suntimes
COARSE 
Weather Updates

Illinois Senate District 25, Democratic Primary

.

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
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter
Birthdate: 10/27/1970
Occupation: AT&T
Marital status: married
Spouse: Brandy

Education:

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

AFL-CIO North Central Illinois Labor Council
IBEW Local21 Union Steward
Democratic Party Precinct Committeeman

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

U.S. Navy (submarines)
Democratic Party Precinct Committeeman

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

N/A

Pierog
Birthdate: 9/28/1951
Occupation: self-employed
Marital status: married
Spouse: Robert Krawczyk

Education:

BA, University of California Irvine
MA, San Francisco State University
MBA, Roosevelt University, Chicago
Doctoral Studies, Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Executive Service Corps of Chicago
Association of Fundraising Professionals

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

Elected to the Saint Charles School Board (current)
Appointed to the Saint Charles Housing Commission (current)

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

Instructor at IL Valley Community College

Campaign information
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter

Campaign headquarters: P.O. Box 207 Geneva,IL 60134
Website: electstevenhunter.com
Campaign manager:
Campaign budget:
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.

Pierog

Campaign headquarters: PO Box 3501
Website: www.electcorinnepierog.com
Campaign manager:
Campaign budget: Primary Election $25,000
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
I am just beginning my fundraising campaign.

What are your top priorities for your district?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter

We need to continue our dedication to excellence in education by ensuring the state reimburses our schools on time and as agreed. This would allow our local school boards to properly budget for our academic year.

Pierog

Economic development for our suburban Main Street
Educational Opportunities
Transportation
Support of our vital Social Service Agencies

What is your top priority for the state?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter

Education Funding
Expanding the state's broadband system and intranet
Infrastructure Improvement will play a key role in creating jobs and increasing efficiency of small businesses.

Pierog

Jobs
Education
Environment
Sustainable Energy
Transportation

For incumbents, please list your accomplishments. For challengers, what unique strengths would you bring to the job of state lawmaker?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter

Did not respond

Pierog

For the past 35 years, I have engaged in a broad spectrum of vital community service efforts. My work has ranged from being a college professor and administrator to developing micro-business opportunities for the developmentally disabled to global health development. Currently, I am the founder and president of Sustainable Leadership Solutions, a consulting company specializing in values-based leadership education. I continue to advise nonprofit and governmental agencies on matters regarding executive transition, strategic management, fundraising, and economic development.

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?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter

No, I do not support reducing pension benefits not yet earned through a bill like SB512. Reducing future benefits does nothing to address the current debt. The current system would still be severely underfunded and we need to address this current debt. Focusing on tomorrow's debt does nothing but distracts us from addressing our current situation.

Pierog

Under Illinois constitutional law a pension creates a contract between the state and the member. Legislation that amends or has a direct effect of amending the pension code would be unconstitutional. Both the Illinois Supreme Court as well as the Illinois Appellate Court has consistently found legislation amending or having a direct effect of amending the Pension Code and ultimately reducing the pension benefits for current pension system beneficiaries unconstitutional regardless of the manner in which it is achieved. An individual who has contributed into the state pension system cannot be asked to contribute more without being given an equal increase in his retirement benefit package. I am opposed to senate Bill 512 since it would be in breach of the IL State Constitution, Article XIII, Section 5.

If you don't support a bill like SB512, how would you deal with the state's unfunded pension liability?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter

I would divert revenue from non essential programs that the state is not mandated or obligated to fund. We are going to need to prioritize our budget to pay our essentials.

Pierog

According to a fact sheet from the Illinois Retirement Security Initiative, “Illinois usually chose to underfund its employer contribution. Over time, this chronic failure to make the full employer contribution is the primary reason for Illinois state government's predicament today, facing the worst unfunded pension liability in the country.” The weighted average pension received by an Illinois retiree is $32,632. On a voluntary basis a current employee could be offered the opportunity to switch to a different plan pursuant to a change in the Pension Code. This amendment to the Pension Code would provide a provision where a balance would be calculated and moved over to the voluntary plan. The calculation of benefits would include included both actual employee contributions and assumed employer contributions. This change in the Pension Code must be approved by both the Legislature and the Members before it could be enacted. But the current employee contributions and investment earnings is actually cheaper to Illinois taxpayers than a proposed defined contribution plan. The current defined benefit plan covers the bulk of the benefit costs. Government contributions cover 26% of the total costs while for example investments earnings of the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) accounted for nearly 65% funding in 2009; in addition, the TRS employee contribution rate of 9.4% is the highest in the nation among public pension systems for teachers (Center for Tax and Budget Accountability).

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?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter

I would love to see the 2 percent point income tax increase expire in 2014. It depends upon how successful the general assembly is in 2013 (My first year in office) at righting the ship and establishing a balanced and sustainable financial plan for the State of Illinois.

Pierog

The 2011 legislature barely passed an income tax rate increase that temporarily raises the tax from 3 to 5 percent; corporate taxes were increase to 7 percent from its previous 4.8 percent. The tax increase is coupled with strict 2 percent limits on spending growth. If the legislature spends above those limits, the tax increase will automatically be canceled. After four years, the rate drops to 3.75 percent. I support the terms and limits of this tax increase.

Do you support any changes to the corporate income tax rate? Do you support any other changes to the state's business tax structure?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter

I don't believe we can lower any tax rate until we find a way to meet our current expenses. Once all our bills are paid on time and as agreed we will have more flexibility in our decisions.

Pierog

Repealing the current corporate income tax increase would cost the state at least $800 million a year. There are more ways to encourage Illinois businesses than simply a reduction of corporate income tax rates or additional workers compensation reform to encourage business development. For example, the Illinois Manufacturers' Association suggested capping the tax paid for their utility usage. I support the creation of bi-partisan committee which would include legislatures and members of the business community, and labor to consider the needs and the issues surrounding the development of a healthy business environment in tandem with a fiscally healthy Illinois. By working together key solutions would be identified, developed and implemented.

What should the state government do to create a more favorable business climate and to promote job growth?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter

We have already started taking steps in the right direction with the Advantage Illinois. This program provides an opportunity for growth in small business and entrepreneurism. I also believe the treasurer should invest state funds in Illinois businesses. We should keep Illinois State money in Illinois. The Illinois pension funds and college savings programs should be invested in programs like Advantage Illinois that promote local businesses. Infrastructure Improvement will also play a key role in creating jobs and increasing efficiency of small businesses. Improving railroads, bridges, highways and the other failing infrastructures in this state will help to increase business productivity. Better transportation will make for better business.

Pierog

Increasing Investment in the Employer Training Investment Program, which provides a grant to industry to upgrade workers' skills increases productivity, reduces costs, and improves quality. This successful program has recently been cut by 70% over the past six years.
Help small technology companies in information technology and biotechnology locate the capital they need to expand. Illinois's research universities are a natural incubator for these business which need an the ability to grow so that job growth can develop in this high impact area.
Expand rail transportation and invest in the capacity of Illinoi's intermodal facilities which will alleviate freight congestion and foster economic development.

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?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter

Borrowing to pay these bills is not an option as the state has proved they can not pay the bills they have. We need to put a moratorium on any new spending and divert all possible new revenue sources such as gambling expansion towards paying our existing bills.

Pierog

Illinois FY12 budget has already recommended additional funding cuts for its social service agencies pushing Illinois' funding for social service programs as one of the lowest in the nation, perhaps the lowest. When the state cuts one dollar of spending on human services, it causes the loss of $1.36 of economic activity. The state also accounts for a mere estimated 30% of funding for schools. Property taxes are local rather than state-based revenue, which means that where a child lives can often determine whether she has access or not to a good school.
Rather than assuming it is recommended that Springfield use the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability which has been noted for its accuracy for revenue projections.
Identify unnecessary revenues from the $2.3 billion projected for F12, assigned to statutory transfers that are made annually from the General Funds into special state funds.
Illinois should avoid spending $600 million dollars to accelerate a business tax break for capital purchases by decoupling Illinois from the federal law as all but 18 other states have.

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?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter

I believe that the General Assembly negotiating contracts with state labor unions violates the constitution of the State of Illinois and the separation of powers. I believe it is the executive branch's responsibility to negotiate contracts with state employees that are not directly working for the general assembly.

Pierog

As fiscal concern embrace the legislature overt reactions to funding issues often ensue, this is such a case. I question this resolution since the negotiating of contracts is the responsibility of the Governor and not the legislature.

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?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter

I support a Chicago casino. It would provide jobs and increase the states tax revenue. I am open to debate on the possibility of slot machines at the airports and race tracks.

Pierog

I support the expansion of a casino in Chicago. I also support our horse racing industry and would consider placing a limited amount of slot machines at the race tracks to help improve the revenue stream for that distressed industry.

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?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter

As long as the corporations, PAC's and super PAC's have no real contribution limits the state party leaders should not be limited on what they can contribute. I would not seek any changes in the state campaign laws. I don't see any real effective way to limit contributions uniformly.

Pierog

Did not respond

Would you back a constitutional amendment to shift from a flat income tax to a progressive income tax system?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter

I have no position at this time. I am very hesitant to increase taxes when Illinois recently raised the income tax by 66%.

Pierog

Currently the tax burden is inequitable placing a higher actual dollar value on lower incomes than higher incomes. I would consider a progressive tax proposal, but would have to review the actual legislation before I could make an informed decision.

Do you have a plan to adequately fund schools and reform the property tax system that results in inequities?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter

There is no easy answer to this question. Until the state accounting systems and budget are under control, there is no way to produce a plan that would fix either of these major issues. Just to preserve school funding at our current spending level the Governor is proposing a 9% cut to all other departments. We need to attract new businesses and grow the economy of Illinois. It's going to be a long road to recovery. We need to remain persistent and dedicated to the education of our future generations.

Pierog

The state must take on additional responsibility for the funding of Illinois' schools, raising its minimum investment in our children's education from 30% to 50%.
It is a promise that we cannot afford not to keep.

What is your view on gay marriage?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Hunter
  • [ + ]
    Pierog
Hunter

I stand for equal protection under the law. That includes GLBT individuals and couples.

Pierog

I support civil unions, and I would support equitable tax similar to that of marred couples on indiivduals who enter into this legal relation.

The race
The candidates
Steven L. Hunter

Not pictured:
Corinne M. Pierog

The district
Loading...
Loading...
Latest News Videos
© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.

Comments  Click here to view or make a comment