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Illinois Senate District 15, Democratic Primary

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The questions

All candidates were invited to respond to questionnaires, although not all chose to participate. Click on a candidate's name to see the unedited response to each question.

Biographical information & experience
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    Harris
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    Mahon
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    Miller
Harris
Birthdate: 2/25/1979
Occupation: Small Business Owner/Former NFL Player
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Nicole

Education:

I attended Northwestern University and received my BA in Communications, while playing four years of college football. I graduated in 2002 and was drafted from Northwestern in the first round by the Oakland Raiders.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

-Restoration Ministries volunteer

-Created the Napoleon Harris Foundation which provides football camps
for youth in our community

-Member of the Board of Directors, House of James Shelter

-Sponsors annual toy & turkey giveaway

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.

N/A

Mahon
Birthdate: Did not respond
Occupation: Administrator/Village of South Holland
Marital status:
Spouse:

Education:

Bachelors Degree in International Studies from Bradley University
Juris Doctor from DePaul University – College of Law.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

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

Appointed as the Director of Communications for the Village of South Holland in 2001; the Deputy Village Administrator in 2004; the interim Village Administrator in March 2011; and currently serving as the Deputy Village Administrator.

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

I currently serve as the Deputy Village Administrator for the Village of South Holland.

Miller
Birthdate: 9/7/1965
Occupation: Regional Sales Trainer
Marital status: Married
Spouse: David E. Miller

Education:

Bachelor of Business Administration - Howard University
Graduate Business Courses - Pepperdine University

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

National Sales Network
Healthcare Businesswomen's Association
League of Women Voters

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.

State Representative - David E. Miller - Husband
Chief - Division of Oral Health State of Illinois - David E. Miller - Husband

Campaign information
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Harris

Campaign headquarters: 369 E. 147th St. Suite H
Website: www.electnapoleonharris.com
Campaign manager: Phil Molfese
Campaign budget: $300,000
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
N/A

Mahon

Campaign headquarters: 430 E. 162nd Street #320 South Holland, IL 60473
Website: www.patmahon.org
Campaign manager: Mike Nylen
Campaign budget: $150,000 - $200,000
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
The fourth quarter D2 form will be filed by the due date.

Miller

Campaign headquarters: 20340 Joy Lane Lynwood, IL 60411
Website: www.DonnaMillerforSenate.com
Campaign manager:
Campaign budget: $140,000 - Primary
$100,000 - General
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
$5000 - DENT-IL PAC
$25,000 - Personal Loan

What are your top priorities for your district?
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    Harris
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Harris

As State Senator of Illinois' 15th District, I will be a strong voice for jobs and will use my experience as an entrepreneur to create jobs and advocate for small businesses to create jobs in the 15th District. I will also work to improve education and the schools within the district, and around Illinois. Finally I will work hard to fight crime and make our streets safer for our kids and families to live.

Mahon

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
• Access to sufficient credit for small businesses
• Increase the number of successful minority owned businesses
• Jobs


TRANSPORTATION
• Metra Southeast Service Line from Crete to Chicago
• Third Regional Airport in Peotone
• Illiana Expressway
• I294/ I57 Interchange


EDUCATION
• School Funding Reform
• Greater Accountability for Performance
• More Substantial Vocational Training

Miller

The top priorities for my district are:
Job Training and Retraining for displaced workers, addressing healthcare disparities and Education Reform and Accountability.
I am seeking this office to help provide creative solutions to improve the quality of life for people in Illinois. I bring more than 20 years of corporate experience to this office with a focus on healthcare, equality in the workforce, job preparedness and education reform and accountability. I have witnessed disparities to access, services and options available in healthcare. These disparities disproportionately affect women and working families. Helping families is my mission. I will bring my experience and perspective to the illinois Senate.

What is your top priority for the state?
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Harris

The economy and jobs. Illinois must work hard to create jobs to keep the economy going. I have experience creating jobs within my district. That experience that needs to be brought to Springfield. We cannot continue to lose businesses to others states, unemployment is too high and every job counts and gives one more person the dignity of a job. We owe that much to the people of Illinois.

Mahon

Fiscal responsibility (finding new sources of revenue)

Miller

The top priority for the state is to deal with the long-term structural debt problem that has been facing the state for several years.

For incumbents, please list your accomplishments. For challengers, what unique strengths would you bring to the job of state lawmaker?
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Harris

My experience operating small businesses within the district has given me valuable experience and firsthand insight into the needs and values of my district and the struggles of Illinois residents. I have opened businesses and created jobs within my district. This insight needs to be brought directly to Springfield to help legislators enable job creators. Also my experience as a professional athlete playing in the NFL has given me the drive and motivation to accomplish what needs to be done, and I will bring that drive and determination to the General Assembly on day 1.

Mahon

Did not respond

Miller

This is an open seat so it is the perfect time for a new vision for the 15th Senatorial District. The unique strengths that I possess are derived from my experience in corporate america and volunteer work. I have worked for some of the top healthcare companies in the world. My experience in Sales Training and Development centered on collaboration and innovation. I know how to work with wide diversity of people from different backgrounds, which will serve me well in the State Senate. I have developed training programs for a sales team of 800 people as well as strategic tactical planning and budget plans for a $500 million business. These skills will help me when addressing the needs of my constituents and the planning process necessary to tackle the challenges of the state. I have volunteered in many organizations and realize the importance of giving back. I believe that education is the great equalizer and have been privileged to attend one of the finest universities in the country. I want this option available to all students and citizens so we can be competitive in a global environment.

The state public employee pension system is severely underfunded and paying down the debt threatens to crowd out spending on core state services. Do you support reducing pension benefits not yet earned through a bill like SB512, which offers state workers three options for earning future pension benefits. Should police officers and firefighters be included in a reduced pension system?
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Harris

SB512 is not a sustainable solution to our pension problem. Firefighters', police officers' and teachers' pensions are all held under Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund; it is, therefore, unfair to demand higher contributions and reduced benefits from teachers but not the other pensioners.

Mahon

I do not support the reduction of pension benefits for those already in the system.

Miller

See below

If you don't support a bill like SB512, how would you deal with the state's unfunded pension liability?
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Harris

The strategy for meeting our pension challenges in Illinois must be sustainable and constitutional. First I would demand higher payments from employees who draw the largest salaries; second, I would mandate that the state make minimum quarterly (not annual) payments into the IMRF; third, I would mandate that a certain percentage of budget surpluses be earmarked for payment toward our pension liabilities (after the aforementioned minimum payment is made.)

Mahon

Instituting a tiered income tax system in order to increase revenues, and all residents would then pay their fair share.

Miller

The Illinois Constitution prohibits reduction of benefits for employees currently in the system and retirees. I do not support “changing the rules in the middle of the game.” The pension system in Illinois has been woefully underfunded for decades. Due to budget shortfalls and the refinancing of the pension debt, this problem has only become more apparent and is one of the main drivers of our budget crisis. Although recent pension reform legislation was signed into law, more improvements are needed to reduce the burden on future generations and to ensure the state's fiscal health.

To solve these problems, better overall financial analysis of benefits is needed. In previous years, early retirement was used as a short-term vehicle to balance the budget and reduce the pension deficit. Unfortunately, reports on the fiscal effects of the early retirement option showed that projections were grossly inaccurate – the option cost more than expected and provided fewer savings to the state. If early retirement is continued, a more realistic buy-out amount must be calculated, and the program's true potential savings must be thoroughly and conservatively examined.

In addition to the pension system being generally underfunded, other practices has occurred that undermined the system to increase pension benefits. In an attempt to “thank” individuals for their years of service, substantial increases in salary towards the end of their career were given without a change in title or responsibility. The pensions of officials were adjusted up to their final salary, at the taxpayers' expense. Limiting the state's share of career ending increases would incentivize local officials to more carefully scrutinize these increases.

"Double-dipping," where a government employee retires, is re-hired by the government elsewhere, retires again, and collects two pensions, has officially ended. In addition, the practice of giving salary increases to individuals at the end of their careers, without a change in title or responsibility, to inflate their pensions at taxpayers' expense, has ended. Limiting the State's responsibility for these career-ending increases will force local units to scrutinize whether these increases are necessary.

Changes in the contribution level must have the flexibility to reflect overall cost increases due to rising costs. Although recent pension reform legislation is expected to save $119 billion over the next 35 years, any additional pension benefits must come with a clearly defined funding source. Portions of revenues can placed in a lockbox for pension reduction. Lastly, the pension dept has to be a priority in budget negotiations and should be exempt from changes in administration or political games.

Do you want the 2 percent point income tax increase to expire in 2014, as planned, or would you like to see the tax increase extended beyond 2014?
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Harris

This plan will need re-evaluation in 2014. I do not automatically support extending the tax hike unless necessary. Making a tax hike permanent is not a solution to the states problems, filling budget gaps through raising taxes is a fix used all too often in Springfield. As a State Senator I would seek other long term solutions to fix this problem.

Mahon

Absent tax reform, including a tiered income tax system, I do not support epealling the the income tax increase that is due to expire in 2014.

Miller

The 95th General Assembly passed a temporary tax increase on the last possible day of session to offset declining state revenues and shortfalls. However, many of the legislators who supported the tax increase were lame duck or last minute replacements. This will not be likely to be the case in 2014. Unfortunately, Illinois history of rescinding “temporary” tax increases is poor. Former Gov. Jim Edgar also proposed a temporary tax increase that ultimately became permanent. This indicates that the General Assembly will find reasons to rationalize continuity of any taxes.

My priority is to see further spending reduction and streamlining measures by the state. Budgeting for Results Commission and budget indicators are included to force the General Assembly to help discover cost reducing measures in a bipartisan manner and strategically utilize additional revenue for debt – not additional spending. The Commission also has the task to analyze existing mandated expenditures and give recommendations whether to keep these mandated expenditures. I think this is a good first step but the jury is out if it will go far enough.

As our country is still rebounding from a historic recession, it would be difficult to blanketly support cutting or extending the tax increase at this time. However, I believe to continue to reform the budgetary process through transparency, reductions and streamline to reduce spending.

Other cost saving measures that can be implemented include merging the offices of the Comptroller and Treasurer to save $10 to $12 million a year once implemented, maximizing federal matches, and pooling purchasing power across agencies. A portion of the revenue growth should be placed in a lockbox to go towards restoring the rainy day fund.

The main drivers in our state's budget are costs associated with our pension, healthcare and education systems. The pension system reforms that have been voted on to help reduce long term costs to the state, but may not be as impactful as planned by 2014. Utilizing a managed care model, where appropriate, and providing front line primary care providers the resources they need, will help reduce the overall cost to our health care system. Utilizing technology will help reduce costs, streamline payments and help reduce Medicaid fraud. In addition, consolidation of school districts will reduce the costs to our education system.

Tax hikes and fee increases should not be considered until the state has exhausted all budget trimming and streamlining measures.

Do you support any changes to the corporate income tax rate? Do you support any other changes to the state's business tax structure?
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Harris

We must remain competitive in order to keep businesses in Illinois. We cannot continue to lose companies and businesses to neighboring states.

Mahon

I believe a strong business environment is critical to the viability of the State. I am willing to consider adjustments to the corporate tax rate so long as it meets the revenue needs of the State, and does not stifle the businesses ability to be successful.

Miller

At this time I do not believe there should be a higher tax rate on businesses. We need businesses in our communities. Businesses look at education, transportation and taxes – this is exemplified in my district the need for all 3 to be attractive for a company to locate to the region. The biggest issue I have heard from corporations is taxes. Prior to changing the tax rate, our state needs to evaluate the impact the recent increase has had on jobs, state economy and business development.

I would like to see more transparency with TIFs to determine if job growth has occurred esteeming from the tax incentive. There has to be fair tax business incentives for major corporations to stay in Illinois. The benefits should be continuously evaluated and realized.
I would be in favor of job creation tax incentives for businesses. Similar to enterprise zones but evaluated to determine if benefits are realized. I would want to ensure that our state benefits from the incentive, and not executives.

What should the state government do to create a more favorable business climate and to promote job growth?
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Harris

We must work to attract businesses, through incentives and any means necessary. Times are too tough to continue losing jobs through political posturing. We must put everything on the table to keep the jobs in Illinois, while attracting growth to our state as well. We must demonstrate that Illinois is open for business, for good. Not short term fixes for the biggest corporations.

One way to do this is on a local-level, building communities up, one town at a time. By enabling communities and small business through micro-financing we allow growth to spread throughout the state from the bottom up. The state needs a local job creation mechanism designed and customized for each local community's recovery. This is just one way Illinois can work to promote business and jobs. I believe we must continue to use every option and philosophy on the table to make Illinois an even better place to open a business.

Mahon

1. Have a tax structure that's comparable to the surrounding States
2. Continue to work with local municipalities to find appropriate places for businesses to locate
3. Institute more vocational training in the high schools so that we have a prepared workforce

Miller

I believe that the role of state government can have a positive impact to encourage economic business development.

My district includes communities some of the most economically challenged communities in Cook County. One important issue facing business owners in the southland communities is high rate of property taxes. Collectively the region pays some of the highest rates in property taxes in Cook County. Although the over reliance of property taxes to fund education is a statewide problem, it is magnified in the southland of Chicago. In addition, Indiana and Will County border the region and both have a lower tax base. Therefore, it is very difficult to attract business to these communities. Lower property taxes and incentive programs would help encourage business development. Tax incentives that bring businesses to certain communities can be offered for economic development. TIFs are one example of how tax relief is offered to bring in business- although I support greater transparency with TIF's. Recently, the General Assembly passed tax relief for companies to stay in Illinois. I would want to ensure that when tax incentives are offered, that jobs stay in the state.

Businesses locate where there is good Transportation System. Illinois needs to continue to support the infrastructure and transit that makes business and personal commuting attractive. Funding of the capitol bill for state projects like high-speed rail and road improvements must be a priority for the state. Locally, I support the development of the Illiana Expressway, Southeast Metra rail extension, I294 and I57 exchange, and the third airport in Peotone transit projects. These projects will all have tremendous benefits for our region to attract business.

Programs to provide incentives to small businesses relocating to Illinois or to expand into economically challenged areas that depend on state payments will also spur business growth. These incentive packages can consist of a streamlined payment process and greater access to data to state opportunities. Opening up the procurement process will also help business growth for venders doing business with the state.

Investments in education are also investments in job creation. Employers move to areas where they can recruit a highly educated, highly skilled workforce. Good schools are the basis for solid communities -- they are cited as a deciding factor for businesses that relocate or reinvest. Illinois is home to some of the finest higher education institutions in the world. These institutions attract some of the most talented people in their fields. We need to continue improving these institutions so that people who value education will stay in Illinois and start their own businesses.

Every level of government should participate in job creation and business growth As State Senator; I will bring these levels of government together to focus on economic development and job creation.

Lay out your plan for paying the billions the state owes schools, universities, human service providers and others. Would you support borrowing to pay down those bills?
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Harris

The constant borrowing does not provide a long term solution, however bills need to be paid until such a solution is determined. I will work with legislators to find long term solutions. Borrowing gets us in trouble, and I will work hard to find those solutions.

Mahon

1. Institute a tiered income tax system
2. Continue to identify and eliminate wasteful spending
3. Find additional revenue sources

Miller

The end to budget gimmicks and more transparency into the process is needed in any plan to pay bills owed to providers and institutions. Open dialogue is needed to determine priority and needs so that a fair structured methodology is determined that is agreed upon. As Senator, I would want input from these groups but also the State Treasurer and State Comptroller to help solve these problems

In terms of policy, the state needs to maximize the utilization of all Federal Matching Programs. At this time, we need to capitalize on all federal programs and dollars that are available to our state. An example is the Medicare reimbursement from the federal government, national healthcare implementation or matching educational dollars. Illinois needs to support and invest in universities that can obtain research dollars. Studies have indicated that dollars invested in higher education benefit the state in a order of magnitude. Any revenue generated from these sources need to go to what they were intended to go towards paying back bills. In addition, any cost savings that materialize from managed care model can also go towards reducing the payment cycle.

Although many providers are owed billions for services rendered, realistically they all cannot be paid at one time due to cash flow and revenue shortfalls from a cash flow perspective. I believe that facilities that take care of our most vulnerable and typically cannot withstand lengthy payment cycles should be considered priority. Salaries are mandated by law, but the continued use of technology should help reduce cost to help with cash flow. A state-purchasing program will be an attractive incentive for many pharmaceuticals, supplies and services would help reduce costs.

Historically, the intention of borrowing to pay bills is conducted for short term, well defined uses to help with cash flow payments to necessary services. Under these circumstances, it can be useful to keep the flow for services similar to any business cycle. It was not intended to be part of a long term solution to our budget's structural problems.
Over the past few years it has not been used with this focus, but to restructure large long term debt. I do not support the state's practice of borrowing to pay bills as a long term solution to the budget. The state's practice of borrowing to pay bills and pension obligations has lead to further downgrading of Illinois' bond rating, costing the state even more money in the future.
In order to tackle our state's structural deficit, borrowing cannot be used to ensure that our state is not put in the situation where we have to borrow money to pay bills and meet pension obligations. We need truly balanced budgets that do not saddle our future generations with debt and address the major drivers of our budget –education healthcare and the pension system.

State legislative leaders are trying to give the General Assembly a role in negotiating contracts with state labor unions. What is your opinion of that?
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Harris

There needs to be independent oversight over any contract negotiations, either an independent board or a bi-partisan overview.

Mahon

The responsibility of a Legislator is to legislate. Legislators negotiating union contracts could set up a system of unfair negotiations. There needs to be a healthly distance between those negotiating and those with a large amount of financial resource (i.e. lobbyists).

Miller

The collective bargaining process has been in place for many years. It has proved to be a successful means of negotiating contracts and ensuring fair compensation for state workers. During these tough economic times state workers have - through successful negotiation - taken furlough days off, not taken pay increases and other measures to help save money. This also helped ensure that there were no layoffs. I think a measure such as this would limit services for those most in need.

The legislature has tried repeatedly to expand gambling in Illinois. Do you support expanded gambling in Illinois? In what form? Do you support a Chicago casino?
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Harris

If done in a responsible manner, yes. I support a casino and expanding gambling. We are losing out on revenue and jobs to neighboring states, especially Indiana. The success of the casino by O'Hare Airport, demonstrates the ability to create jobs, and right now that is something Illinois cannot wait any longer to make a move on.

Mahon

Any expansion of gambling in Illinois needs to include a casino in the South Suburbs. It also needs to include measures to protect individuals and those dealing with addictions. As an economic engine for the State of Illinois, yes, I support a Chicago casino.

Miller

I have reservations regarding gambling as a means for “economic development” or for “the schools” regardless of weather the state or private companies are in control. I also have reservations that funding sources to the state depend on how much somebody loses in some form of gaming. Illinois already has one of the largest lotteries in the country. Recent legislation would have a resulted in a massive increase in gambling in Illinois, which would have changed the complexion of our state. This means that gambling is already popular but with a low rate of return. Studies have been reported that significant populations who patronize gambling casinos are low income. Therefore, it only presents another opportunity for individuals to spend money in an area that has very little to no long-term financial rewards.

If gambling is expanded, a percentage of the money earned should be allocated towards additional education funding or property tax relief, not the general fund. In addition, casino investors receive huge long-term profits from the revenues generated from the casino. Negotiations of any license should ensure that the state also receives the same long-term profits. When casino shareholders resale their interest, the state should receive profits.

Although the City of Chicago would likely be the most profitable, this clearly strays away from the original intent of gaming to help distress areas. In addition, it has not been clear which jurisdiction would have ultimate control- the State of Illinois or the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Chicago. Other current casinos located nearby would likely lose revenue due to the attraction of Chicago. This could ultimately skew the overall revenue projections for the state.

Many multiplicities, business leaders and the Southland Chamber of Commerce in my district have desired a gaming facility located in the south suburbs for years. The rational is that the south suburbs is the best location to help stop the tide of Illinoisans going to Indiana to gamble and it would generate jobs for the region to many of the economically challenged communities. Several potential sites in the Southland have formed coalitions to help lure the gaming to the region. In addition, there have been discussions of revenue sharing amongst communities if a casino is granted to the region.

As State Senator of the southland, I would not oppose these efforts. I would not support any additional gaming legislation if the south suburbs are not included for a facility or revenue sharing plan that helps my district. I also would not support legislation that attempts to weaken the Authority of the Illinois Gaming Board. If gaming is expanded, then the necessary funding has to follow to protect against corruption.

As State Senator, I would host public forums to assess the public's view on this very important issue. If overall public sentiment were to support a local gambling proposal, I would be open to negotiations. Ultimately, I believe proceeds of any revenue should go towards areas and communities that have the greatest need. A revenue sharing agreement based on poverty count can be included in any gaming plan.

Would you seek any changes to the state ethics and campaign finance laws? Would you support capping what state party leaders can donate during a general election?
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Harris

I support the recommendations of Patrick Collins and the Illinois Reform Commission. Principally, I support limiting campaign contributions: there are limits if a candidate is running for congress in Illinois, or for office in 46 other states. I support the same kind of restrictions in Illinois, as well as improved reporting about contributions. I also support reforms in government hiring and contracting procedures. The commission recommends a monitor for hiring and purchasing, and I support creating a position to monitor each function, and investing each position with the authority to enforce transparent procedures.

Mahon

In general, I support stronger ethics and campaign finance laws but it would depend on the specific legislation being proposed.

Miller

Although many elected officials serve honorably, the unethical behavior of our two previous Governors has highlighted the need for the continued reform of the political process and the influence of money. Illinois has a history of corrupt public officials and “Pay to Play” politics. Lawmakers and citizens can change this culture by better regulating political giving and understanding their role in the political process.

I believe that campaign financing should be regulated and open to public review. Through technology, the State Board of Elections has improved access to a candidate's financial records. Transparency is in the best interest of the residents of Illinois and is necessary to determine the influence that lobbyists have on lawmakers, board appointments and governmental officials. Information needs to be easily available and accessible. Programs like the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal (ITAP) the current OpenBook program can be expanded to connect the dots and determine if links exits in contributions, procurement and state contracts.

I support greater sunshine on the way contributions are made. Limitations on contributions should be universal and possibly mirror federal regulations. I support limits on contributions and transfers from committees controlled by House and Senate leaders. This will help make legislators less reliant on leadership and increase independence in Springfield. I would like to see contributions made by 529 groups regulated by the state so people will understand who is paying for a particular message. These groups are increasing their presence in contributions and undermine the concept of contribution limits.

Would you back a constitutional amendment to shift from a flat income tax to a progressive income tax system?
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Harris

Yes

Mahon

Yes.

Miller

Yes. I would support a Constitutional Amendment to shift a flat tax to a progressive income tax system. A progressive tax would raise additional revenue from higher wage earners when the current system that has a greater percentage of lower wage earners' income going towards basic living expenditures.

Do you have a plan to adequately fund schools and reform the property tax system that results in inequities?
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Harris

The property tax system needs to be reworked and I would work with other legislators to create a more equitable program to fund our schools at a more equal rate, because the current system is not working.

Mahon

I have no specific plan except that there needs to be an increase in State revenues so that the burden of school funding is shifted to the State at a level of 51%, which is required by the Illinois constitutions.

Miller

Shifting the major source of educational funding from property tax will help the system. Former Governor Edgar first proposed a “swap” of an increase in income tax to offset the reliance of property tax. Similar legislative initiatives like this have failed over the years due to the lack of assurance that these funds would be targeted for education, the fear that wealthier school districts would lose money, and simply the political will. In this challenging economic and political environment, it is not likely that these factors will change to reduce the overreliance of property taxes to fund education.

The Equalized Assessed Valuations (EAVs), which represent the taxable property base for schools as certified by the Illinois Department of Revenue, is supposed to guarantee equal valuation treatment across all of the state's 102 counties. Unfortunately, many school districts remain under-funded and do not reach the Educational Funding Advisory Board (EFAB) levels due to the disparity of their local tax base. Less affluent areas with lower property values (which many exists in my district) will not be able to compete with areas of higher property values. This disparity in education for each pupil ranges from about $5,000 to as high as $12,000 depending on the school districts. Ultimately districts with lower property values cannot provide students with the same quality education as those of more affluent districts. This places additional burden on local property owners. Even after consolidation of school districts, pooling of purchasing power, cutting wasteful bureaucracy and any other sensible reform measures, a structural deficit and disparity due to the underlying funding structure will exist.

The percentage of state funding needs to increase instead of relying primarily on property taxes to fund education. Over the years, the percentage of state funding towards education in Illinois has decreased. The cost of educating children has continued to increase in the areas of teachers' salaries, books, programs and general administrative costs. This underfunding has left many of our school districts across Illinois facing deficit spending. To meet these expenditures, local municipalities use local property taxes towards education. The result is that local property tax is the primary source of local school funding in the State of Illinois. I am in favor of plans that shift the burden of educational funding away from property taxes to help achieve equality in our educational system in Illinois. The goal of any funding solution is to level up poorer school districts, not take away from affluent ones.

The Educational Funding Advisory Board (EFAB) has made recommendations for comprehensive reform. I would favor a dedicated revenue source and/or a property tax relief. This revenue source can be derived from savings from spending reforms and establishment of a dedicated state fund to match EFAB levels. As a transition, a moratorium can be placed property tax increases if the state commits to supplementing the funds of any loses to the school district. Lastly, accountability measures regarding both in academics and funding should be included in any type of educational/property relief package.

What is your view on gay marriage?
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    Miller
Harris

I believe everyone deserves the same rights as it pertains to marriage.

Mahon

I support gay rights and civil unions.

Miller

I would support gay marriage in Illinois. Civil unions have given same- sex couples rights that they were not allowed to have in the past. It is important for same –sex couples to have financial rights, healthcare input and the ability to make decisions regarding personal matters for their partners.

The race
The candidates
Napoleon Harris
Patricia "Pat" Mahon
Donna Miller
The district
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