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Illinois House, Dist. 59: Carol Sente


Political affiliation: Democrat

City: Vernon Hills

Marital status: single

Occupation/Firm name: >Principal/President, SRBL Architects

Campaign HQ address: >680 Barclay Blvd, Lincolnshire, IL 60069

Campaign website: www.carolsente.org

What is your campaign budget- So far, I have raised $35,000 for the General Election

What are your top priorities for your district-

My top 5 priorities for District 59 are getting people back to work, freezing property tax increases, dealing with transportation in an environmentally responsible manner, environmental stewardship in general, and provision of important human services.

As a small business owner, I understand how to help create more jobs in Illinois. I sponsored legislation to create tax incentives for small businesses, create greater access to small business loans, and made it easier for retailers to open new locations in Illinois. We need to provide meaningful financial incentives for employers to relocate or expand in our area to create good paying jobs, improve local economies, and make our state more competitive. Companies that take state tax breaks should be held accountable, and be required to pay the tax breaks back if they leave the state. I believe also that we have the opportunity to lead the nation in improving environmental standards, and fostering the development of green jobs and sustainable technologies that will help the environment, improve people￯﾿ᄑs health, and be a source of economic growth.

One of the most frustrating issues facing the district are escalating property taxes. This year we provided some relief through considering foreclosures and short sales in the local assessments as well as creation of Tax Assessment Boards for greater transparency of the assessment process. We do not want to force residents out of Lake County because they cannot afford the local taxes.

Transportation gridlock in District 59 is a big issue. We need to expand existing roadways and keep infrastructure repaired while also looking at ways to better time our road construction projects and find longer lasting materials/methods so that we are not continually in road construction mode. We need to consider new routes in a manner that is environmentally responsible while simultaneously expanding our mass transportation alternatives and bicycle pathways. Environmental stewardship of a more global nature is vitally important to the district both to protect our resources and as a source for job creation.

I will continue to work to ensure that important services are available and accessible for seniors, veterans and people living with disabilities. As a care-giver for my elderly mother, who has a physical disability, I understand the hardships people go through to access services. I maintain a full-time constituent service office in Vernon Hills so that people can contact me if they need assistance connecting with services or to identify gaps in coverage that need to be addressed in Springfield.

What are your top priorities for the state-

My top 3 priorities for the state are budget reform, making Illinois a more business friendly state and cleaning up our reputation for corruption. We need to move beyond the corruption of the Blagojevich-Ryan eras and clean out the corruption in state government. In order to bring the state to financial health, we have to ensure that there is transparency in spending so that our tax dollars are not squandered for an individual￯﾿ᄑs political gain. We need to focus on creating good jobs with highly qualified people working them to help modernize our economy and ensure the state￯﾿ᄑs ability to grow and compete with other states in attracting businesses.

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-

Just as I do with my business, the state must make difficult but necessary cuts in spending. This includes the legislative pay cut I supported.

At the end of the 2010 spring legislative session, I joined with nine other legislators, both representatives and senators, to propose spending reductions and savings in the amount of $1.3 billion. Those proposals included:

Operations across all state executive agencies (5% reduction) $300 million

K-12 Education ￯﾿ᄑ Mandated categoricals (special education) $200 million

K-12 Education ￯﾿ᄑ Grants $100 million

Higher Education $100 million

Healthcare and Family Services (Medicaid) $200 million

Renegotiate and rebid existing multi agency contracts $300 million

Salaries for part time Boards and Commissions $ 2.5 million

Decreased mileage reimbursement for all state employees $ 6 million

Subsidy for salaries of local assessors, supervisors and coroners $ 4 million

Requiring Retiree health care contributions $100 million

Having recently taken office, I have already passed legislation to reform the public pension system and require the state to completely reform its budgeting process. The budget reform is patterned after the State of Washington, which has adopted ￯﾿ᄑbudgeting for outcomes￯﾿ᄑ, or BFO. BFO will require the state to establish the level of revenues we can expect, set priorities for spending and measure programs to be funded by whether they meet these priorities. BFO has the potential to dramatically alter the current system, which is clearly broken. I anticipate that reforming the way we budget will result in savings and economic growth sufficient to fund state government, provided the state proceeds with BFO I have proposed from top to bottom.

Given the current economic challenges facing middle-class families in my district, I believe that we need to improve the taxation system in Illinois to find a more balanced way to collect revenue without adding to the burdens of working families who are struggling to make ends meet. Over the past year, high taxes have driven too many families from their homes in my district. I cannot support a tax increase under these current economic challenges.

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-

What is your view on state borrowing to pay bills, including to pay pension obligations-

The state needs to honor payment of our pension obligations and make timely payments. I am not a huge fan of borrowing to pay bills. The state, as well-run private businesses and households do, should operate within their means. I believe we need to urgently move forward with the budget reform I initiated and passed to start budgeting for outcomes and budgeting out three years ahead. With this significant reform, I believe we will have a better picture of how we can realistically fund state government and challenge agencies to develop creative and cost effective ways to deliver services. Once we experience the full improvements of these budget reforms, I would consider borrowing as an option if done so in a responsible manner, with proper planning, and reasonable interest rates coupled with a commitment to pay off our debt in an efficient and responsible manner.

Did the General Assembly abdicate its responsibility this year and last year by passing a lump sum budget-

I can only comment on what happened this year as I filled a second year of a retiring representative￯﾿ᄑs term. As a freshman legislator, I was appalled at how the state budgets and initially voted No on all budget ideas presented to me. When this forced a recess, I worked diligently with a small bicameral group of legislators to propose budget cuts and personally drafted legislation to change the way the state budgets. My legislation dealt with significant budget reforms to change the way the state budgets and require the state to budget for outcomes including setting a revenue ceiling based on realistic revenue projections. The state must establish annual priorities based on citizens￯﾿ᄑ input and then divide the total budget based on established priorities. We must define specific outcomes and measure results for each line-item in the budget and state departments must submit proposals to provide for these outcomes and have them ranked by a bi-partisan committee, not by legislative leaders. We have to make a serious commitment to getting our fiscal house in order and eliminate ineffective programs that are not meeting goals. To show residents that we are serious about making changes, we need to provide easy-to-read cash flow statements online so that people can see how every dime is spent. With these changes in mind, I believe that the General Assembly acted responsibly to improve the way we budget and create much needed transparency for residents.

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-

Having worked with child-burn victims, I understand the life-threatening position our brave first responders put themselves in everyday they go to work. The fear and stress they put themselves in is honorable and I thank them for their service and protections. However, the state must continue to reform the outdated pension system and eliminate gold-plated pension plans that are fiscally unsustainable. This decision should be a negotiation with all applicable parties so something fair and financially sustainable can be worked out. Given the current economic concerns the state is facing, I would want to ensure state retirees maintain high quality health care benefits while pursuing options to save taxpayers money without adding to the financial burden of retirees.

How would you reform the state Medicaid system-

The state is still struggling to make good on a current backlog of Medicaid payments and driving medical professionals to refuse Medicaid patients. We need to audit Medicaid programs to ensure, like with other areas of state government, that we are getting the resulting outcomes we want. I believe that we need to invest more in patient wellness and disease prevention throughout the lifecycle to reduce high Medicaid costs associated with treating chronic diseases and their symptoms.

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-

To begin to rebuild our economy and attract jobs, government must start by cleaning up our own house. As a small business owner, I am outraged that Illinois￯﾿ᄑ culture of corruption and debt is driving businesses out of state and slowing job creation. I support legislation that imposes mandatory jail time for serious government ethics violations and strips public pensions from officials who commit crimes while in office. Because so many people are struggling financially, I supported pay cuts for state legislators to assist in addressing our budget problems, even though it was unpopular among other lawmakers.

We need to examine the current job creation programs and determine if these are working or if they are just creating more bureaucracy that looks good in press releases. This spring, I championed efforts to require the state to budget for outcomes to eliminate failing programs. I anticipate that through serious state ethics and budget reforms, we will experience savings and economic development that will restore businesses faith in Illinois and spur job creation.

Illinois has the opportunity to be a leader in new alternative energy production and bring green jobs to the state. I will continue to push for renewable energy, like solar and wind, to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, reduce asthma-causing air pollution, and jumpstart the economy with new green jobs.

I think we need to look at the tax incentives Illinois provides to employers to come to Illinois and create jobs. This spring, I supported tax incentives for small businesses to hire new employees. I think we need to expand the state￯﾿ᄑs EDGE credits to encourage new businesses to come to Illinois. We must be more cautious about how we award tax incentives and follow-up to ensure that jobs are created and kept in Illinois. It is wrong that businesses take state tax breaks and then ship jobs out of Illinois. I support new legislation that would require corporations to refund the tax breaks they received if they move jobs out of state.

The Illinois Constitution says the state has the "primary responsibility" for funding education. How would you make the state live up to that obligation-

Illinois needs to make sure that we have educational standards that enable our students to graduate ready to compete in the global economy. I believe that a portion of any new revenue freed up by eliminating failing state programs and from economic growth as the economy improves should be dedicated to increasing education funding. As the state moves to implement the legislation I wrote and passed during my freshman year on budgeting for outcomes, I believe that education needs to be identified as one of our top priorities and receive a healthy percentage of the overall budget. There are many cost effective programs that the state should explore to improve education. I would like to see better principal mentoring programs, stronger mentoring and induction protocols to help teachers in the early part of their careers to succeed and remain committed to teaching, and the implementation of a longitudinal data system that more accurately monitors the performance of students and schools.

I would like to bring in leaders from the Illinois￯﾿ᄑ business community to offer their perspectives and ideas about the types of skills they believe public school students need to succeed in college and in the work world. I think that charter schools are a good way to develop creative solutions in education, and I am heartened that new legislation recently increased the number of charter schools. I believe that new charter schools have the potential to help us develop new and innovative methods of instruction and must be closely monitored to track their success. If they prove successful, I hope they can be adopted on a larger scale across the state.

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

Yes, I support limits on campaign contributions. I was proud that one of my first actions in Springfield as state representative was to help pass Illinois￯﾿ᄑ historic campaign finance reform law - a measure that had the backing of Change Illinois, the state￯﾿ᄑs leading campaign finance reform organization. I think that this initiative, especially the limits on leaders￯﾿ᄑ and party expenditures during primary campaigns was a major step forward; I would like to find a way to extend those limits to general election campaigns, while ensuring that outside special interests groups are not given an unfair advantage in terms of their abilities to spend money on campaigns and influence election outcomes.

Do state Legislative leaders have too much power-

Yes. With the current way the legislature is organized, I believe that too much power lies with legislative leaders and believe that through new budget reforms, rank and file legislators should have more input on setting budget priorities and spending through bipartisan committees. I also believe in term limits for leaders and further efforts on campaign finance reform.

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

Yes, the state needs to play an active role in reducing global warming and improving environmental stewardship. My commitment to the environment exists passionately at a personal, business, state and federal level. In addition to driving a hybrid vehicle, recycling, purchasing green products, making home green conversions and being an active outdoors enthusiast for my entire life, I own an architectural firm that is committed to being an environmental leader. My firm specializes in designing green and LEED certified buildings for local governmental clients and designed the first LEED Gold Police Station in the US, first LEED Gold Village Hall in Illinois, and first LEED Gold Fire Station in the Chicago suburbs to name a few. 100% of our architectural staff are LEED Accredited Professionals and we encourage an employee contest to make each year￯﾿ᄑs Earth Day more successful than the last, lessening and offsetting our firm￯﾿ᄑs carbon footprint as well as proactive green education to our clients and community. I was a leader on the Vernon Hills Park Board to advance our green initiatives and served as the board liaison to the District￯﾿ᄑs Environmental Committee.

I consider the environmental impact of everything I do personally and at my business to limit waste and ensure that materials are recyclable and free of chemicals as much as possible. I think that there are numerous things that the state can do to reduce its carbon footprint. One of my top priorities is to create green collar jobs through the development of renewable energy use and retrofitting state buildings so they are more energy efficient; expand and preserve open spaces; reduce the state￯﾿ᄑs carbon footprint; work with neighboring states to improve efficiency standards; improve mass transit; and encourage green-practices in everyday activities within the state￯﾿ᄑs bureaucracies, in the public sector, and in people￯﾿ᄑs daily lives.

As state representative, I have drawn on my experiences as an environmental advocate and small business owner to help craft better public policy, including passing House Bills 5429 and 6202 to expand renewable energy in Illinois. I serve on the Renewable Energy Committee, the Green Caucus, and have created a Citizens Advisory Committee on Environmental Issues to help bring ideas for environmental policy to Springfield and discuss proposals.

What is your view on gay marriage and civil unions-

I am a strong supporter of civil rights for all people and do not believe that discrimination based on sexual orientation should be tolerated. I believe that same-sex couples should have the same rights under the law as heterosexual couples when it comes to financial, medical, inheritance, and death benefits.

List your educational background

I have a business degree from Indiana University and have taken master￯﾿ᄑs degree coursework at Northwestern University￯﾿ᄑs Kellogg School of Management.

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

I have served as a counselor at the YMCA camp ￯﾿ᄑI Am Me￯﾿ᄑ for young burn victims and helped mentor counselors in-training. I was also a volunteer counselor and board member for five years with Marcie￯﾿ᄑs Place Children￯﾿ᄑs Grieving Camp working with those who have lost family members, and have served on the board of the Sommer Memorial Foundation, which provides scholarships to high school seniors who have lost a parent. I am also a member of the Chief Executive Network, Illinois Chiefs of Police Association, Illinois Fire Chiefs Association, Illinois Association of Park Districts, National Recreation and Park Association, American Institute of Architects, American Public Works Association, and the Sierra Club.

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

I was a Commissioner and Vice-President of the Vernon Hills Park District. I served on the park board four years before resigning to focus on my new responsibilities as state representative. I was appointed to complete the remainder of the unexpired term of State Representative Kathy Ryg on September 12, 2009.

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

My professional work as the president of an architectural firm that specializes in public facilities for municipalities and park districts has given me a keen understanding of the concerns and operations of local governments as well as a strong working relationship with community leaders throughout the 59th District. Since being sworn in as state Representative, I have told local governments within the 59th District that I will not solicit new governmental clients within the district and I will personally remove myself from projects from existing clients.

Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed

Health Care Council of Illinois, $34,553.20

Friends of Michael J. Madigan, $27,304.48

Associated Firefighters of Illinois, $5,500

Richard Duros, $5,000

Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, $4,500

Please paste a brief biography here

Carol Sente believes that the highest calling is service to others, a lesson she learned from her parents, who immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe to seek a better life following the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and devastation of World War II.

Carol grew up in the northern suburb of Glenview, the middle child of three girls. Carol and her sisters remained close and attended Indiana University together. Carol earned a business degree in Indiana and has taken master￯﾿ᄑs degree coursework at Northwestern University￯﾿ᄑs Kellogg School of Management. After tragically losing her older sister, Christine, in an auto accident, Carol became an active volunteer to help others coping with grief. She has served as a counselor at the YMCA camp ￯﾿ᄑI Am Me￯﾿ᄑ for young burn victims and helped mentor counselors in-training.

She has also volunteered for five years with Marcie￯﾿ᄑs Place Children￯﾿ᄑs Grieving Camp as a counselor working with those who have lost family members, and on the board of the Sommer Memorial Foundation, which provides scholarships to high school seniors who have lost a parent.

As a state representative for less than a year, Sente has drawn on her experiences as a small business owner to help craft better public policy. To help the state account for every dime it spends, Carol is standing up to legislative leaders and is working in a bipartisan way to reform the state budget process by requiring that the budget be balanced and that performance-based reviews are conducted to identify and eliminate programs that are not working.

Carol, who has lived in Vernon Hills for 12 years, owns the architectural firm SRBL Architects in Deerfield, IL, a firm that specializes in designing recreational facilities, public safety buildings, and other municipal structures with a focus on green design and technology to help reduce the operational cost and environmental impact of new buildings. She is the former vice president of the Vernon Hills Park District Board, where she served for four years.

Her legislative priorities include creating good-paying jobs in the region, cleaning up state government by making it more transparent and stopping pay-to-play politics, and getting the state budget back on track to ensure that important services are available and accessible for seniors, veterans, and people living with disabilities. Carol has also focused on bring employers back to our region, protecting our families from criminal predators, improving environmental standards, and improving services and long term care options for seniors.

On September 12, 2009, Carol was sworn in to complete the remainder of the unexpired term of former State Representative Kathy Ryg.

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