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Illinois Senate District 29, 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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    Morrison
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    Sumption
Morrison
Birthdate: 12/17/2956
Occupation: Township of West Deerfield / Township Supervisor
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Joe Morrison

Education:

Knox College, Galesburg, IL 1978 B.A. Political Science

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Highland Park Hospital Community Advisory Council: 2006 to present.

Deerfield Food Pantry: President

Southeast Lake County Faith-in-Action: Board member from 2005 to present. (Faith-in-Action is an interfaith organization that provides volunteers to go into the homes of the elderly or frail.)

Deerfield Rotary Club: Member from 2001 through the present.

National Junior Disability Championships 2010: Julie organized an evening of celebration with Benny the Bull, an Olympic athlete, a live band and food for 200 athletes, families, and coaches during this event.

Northern Illinois Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse (NICASA): Through the Deerfield Rotary Club, Julie organized a back-to-school program for children of those in the program to receive new shoes, school supplies, and haircuts.

Deerfield Manpower Commission: Member from 1986 to 2010, past chairperson

Other organizations: Township Officials of Illinois, member, Deerfield Community Emergency Fund, Officer; 10th Congressional Democrats and Independents, member; West Deerfield Township Democratic Organization, member; Holy Cross Catholic Church, parishioner.

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

In1997, I was elected West Deerfield Township Supervisor, a position I still hold. Prior to my work as Township Supervisor, I served in the Governor's Office of Manpower and Human Development. Later, I was appointed to the Governor's Statewide Advisory Council to the Department of Children and Family Services, where I served from 1986 until my election to Township Supervisor in 1996 (I served as Chairperson of the committee from 1994-1996). I also had the privilege to intern with the Illinois Energy Resources Commission, as well as the Illinois House Policy Staff through a partnership with Sangamon State University

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

N/A

Sumption
Birthdate: Did not respond
Occupation: Business Consultant/Self-Employed
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Kara

Education:

I attended public schools growing up in River Falls, WI. I earned a BA degree from DePauw University (Greencastle, IN) with a double major in Economics and Mathematics. I also earned an MBA degree from Columbia Business School (New York) with a concentration in Finance.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Grace United Methodist Church - Lake Bluff

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

Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Tom. Daschle

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

None

Campaign information
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    Morrison
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    Sumption
Morrison

Campaign headquarters: PO Box 646 Deerfield, IL 60015
Website: JulieMorrisonforStateSenate.com
Campaign manager:
Campaign budget: Based on my campaign's initial research, we have established a budget of $50,000 for the Primary Election. We are hopeful that this number affords us the resources we need to successfully deliver our message to the voters of the 29th District.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
Citizens for Garrett -- $10,000
Morrison & Morrison, Ltd - $10,000
Christine Shaw - $5,000
Senator Heather Steans - $3,500
Bill Brandt/Development Specialists, Inc - $2,500

Sumption

Campaign headquarters: P.O. Box 134
Website: www.sumptionforstatesenate.com
Campaign manager:
Campaign budget: I anticipate my campaign budget will be in line with what has historically been spent on state senate primary campaigns.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
As of the date of this submission, the largest contributors to my campaign have been family and friends with the largest single contribution being $750.

What are your top priorities for your district?
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    Morrison
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Morrison

My priority for the 29th District is to encourage job growth and expand opportunities for economic development. If elected, I will eagerly work to enable businesses to achieve employment growth. I would like to see increased partnerships with local colleges and university to create incubators for new business development in the region. This provides resources and assets to emerging business, as well as valuable, relevant training for students and new employees.

Sumption

My top priorities for the district will be job creation and economic development, improving education and funding for education at all levels, and constituent service.

I will use my 17 years of experience working in the business and finance sectors to create a economic environment in the district that will attract new businesses and cultivate growth of existing businesses. This can be done by improving access to capital for small and medium sized companies, assisting them with access to new domestic and international markets, and working with them identify the talented work force needed to grow their businesses.

Education is one of my highest priorities for the 29th district and all of Illinois. Our children will need the best education available to effectively compete in the global economy of the 21st Century. Therefore, we must provide the funding and resources needed to develop strong basic skills in early years (K – 12) and a strong university system and technical schools for young people to develop and refine skills for high wage jobs of the 21st Century.

Finally, I will work to provide outstanding constituent service to citizens of the 29th District to help them access those state services that will best meet their needs. As a legislative assistant to Senator Daschle, my responsibilities included providing constituents with excellent constituent service, helping them navigate various federal government agencies and departments to access federal government services. Finally, I have worked in a number of private sector services businesses, and I have extensive experience delivering high-quality services to business clients. I will apply those skills to ensure that citizens in the 29th District receive top-quality constituent service.

What is your top priority for the state?
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Morrison

The State of Illinois is faced with an obvious financial crisis, and it will be my priority to ensure that substantial changes are made in order to avoid more painful budget deficit. Related to this, I believe we must work to reform the current tax code and resolve the long-term structural deficit problem. I would like to see the development of a strategic 3-year plan for our state's budget that includes forecasts for future tax revenue, a prioritization of spending as well as methodologies for paying down existing and anticipated debt. Additionally, I believe that it is critical that we also address the paramount need for Human Service Programs in our state and find ways provide the services and care necessary to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

Sumption

My top priorities for the state include restoring fiscal discipline and balancing the state budget, identify a long-term sustainable solution to the state pension mess that is fair to both state employees and taxpayers, improving communications, transportation and energy infrastructure, and protecting our environment.

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

Throughout my career, I have been involved in various government-related activities, functions and positions. My broad range of experience in government finance, regulation, and services uniquely distinguishes my candidacy. I have a genuine interest in the communities and constituencies I seek to represent and have a demonstrated commitment to improving the 29th District.

As West Deerfield Township Supervisor for the past 14 years, I have seen first-hand the needs of residents and have worked to develop many innovative programs through intergovernmental cooperation, collaboration between the public and private sector, and direct partnerships with community stakeholders. Last fall, for example, the Township of West Deerfield partnered with over 20 agencies and organizations, ranging from local governments to private enterprise to deliver an employment open house, titled “Options and Opportunities: Making Connections with Resource
Providers,” to area residents seeking employment assistance. The forum was so successful that we will be hosting another this year. These types of partnerships are creative ways to deliver programs and services to residents while strengthening community relationships with local businesses and organizations, and I would love to continue to grow these opportunities across the 29th District.

Sumption

I have seventeen years of business and finance experience working with companies of all sizes as well as individual and institutional investors. I understand what drives economic growth and the policies that are needed to create jobs and grow our economy. Having worked in the private sector, I understand the importance of discipline budgeting process and careful evaluation of spending priorities that ensure all financial resources are put to work to produce the highest return possible. We need greater fiscal discipline in Illinois and a more rigorous approach to evaluating how tax dollars are spent in order to provide necessary services that meet citizen needs in the most efficient, low-cost manner possible. I will apply my years of experience and introduce a fresh perspective to develop policies that will achieve those results. Finally, and most importantly, I have the highest level of integrity and honesty, a characteristic that is an absolute requirement for holding any public office.

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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    Morrison
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Morrison

I believe that such a measure offers a thoughtful solution regarding how we might resolve the looming pension crisis; however, it belongs in a larger conversation that requires additional discourse. Before supporting such measure I would require that all parties involved first have access and input into the discussion regarding the design of the system. It would be my goal that we could find a resolution and overcome the risk of pension insolvency without having to consider Police and Fire in a reduced system. To ensure a fair and lasting solution, all parties with public pensions must be brought into the discussion.

Sumption

I believe that the state should keep the commitments that it has made to its employees, but I also believe that abuses of the state pension system should be stopped immediately. Contributions to the state's pension system should have been made by that state legislature every year, and the fact that politicians did not fund those commitments every year is immoral. I will fight to ensure those kinds of irresponsible practices by politicians are stopped, that fiscal discipline is restored in Illinois, and that commitments that are made to state employees will be kept.

I believe that future changes to the state pension system should be based on a couple of fundamental principals: Fairness – a pension system that is fair to both state employees (cost and benefits offered) and the state's taxpayers (cost born by taxpayers); and Sustainability – a system that is designed with benefits and funding sources that will be sustainable over the long-term through all economic cycles. In terms of designing a future state pension system, there are a few points to consider. First, the pension benefit offered to state employees and teachers needs to provide some (emphasis) incentive that will attract talented people to those positions because we need good people in state government and in our schools – people who are competent and motivated - in order to have efficient delivery of state services and excellent education provided to our children. Second, the state pension system needs to be fair to the state's tax payers who will help fund the system. Third, the pension system needs to have a benefits structure (no extraordinary promises) that can be realistically funded into the future through all economic cycles and with changing demographics (i.e. people living longer). Finally, the funding sources for the future pension system should be defined and committed to ensure that benefits promised are fully funded every year to prevent any repeat of the irresponsible fiscal practices by politicians that created the current pension mess. Those funding sources will include both state employees and the state. In conclusion, I think that there are elements of SB512 that can be part of a long-term state pension plan, but more work needs to be done to accomplished the goals outlined above.

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

Did not respond

Sumption

I have outlined an approach to a long-term pension system in my response to question 12.

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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Morrison

Yes, with the understanding that a graduated tax be implemented upon its expiration.

Sumption

The increase in income taxes was driven by the huge state structural budget deficits here in Illinois in recent years. Objective budget analysis by most third parties generally concludes that in order to balance any budget, some new revenue is needed and some budget items must be cut. While Illinois has been a historically low tax state, any increase in income taxes in never a welcomed solution. Ideally, the income tax increase could be left to expire in 2014 if the Illinois economy will have rebounded by then and there is an expanded, growing tax base that would provide sufficient funding at the old tax rate for state government services demanded by the state's residents. At this time, there's no way to know what the condition of Illinois economy will be at that time and what government services will be demanded by residents. I do believe that state budget deficit spending should cease, and that may require the additional revenue provided by tax increase. However, I believe that any extension of the tax increase must include two additional measures. First, I believe that there must be meaningful spending cuts made that will contribute to balancing the state budget. Second, there should be measures put in place that impose fiscal discipline on the state legislature to prevent wasteful spending in the future. Without meaningful steps to cut the state budget and measures that force fiscal discipline by the state legislature, it is unfair to expect state taxpayers to pay more taxes for irresponsible behavior by state politicians. Therefore, the focus of the state legislature over the next two years should be on getting the state's fiscal house in order to provide for a stable budget environment in which the tax increase could expire without having a negative impact on services provided or continued deficit spending. I would support measures that cut wasteful spending, impose fiscal discipline on the state legislature, and use rigorous cost/benefit analysis of major budget items to ensure that hard earned state taxpayer money is spent prudently only on necessary services.

As discussed above, if economic conditions improve in Illinois and disciplined budget cuts are made, such events could provide the conditions that would make it fiscally prudent (from a state budgeting perspective) to allow tax increase to expire. Therefore, if elected, I would focus on two efforts to achieve these conditions. First, I would focus on job creation and economic development because an expanding employment base and growing economy will lead to an expanding tax base and produce more tax revenue for the state. Second, I would focus on meaningful cost cutting in the state budget that would include eliminating wasteful spending, improving efficiencies, and taking a hard look at all services provided (using cost/benefit analysis) to determine which are essential (and can be afforded) and which should be eliminated.

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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    Morrison
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Morrison

I believe that there are ways we can create an effective tax-structure that balances our state's ability to maintain and attract business. We must ensure, however, that any changes made to the tax structure that benefit corporate interests offers some assurances to the state in return. Further, I believe that there should be greater disclosure regarding the tax preferences and incentives that are offered to businesses. Currently, I feel that large corporations are receiving the bulk of these considerations, and would work to offer more incentive opportunities to medium and small businesses. North Carolina, for example, has a very fair, transparent and open process that invites all business, regardless of size, to apply for tax incentives. The state of Washington publishes tax incentive disclosure reports on an easily accessible website. Both are models I would work to see replicated in Illinois.

Sumption

I would fight to ensure that Illinois remains competitive on a regional, national and international basis in terms of income taxes, regulatory requirements, access to capital, availability of a well trained work force, and access to all markets. Most corporate income taxes are paid by large corporations (small companies are generally organized to provide income pass-thru to owners who are taxed at the individual income tax rate). Currently, Illinois's business tax structure is competitive relative to surrounding states and it should remain that way. I would support tax incentives for companies to invest in research and develop as that kind of investment spending leads to long-term economic growth. There should also be tax incentives for growth initiatives by small businesses. Finally, there should be incentives for investment new ventures in economic sectors that have long-term growth potential, such as technology, alternative energy and health care.

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

I believe that increased tax incentives and regional “incubators” are obvious steps we can take to encourage employers to locate their businesses our state. However, I think we can do more to invest in job-training and the creation of transitional job programs in effort to increase and strengthen our existing skilled labor force. Further, we need to continue to make all of Illinois – not just our urban centers -- an attractive – and affordable – place for an ever-growing talent pool of workers. Strengthening our states' large, talented and culturally diverse workforce is vital to economic growth and will make us an attractive option for potential employers.

Sumption

The state government should have the follow policies to promote a favorable business climate. First, there need to be policies that facilitate greater access to capital for small and medium sized businesses. Capital is essential for small business growth, and it must be made available, through prudent investing and lending practices, to growth that sector of the state economy. Second, there need to be policies that promote investment in economic sectors with long-term growth potential such as technology, alternative energy, and health care. Third, Illinois needs to continue to promote improvements education at all levels because strong educational institutions will attract businesses to our region and produce a highly educated work force that is equipped for higher wage jobs in the 21st Century. Finally, the state should explore selected public private partnerships in long term assets that are needed to facilitate economic growth – investment in such areas as communications, transportation, and energy infrastructure.

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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Morrison

I believe that if the state is able to implement a strategic multi-year plan, as I briefly outlined above, and is able to develop a method for payment that prioritizes spending and increases revenues, then we would be able to soundly reduce our need to increase borrowing. However, when and where it is proven that borrowing will save the state considerable money over time within the framework of a long-term budget plan, I would support actions to put our state's finances on the firmest footing possible.

Sumption

Currently, the state is paying higher interest to service provider that it owes money to that it would pay in interest if it were to borrow the money in the capital markets. Therefore, to continue with these unpaid bills on the state books is costing the state more money than it should. The state should borrow short term (no longer than five years) with a level amortization of the debt (no back end balloon payments) and pay all the outstanding bills now. That money would immediately be re-circulated into the Illinois economy, producing a multiplier effect that would provide a short-term economic boost to our local economy. However, I think it is unfortunate that the state is in this position, and if elected I would fight to prevent such poor budgetary practices from occurring in the future.

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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Morrison

I believe that General Assembly should not have a role in negotiating contacts and that this is a function best performed by the executive branch of state government.

Sumption

I think the state legislature should stay out those negotiations because of conflict of interest issues.

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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Morrison

I support limited gaming expansion in Illinois and would support a Chicago casino.

Sumption

I do not support the proposals that the state legislature made in 2011 to expand gambling in Illinois. Those proposals would have permitted more gaming capacity than the Chicago area market could have realistically absorbed at this time (especially in a weak economic environment) without having a significant negative impact on existing local casinos (as well as made it challenging for the new properties to perform well). When gaming markets that are overbuilt with more capacity than can be supported by their local economies, they become overly competitive and lead to underperformance, and sometimes failure, of casinos in those markets. And when businesses and industries struggle because of short-sighted policy decisions, it erodes confidence in state policy makers by the business community and investors and lenders who provide the capital needed to finance economic growth. That lack of confidence by business and capital markets not only impacts an industry in question (in this case the gaming industry), but it also impacts general business climate in the state because it creates uncertainty (i.e. what industry with the state legislature target next?), and the business community hates uncertainty. Finally, any proposal for expanding gaming in the state should be accompanied by a market study available to the public that outlines the potential for growth and potential impacts on existing properties and proposed new gaming operations.

I think at this time, there are enough casinos in the state, and state policy makers should focus their attention on other industries for economic development. For example, I think that the state legislature should focus on promoting long-term growth industries, such as technology and alternative energy, as long term engines for economic growth in Illinois because those industries require higher skilled labor and pay higher wages (the gaming industry produces service jobs) and will lead to greater long-term economic growth, which will expand the tax base in the state that will ultimate produce more tax revenue to fund necessary state services.

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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Morrison

While the campaign finance reform measures that took effect in 2011 were a step in the right direction, I believe there is more that can be done to increase the transparency of money in politics, specifically how Leadership PAC funds are spent. And, while increased contribution limits are to some extent helpful, I think it is more important that sources of funds are subject to more detailed disclosure requirement, specifically those that come from corporate entities. However, since we have yet to complete an entire election cycle with the new campaign finance reform laws in place, I believe that at the conclusion of this cycle we might be able to better assess the problems that exist.

Sumption

I think there need to be limits on campaign donations that would create a level the playing field for legitimate candidates who want to seek public office.

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

I believe that we need to move to a fairer, more progressive graduated tax system and would support efforts to do so.

Sumption

Yes.

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

I will look forward to sitting down with experience legislators and educators to discuss this issue. Additionally, I will revenue and evaluate how other stats fund their schools and try to see if there is an existing model that might be applicable to Illinois.

Sumption

Funding for our schools and the highest quality education for our children should be a top priority for all of Illinois. Our children will compete in a truly global economy and their most important tools with be those developed by top quality education. I believe we need to review the current system of how schools are funded through property taxes to address the inequities that exist in such a system. I would support policies that provide more equitable funding to schools that are not well served by the property tax system. I also believe we should engage the private sector to provide financial support for selected schools that have urgent funding needs. Education is the backbone of our economy and our society, and we need to ensure that schools are adequately funded.

What is your view on gay marriage?
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Morrison

Illinois' passage of the Civil Unions Bill was a first step to guaranteeing equality for all of our states' citizens and was happy to see it pass. If elected, I will work hard to end discrimination in our state and ensure equal access and equal rights for Illinoisans.

Sumption

I support civil unions that give all the legal rights that heterosexual married couples have to homosexual couples who make the same legal commitment to each other that heterosexual couples make to each other.

The race
The candidates
Julie A. Morrison
Milton J. Sumption
The district
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