pritchard. This bill provides equal access for students to apply for scholarships and does not require any additional funding from the state.
We need a functioning government, accountable to the people. The first step in achieving this is to ensure that our electoral process gives us a government that truly represents the people and not outside interests - including the political parties.
- End Political Gerrymandering: *
“Fair map” redistricting. Political parties use gerrymandering to ensure they keep their power. This too often results in districts that are not competitive (so the office holders don’t have to be as responsive to constituent needs), and in legislatures that don’t accurately reflect the demographic and political makeup of the state. A bi-partisan group needs to be empowered to draw new districts that result in fair and accurate representation.
- Local Funding of Campaigns:
All money raised for a political campaign should be raised in the district. Outside parties have no business influencing local elections. Why should the Koch brothers (KS) or George Soros (NY) or the NRA (Fairfax, VA) or the Sierra Club (Oakland, CA), for example, have any say on who we in northern Illinois elect? If local chapters of groups like these raise money locally to contribute, that’s fine, but national organizations don’t have our best interests in mind when they try to influence our elections.
- 6 to 1 State Match for Small Donations
Under this system, the state would match small campaign donations (say, $200 or less) on a 6 to 1 basis. A $100 donation would end up giving the candidate $700. This gives the average voter a bigger say in the election, and consequently diminishes the influence of large-money contributors. New York City has been doing this since 1998 (at a 4 to 1 match level; the 6 to 1 level was set in 2007). By my rather rough estimate, this program would have cost Illinois about $70 million in 2018 (out of a $37 billion budget).
Increase bipartisanship in Springfield
The budget stalemate during the Raunder administration was a result of a breakdown in cooperation, and communication, between the parties, and between the legislature and the Governor. The stalemate forced many service agencies out of business, pushed several of our state universities to the brink of shutting down, and unnecessarily increased Illinois' deficit by billions of dollars. We cannot afford to maintain the toxic atmosphere in Springfield that results from our elected representatives putting the good of themselves and the party above the good of the people. We need to return Lincoln's government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" to the people.
I will work to advance several initiatives for making our representatives accountable to the people, rather than their party:
- Term Limits on Leadership *
While I don't favor term limits in general, I do think putting limits on how long officials keep their leadership positions makes sense. General term limits tells districts who they can and can't have as their representatives. Leadership limits, however, doesn't prevent districts from electing their favored candidates, but does guarantee a turnover in the "ruling class" in Springfield, which would allow for fresh faces and new ideas to rise.
- Split Leadership
Currently, one person can be both the leader of his/her party, and of a branch of government. This allows for too heavy a concentration of power. I would work for splitting these leadership roles - one could be a party leader or a legislative leader, but not both.
- Power Sharing *
In most elected bodies, from Congress to the State House to county boards and city councils, the majority party controls all the committees. When I first joined the DeKalb County Board, I successfully pushed to change that. Now each party controls a number of committees in proportion to their representation on the board. DeKalb typically has a 13-11 split, so the majority party gets 4 standing committees, and the minority party gets 3. This gives the minority party an active role in governing and a chance to bring legislation important to them to the full board. In practice, this has led to more communication and more cooperation between the parties, and better governance for the people of DeKalb County. I will work to bring this type of change to Springfield.
These will be uphill battles, to be sure. Getting to the top won't be easy. But if we don't try, it will be impossible to make the changes we need.
* Innovations successfully implemented on the DeKalb County Board