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Illinois House, Dist. 56: Michelle Mussman


Office seeking, including district number

56th Representative District

Political affiliation: Democrat

City: Schaumburg, IL 60193

Marital status: Married

Occupation/Firm name: Mother and Community Volunteer

Campaign HQ address: 514 W. Wise Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60193

Campaign website: www.VoteMichelle.org

What is your campaign budget- No response

What are your top priorities for your district- My top priorities for my district include (1) creating jobs and putting people back to work, (2) fighting to stop any proposal attempting to increase the income or sales tax, and (3) providing the people of the 56th District with a State Representative they can trust and rely on.

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. I am committed to finding ways to create new jobs in my district so that we can put people back to work. 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.

With so many families struggling to make ends meet, Illinois should not raise the income tax or impose any additional taxes. I will say NO to efforts to increase the income tax or tax services important to our families, such as oil changes and haircuts. In an effort to reduce property taxes, we must also force local governments to re-evaluate administrative expenses. I also strongly support legislation that freezes increases in property tax assessments.

I want to bring government back to the people. If elected, I will provide the residents of the 56th District with a State Representative who understands the needs of our community and serves as our voice in Springfield. Many of us have lost faith in our government and feel that elected officials no longer work for us. We feel that they are focused on the concerns of lobbyists and special interest groups rather than the needs of our community. My vision of what a State Representative should be is very different from what is currently in Springfield. I believe that we need to elect people who understand that it is a privilege, not a right, to serve the community. That's why I believe it is time for average citizens to step up and serve our community and why I decided to run for State Representative. I want the people of the 56th District to feel comfortable reaching out to me to discuss their thoughts and concerns, and I want to make a difference in their day-to-day lives. While we might not agree on every issue, I will do my best to represent them and address their concerns.

What are your top priorities for the state- My top priorities for the state include (1) making Illinois a business friendly state so that we can retain and attract new jobs, (2) fighting to stop proposed income or sales tax increases, (3) working to cut spending and balance Illinois' budget, and (4) ending the culture of corruption that pervades Springfield.

Creating jobs and putting people back to work must be a priority, but to do so we must make Illinois a more business friendly state. We must find ways to ease our fiscal pressures and create a stable environment for those that do business with and in Illinois. We must demonstrate that we want to grow and improve our relationships with businesses and that we want businesses in Illinois to succeed.

If elected State Representative, I will vote NO on any bill that increases the income tax or imposes additional taxes on working families and businesses. Increasing taxes will only further harm our fragile economy by pushing many families over the edge and forcing small businesses to close their doors. Rather than raising taxes, we need to create new jobs and put people back to work.

Illinois must elect representatives willing to make the tough choices and reign in our spending habits. I am certain Illinois can find a way to balance the budget without a tax increase if we learn to live within our means and maximize every tax dollar. We need to maximize every dollar and make sure that taxpayer dollars are spent on projects, programsᅡᄌ and jobs that move Illinois forward. We must go through the budget line by line and reduce spending. It's time to put an end to taxpayer funded programs that aren't working or taxpayer funded jobs that are unnecessary or duplicative.

The citizens of Illinois are fed up and sick of self-serving politicians who have repeatedly abused our trust and misused our tax dollars. It is clear that typical politicians in Springfield are more concerned with their own political agenda than the wellbeing of the people of Illinois. I believe it's time for average citizens to take back our government--we need citizen legislators, not career politicians. If elected, 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.

Lay out your plan to solve the state budget crisis. Be as specific as possible, including any recommended spending cuts. Given a massive deficit, what areas would you prioritize for state spending- What can Illinois do without- There are so many ways that government can help people, but we must learn to live within our means. We need to maximize every dollar and make sure that taxpayer dollars are spent on projects, programsᅡᄌ and jobs that move Illinois forward. I have several recommendations and I am open to any and all suggestions to cut or eliminate state spending so that Illinois can balance its budget and reduce taxes.

First, we must review the actions of our governmental agencies to ensure the proper administration of the state. A thorough examination of our agencies will help us eliminate waste and overspending. We will be able to better identify areas of fraud, particularly within our Medicaid system. We should begin by reviewing the audits prepared by the Auditor General. The Office of the Auditor General goes to tremendous lengths to provide complete and accurate audits of various state agencies and programs, and most audit reports reveal areas in which the State can improve the way it functions.

Second, we must put an end to taxpayer funded programs that aren't working or taxpayer funded jobs that are unnecessary or duplicative. In 2007 the Office of the Auditor General attempted to inventory all of the state programs and discovered the State funds approximately 1,750 programs, and that some are duplicative or could be consolidated.

Third, Illinois should rebid state contracts and award them to the lowest bidder. It is time to put an end to sweetheart deals and special favors for insiders and campaign contributors.

Fourth, we must make the budget process more transparent and give taxpayers an opportunity to review and comment on how the state spends their money. It is time for rank and file members to stand up to leadership, take control of the process, prioritize spending, and propose cuts.

Fifth, I believe there is merit in zero based budgeting, which would mean that Illinois could only spend incoming revenue. Implementation would be somewhat difficult, but I support efforts to change the way Illinois currently operates.

Sixth, we need to implement a 10% reduction in salaries for elected officials. I also believe that pay raises for high ranking political appointees should be rescinded and future raises should be eliminated. These reductions will not result in significant savings, but will demonstrate that officials are sharing the pain many Illinois families are currently experiencing. Future pay raises for elected officials should be voted on by the taxpayers.

Do you support or reject increasing the state income tax- What about expanding the sales tax base- What is your view on taxing retirement income- Illinois should not raise the income tax or impose any additional taxes on working families and small businesses. If elected State Representative, I will vote NO on any bill that increases the income tax or imposes additional taxes on working families and businesses. As I previously stated, increasing taxes will only further harm our fragile economy by pushing many families over the edge and forcing small businesses to close their doors. Rather than raising taxes, we need to create new jobs and put people back to work.

I am opposed to taxing retirement income.

What is your view on state borrowing to pay bills, including to pay pension obligations- I believe that borrowing to pay the bills is not the answer--we must learn to live within our means and only spend available resources. I am opposed to borrowing to pay the state's bill and believe that our legislators have a responsibility to reduce spending and eliminate waste and fraud. I am certain Illinois can find a way to balance the budget without a tax increase or borrowing if we learn to live within our means and maximize every tax dollar.

My hope is that this crisis has at least convinced our legislators that we cannot continue to avoid our fiscal problems. We must address our budget crisis and pension crisis head on. It's time to stop the partisan bickering and work together to find real solutions. Once we get the state back on track and Illinois finds itself in a more stable economic situation, we must never repeat the mistakes of the past.

Did the General Assembly abdicate its responsibility this year and last year by passing a lump sum budget- In my opinion, the General Assembly failed to do the job they were elected to do. They should make specific line item appropriations for programs and expenditures rather than giving the Governor a blank check. Passing a lump sum budget is the equivalent of a parent giving a credit card to a child and expecting the child to pay the mortgage and buy groceries instead of buying toys.

The General Assembly should have never left Springfield without passing a balanced budget with specific line items. That's not leadership and that's certainly not why we elected them. The members should have told Speaker Madigan that they were prepared to stay in Springfield until the job was done ᅡï¾- a job that they were elected to do ᅡï¾- no matter the political consequences. We need members who will stand up to leadership and do their job in the best interest of the people they represent, even at the cost of their elected positions.

The state last spring created a two-tier pension system. Would you go further by including new police officers and new firefighters and by reducing benefits for current employees- Would you support making retired state employees pay more for their health care- The General Assembly took the first step toward pension reform by creating a two-tiered pension system, and I applaud their efforts, but we can do more.

I understand there is pressure to consider including police officers and firefighters in the changes made this past year. We owe a debt of gratitude to public safety officials who risk their lives for our community. Before we make any reforms, we must consider the nature of these jobs and ensure that we do not jeopardize public safety. For example, a firefighter running into a burning building needs to be able to carry a person on his/her back; unfortunately, time catches up with all of us and we all reach an age where that just isn't possible.

As for altering current state worker pension benefits, the vast majority of legal experts commenting on this issue have said that it is unconstitutional to reduce current employees' pension benefits. It is my understanding that of all the lawyers who have commented on this issue, only one firm disagrees with this conclusion.

I do not support making retired state employees pay more for their health care. Many of these people are living on fixed incomes, and asking them to contribute more at this stage would be pulling the rug out from under their feet.

This crisis isn't going to resolve itself and legislative leaders cannot attempt to put together a backroom deal. If we are going to solve this crisis we need everyone to be at the table and everything must be on the table.

How would you reform the state Medicaid system- Illinois cannot provide unlimited services to everyone, particularly when we cannot pay our bills; however, we must do our best to take care of those most in need. Given the shaky economy, it is no surprise that the number of people on Medicaid has skyrocketed. Illinois must find a way to reduce the cost of Medicaid without jeopardizing the wellbeing of those who receive benefits from the program. The best option, and possibly the solution to the problem, would be to create jobs and begin transferring Medicaid participants to the employer's healthcare provider. Until the economy turns around and Illinois begins to experience real job growth, elected officials must find other creative ways to reduce the impact of Medicaid expenses.

We should explore the possibility of tightening the eligibility requirements, such as increasing the income limits and conducting a thorough review of a person's assets prior to enrollment and while the person receives Medicaid benefits. We must target those who defraud the system by billing for services they did not deliver, providing inadequate services, and those who neglect or abuse persons under their care who are enrollees in the Medicaid program. Finally, we must encourage the citizens of Illinois to become more active and adopt healthier lifestyles.

I am open to moving the state's Medicaid system to managed care if it can be demonstrated through an independent analysis that significant cost savings can be achieved while still ensuring quality outcomes for patients.

What would you do to facilitate job growth in Illinois- Is the money spent by the state to recruit businesses and offer tax breaks money well spent- Creating jobs and putting people back to work must be a priority for the people of Illinois, and we should demand that every single person elected this November commit to policies that encourage job growth and economic recovery. The fact is our elected officials have created an unstable environment that is unfriendly to businesses. For decades, politicians have mismanaged taxpayer dollars, financially ruined our state, and harmed the economic future of Illinois. It is no wonder that small and large businesses looking to expand or relocate go elsewhere, particularly given the fact that the Governor continues to call for a tax increase and the members of the General Assembly failed to adopt a balanced budget.

If I am elected State Representative, I will oppose efforts to increase the income tax on families and businesses. I will fight for financial incentives that encourage companies to hire unemployed workers and expand their operation in Illinois. I will push legislation that holds corporations that receive tax breaks and then move jobs out of the state accountable by requiring them to refund their tax breaks.

The Illinois Constitution says the state has the "primary responsibility" for funding education. How would you make the state live up to that obligation- As a mother, I want our children to receive the best possible education and have access to programs that will prepare them for success. However, our schools are at risk because politicians in Springfield have mismanaged taxpayer dollars and financially ruined our state. We can, and we must, do better for our kids.

Illinois must reprioritize spending so that tax dollars dedicated to education are spent wisely. We need to allocate more for the classrooms and less for administrators' salaries and perks. I support limiting school district administrative expenses and requiring 85% of revenue to be spent on educating our kids. I also believe we must puts limits on administrator's pay and require they serve at least 20 years before receiving a pension.

Additionally, Illinois schools are in financial trouble and the problem is exacerbated when the state fails to pay its obligation to the school districts on time. Schools should not have to borrow money or layoff teachers and cancel programs because the state cannot pay its bills. If elected, I will demand the State fund schools appropriately and pay its bills on time.

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. Parents must take an active role in their child's education and establish an attitude within their children that success in school is important. This isn't always easy, but as parents we must get involved, whether we help with homework, meet with teachers, or volunteer at the schools. Teachers and administrators must ensure that our schools are safe and that the atmosphere encourages learning. The community must take an active role in supporting our children by providing adequate after school programs, such as sports and educational activities.

The people of the 56th District are fortunate to live in a community with excellent schools, but we can, and we must, do better for our kids. Through my work with the PTA, I've learned that parents and teachers, working together, can tremendously improve our schools.

How would you improve the campaign finance law passed in 2009- Would you support capping donations from party leaders during general elections-

I believe that everyone should have an opportunity to express their political views and support of or opposition to candidates of their choice; however, no one individual person should be permitted to silence the political voice of others. I applaud the General Assembly for taking a step toward reforming our broken campaign finance system, but I find it disingenuous that the legislation did not impose caps on contributions from legislative leaders. I support limiting the amount a candidate may accept from individuals, corporations, and PACs. I do not support limits on contributions to a candidate from a political party with which the candidate identifies.

Do state Legislative leaders have too much power-

Leaders of a party or caucus should not have unlimited power or control over the members of the General Assembly, and I disagree with the recent campaign finance law that failed to cap contributions to candidates from party leaders.

Should the state play an active role in reducing global warming- If so, how-

I support requiring Illinois to increase and accelerate its renewable energy portfolio standards and increase financial incentives for the construction of new wind and solar energy projects. Every state needs to be proactive and take steps to reduce its carbon footprint and eliminate factors contributing to global warming. Additionally, the federal government, in collaboration with other nations, must develop a comprehensive plan to combat global warming.

What is your view on gay marriage and civil unions-

Let me make it clear that if elected to serve in the General Assembly, I will uphold my oath of office by supporting the US and Illinois Constitutions and will faithfully discharge the duties of the office. When reviewing legislation, I will take into consideration the constitutionality of all proposed laws and the concerns of my constituents. I would not support legislation permitting gay marriage. I would support legislation permitting civil unions.

List your educational background

Bachelor of Science in Design, University of Cincinnati (1995)

Please list civic, professional, fraternal or other organizations to which you belong

Enders-Salk PTA: served as both President and Treasurer; Schaumburg Township Council of PTAs (STC): served as Vice President; District Citizen's Advisory Council: served as Secretary; Bilingual Parents Advisory Committee; District 54 Recycling Committee

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government-

No

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government

My husband, George, is a teacher at Fenton High School in Bensenville.

Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributedUnited Auto Workers $1500

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen $710

Al Prochaska $500

Northwest Suburban Teachers Union Local 1211 $350

Neil Carlberg $285

Please paste a brief biography hereMichelle Mussman is a mom on a mission to take back state government. Mussman, who has never before run for office, is fed up with state government's debt and dysfunction. She will use her real life experiences as a community volunteer and managing the family budget to find common sense solutions for solving the state's problems.

Mussman has been an energetic part of her local Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) as well as the Schaumburg Township Council of PTAs (STC), which encompasses the 27 local PTAs within Schaumburg Township School District 54. As a former president and treasurer of the PTA, Mussman knows the importance of fiscal responsibility and responsible governance.

Her legislative priorities include creating well-paying jobs, attracting new businesses to the area, fostering transparency and accountability in state government, and strengthening schools. Mussman will also focus on supporting property tax relief and funding for home care programs that help senior citizens remain in their own homes, protecting children from criminal predators, and cleaning up air and water pollution. As the proud daughter of a military serviceman, Mussman knows we must do more to ensure that returning veterans receive the care they deserve.

Mussman graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Science in Design. She is the married mother of three. Her husband, George, is a high school teacher at Fenton High School in Bensenville, where he teaches AP History and is a theater director.

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