Previous political experience: current State Representative; former President, Proviso Township High School District 209
Occupation/Employer: Attorney, Partner at Sanchez, Daniels & Hoffman, LLP
Education: Northwestern University, B.S., John Marshal Law School, J.D.
State government has been stuck in neutral for a year, with the General Assembly and the governor seemingly unable to compromise in such a way that allows the passage for something as fundamental as a budget. What needs to take place in order for the state to begin operating functionally?
The first thing we need to do is to put aside all other issues and focus on putting a budget in place. Once we do that, we can focus on reforms that help move the state forward. We need to go line-by-line through the budget to find wasteful spending and inefficiencies. We also need to be open to new revenues to help pay for services to seniors, children and the disabled depend on. That is why I support putting in place a progressive income tax and increasing taxes on millionaires to help fund our schools. Not everyone is going to get what they want, but we have to be able to compromise.
What aspects of Gov. Rauner’s “turnaround agenda” do you support, if any, and why? What aspects will you not support, and why?
I support parts Gov. Rauner’s agenda that would reduce the costs of worker’s compensation, freeze skyrocketing property taxes, and make Illinois more business-friendly.
However, in all of these proposals, Gov. Rauner includes proposals that would hurt middle-class families and reduce the standard of living. Stripping the rights of workers is not going to help move the state forward—it will move the middle-class backwards.
State funding of education has long been talked about as needing to be addressed. How should the state approach education funding; what solutions would you advocate?
We need to invest more in our children, teachers and schools. I supported efforts to bring approximately one billion dollars to our local schools by increasing taxes on individuals making over a million dollars a year. I also support examining improvements that could be made to the school funding formula so that the schools I represent can benefit from increased or more targeted state funding.
What is the single thing the state legislature could do, outside of funding reform, to improve public education in Illinois?
We need to find a way to increase communication between teachers and parents and help increase parental involvement in our schools. That is why one of the first bills I passed was to create “Bring Your Parent to School Day.” Getting parents in the classroom and involved in their child’s education helps students succeed inside and outside of the classroom.
In 2014, Rep. Welch introduced legislation that allowed River Forest residents to vote on whether or not River Forest Township should be merged into that village’s government. The residents voted against the motion, but it was still put on the ballot. What are your general thoughts on the number of taxing bodies in the 7th District? Are you in favor of consolidating any of them? If so, how would that look and how would that benefit residents of the district?
I support efforts to consolidate local government and save taxpayer money. In fact, served on the governor’s Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force. I think that to successfully consolidate all of the parties have to work together to meet the needs of local residents.
State pension obligations continue to hamstring Illinois. How should the system be reformed?
We need to put in place constitutional pension reform. After the Supreme Court’s ruling against pension reform that was passed in 2014, it is clear that we need a different solution. I think we have to have serious negotiations to find a solution with lawmakers, union leaders, financial experts, business leaders and taxpayers all at the table.