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The State Income Tax
I have consistently opposed the income tax increase that was passed before I became a State Representative, skeptical that the state could be relied upon to use tax payer money in a way citizens would approve of and that was worthy of their sacrifice. Since that time, I have seen the state move away from the bad budgeting practices that had put us in such a dire situation. The pension has been paid in full for the last four years. A plan to significantly modify the pensions has been voted on and is awaiting a verdict in the courts. The deficit has been prioritized and cut in half. Major changes and painful reductions were made to Medicaid, the state's biggest expense. Nearly $3 Billion in cuts have been taken across all areas of state spending and the number of state employees has been drastically reduced. Bipartisan committees in the House go through each budget line by line and reevaluate what items will remain and at what funding level. These are all things we as tax payers demanded.
The state is at a critical crossroads. Financial solvency will depend on these cuts and continued fiscal restraint, as well as, securing an appropriate amount of revenue to maintain the core services our citizens rely on and that the state is mandated by law to provide such as; public safety, road safety, care for seniors and the disabled, etc.. Your elected officials need to make hard decisions about how all of our revenue sources; income tax, sales taxes, etc., work together and can most fairly and adequately be set, based on our immediate financial situation, to meet these needs.
Property Tax Increases
Skyrocketing property taxes are making it harder for our families and senior citizens to remain in their own homes and is the biggest concern I hear house to house. I have voted on many bills that would attempt to slow that growth and also raise the senior citizen exemption to help provide relief. As the state regains financial footing, more can and should be done to stabilize the often sharp and unpredictable burden of property taxes.
The General Assembly voted in December of 2013 to make significant changes to the state retiree pension plans, including years of service and calculation of Cost of Living Adjustments. The pension program has been paid in full the last four years, ending the dangerous practice of under funding. I supported these difficult changes and also the budgets that reaffirmed the state's need to meet its obligation to the retirement security of its own employees.
Fighting Medicaid Abuse
Taxpayer dollars are wasted every year through Medicaid fraud and abuse by scammers illegally taking benefits. I helped to pass tough new verification standards so those who don’t qualify for benefits are taken out of the program.
Creating jobs and putting people back to work is a top priority. I have spoken with far too many people in our community who have had their hours cut or who are out of work all together. We must provide financial incentives to encourage companies to hire unemployed workers and expand their operation in Illinois, and foster investments in new technology and the green economy to create good paying jobs. Corporations that receive tax breaks and then move jobs out of the state must be held accountable by requiring them to refund their tax breaks while making them ineligible for future tax incentives.
Ending the Culture of Corruption
The citizens of Illinois are fed up with self-serving politicians who have repeatedly abused our trust and misused our tax dollars. I will fight for legislation that requires mandatory jail time for government officials and employees who commit serious ethics violations and automatically strip them of their taxpayer-funded pension benefits.
Recall of State and Local Elected Officials
Too often our elected officials are failing those they were elected to represent. When this is the case, the public should have the option of recalling those who have failed them; however, the Illinois Constitution does not currently permit recall of elected officials. I support amending the constitution to provide the voters with the ability to recall all state and local elected officials.
Term Limits for Elected Officials
Too often, our elected officials become entrenched with the office they hold and lose touch with those they represent. Instead of working for us, they spend their time fighting each other and listening to the special interest groups and lobbyists. I know many citizens believe an active and engaged community should use the voting process to select or retain representatives that do a good job on their behalf, but others are concerned that system is too easily corrupted and that term limits should be explored. I support giving voters a say in a constitutional amendment to establish term limits for statewide and legislative offices.
Reducing Legislative Pay
Too many legislators have been insulated from the hard choices average families are making right now. Legislators receive a full-time salary, but some serve part-time. Many have other jobs and collect another full-time paycheck. I voted with the General Assembly to support a budget that, for the sixth year in a row, included furlough days, no cost of living increase and reduced reimbursements for elected officials.
Reforming the Budget Process
We must live within our means and maximize every hard earned tax dollar. Legislators need to go through the budget line by line and reduce spending. We must end taxpayer funded programs that aren't working and taxpayer funded jobs that are unnecessary or duplicative. We must find and eliminate fraud and waste at all levels of government. Legislative leaders should not have total control of the process - the days of legislative leaders drafting a budget in a backroom should not return.
Many people choose to live in our community because of the quality of our schools. As a mother of three boys who is married to a high school teacher, I believe that preserving and strengthening these institutions, as well as making college affordable, is vital to our state’s future. Improving the performance of public schools is critical and requires that all parties – parents, teachers, administrators, and members of the community – work together to make education a priority for children. The State needs to invest in funding all levels of education appropriately and honor its obligation to pay our schools on time.