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Illinois House District 58, Republican 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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    Neerhof
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    Turelli
Neerhof
Birthdate: 9/10/1958
Occupation: Physician, NorthShore University HealthSystem
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Betty

Education:

BA Dordt College
DO Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine
Internship and Residency in Ob Gyn, Chicago Oseopathic Medical Center
Fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Pennsylvania Hospital

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Illinois State Medical Society
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine
Society of Gynecologic Investigation
Docs 4 Patient Care

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

None

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

None

Turelli
Birthdate: 10/1/1971
Occupation: Real Estate/LGT Realty, Inc.
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Ken

Education:

I am a graduate of an Illinois public grade school and High School. I also earned my B.S. in Political Science from the University of Illinois – Urbana, where I graduated with honors and Distinction. I also received an M.A. in Education, with certificates in secondary History & Political Science from De Paul University – Chicago.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

NSBAR (North Shore – Barrington Association of Realtors), NAR (National Assoc. of Realtors),
IAR (Illinois Association of Realtors)
Lake Forest – Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce
District 67 A.P.T (Association of Parents and Teachers)
University of Illinois – Chicago Illini Club
Lake Forest – Lake Bluff International Club
Women's Republican Club of Lake Forest – Lake Bluff
Lake County Republican Central Committee
Lake County Republican Federation
Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority

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

I was employed from 1998-2001 as a public high school teacher through Grayslake HS district 127. Currently, I serve in two elected and/or appointed capacities: 1) as a board member of the Parks and Recreation Department for the City of Lake Forest; and, 2) as an elected Republican township precinct committeeman.

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

I was employed from 1998-2001 as a public high school teacher through Grayslake HS district 127 and with LFHS District 115 as a substitute teacher. My mother is currently a part time teacher at District 67 school district.

Campaign information
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    Turelli
Neerhof

Campaign headquarters: #134, 825 S. Waukegan Road, A8, Lake Forest, IL 60045
Website: NeerhofForIllinois.com
Campaign manager: Mick Paskiewicz
Campaign budget: In addition to investing some of my personal money in this campaign, we have a broad base of donors and will have enough for success in both the Primary and General Elections.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
I am proud to have a broad base of support. This information is available from the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Turelli

Campaign headquarters: P.O. Box 902, Lake Forest, IL 60045
Website: Www.LaurenTurelli.com
Campaign manager: Mark Shaw
Campaign budget: Not for public disclosure.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
See D-2's filed with Illinois State Board of Elections.

What are your top priorities for your district?
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    Turelli
Neerhof

In Springfield, my top priorities will be:
•Reversing the Democrats' 66% tax increase
•Keeping taxes low for individuals and businesses
•Cutting fees and regulations on small business that cost Illinoisans their jobs
•Reforming Illinois' public pension systems
•Reforming healthcare to make affordable health insurance available for all Illinoisans

Turelli

The 58th District is not unique in its suffering. We have had our share of job losses, revenue constraints, foreclosures and short sales; and seen businesses that have chosen to relocate to neighboring states or who have closed their doors for good. My priorities would, therefore, reflect those needs. The 58th District's eastern boundary is Lake Michigan, which requires solid environmental protection for our water, bluffs, ravines and beachfronts. I would also advocate for our public schools and the need to maintain local control. Residents of the 58th district have also seen their property taxes increase along with the temporary State increase in individual and corporate income taxes. Therefore, additional priorities include job creation, business expansion, tax relief and infrastructure improvements.

What is your top priority for the state?
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    Turelli
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We must reverse the Democrats 66% tax increase on individuals and the almost 50% tax increase on businesses. We must also reform Medicaid, which has grown to be our top expenditure in the state budget.

Turelli

Illinois needs to get back to work and I will work tirelessly for pro-growth business policies that create jobs. However, we also need to find long-term solutions for pensions and a reduction in wasteful spending in order to fix our budget short falls, which did not evaporate with the new, temporary income tax increases. I also want to work towards school choice for Illinois' worst performing schools and maintain local control of curriculum and finances. Ethics reform is also a high priority, with meaningful campaign finance reform, term limits and a non-partisan redistricting panel that would draw future legislative boundaries.

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

The biggest expense in our state budget is Medicaid and it must be reformed for the 21st century. I have been active in efforts to pursue responsible health care reform for the last several years and know what is necessary to make Medicaid more affordable and efficient. I would be the only physician in the Illinois House if I were elected, thus making me uniquely qualified to work to reform Medicaid and ensure it serves the needs of those covered by it.

Turelli

I am not a politician, nor have I been a government employee. I am a small business owner and licensed Illinois real estate Broker, who, for the last ten years, has been working with people and negotiating residential, investment and commercial real estate contracts for a living. My specialties are conflict resolution, property investment counseling and helping folks fulfill the American Dream of homeownership. I am also a partner in a property management company, representing landlords and acting as a liaison with their tenants. At the same time, I have devoted my time to various local organizations, charities and my children's schools. I have extensive budgetary experience, dealing with capital costs, revenue streams and unfunded projects.
Prior to my career in real estate, I was a public high school History teacher and coach, curriculum advisor and served as the local union liaison to the national NEA convention. Due to my hard work, teaching style and dedication to the students, I earned a nomination for a Golden Apple Award. However, before my careers in education and real estate, I worked in pension consulting at a time when major US corporations began to convert their defined benefit pension funds into defined contribution funds. My experiences in business, pension finance, education and the community make me uniquely qualified to understand constituent concerns and represent them fairly in the General Assembly.

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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    Turelli
Neerhof

Yes. We must look at all aspects of our budget and find way to decrease expenditures while ensuring that Illinois citizens are still provided with the services needed while keeping our state out of bankruptcy. Legislation addressing pension reform must honor commitments made to employees to date while transforming to a defined contribution program going forward.

Turelli

Yes, as I have previous work experience in the pension field, I do support the major tenets of SB512, as the five pension systems have a colelctive unfunded liability of more than $83 billions. There must be comprehensive changes to the current systems for retirement age, vesting requirements and capping maximum pension benefits. The longer the State pushes off reforming the pension system, the more money we will need for servicing the debt on past pension bonds. If our state legislature does nothing, we will see cuts in programs and services that will directly impact education and healthcare services or result in a default.

SB 512 provides clear, viable options for public employees in order to fix the pension problems, while protecting the benefits which employees have already earned and without making any changes for current retiree benefits. Some may choose to stay in their current benefit plan but pay more towards their pension or they can choose a lesser benefit and pay less. There is also the option of a defined contribution plan if the employee chooses.

Public safety employees put their lives on the line every day to protect all of us. The job is stressful and physically demanding. While SB 512 is great bill for the majority of employees I don't believe that public safety employees should be included in a bill.

Given the scope of our state's fiscal mess, every benefit, from cell phones to pensions, for every state employee, including state legislators, should be up for review. However, public safety employees put their lives on the line every day to protect all of us. SB 512 is a great bill for the majority of employees, but I am hesitant about including public safety employees in this bill.

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

Did not respond

Turelli

N/A

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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    Turelli
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Neither. I would immediately vote to reverse this tax increase on Illinois taxpayers.

Turelli

Yes, it should expire in 2014. Spending has increased by 39% in the last decade while population has only grown by 6 – 7%. Illinois has a spending problem, not a revenue generating problem. Higher taxes should not be the state's default response to a budget deficit. The General Assembly needs to make a sincere effort to cut wasteful, redundant, and obsolete programs and spending instead of further burdening Illinois families and businesses with tax increases.

I would have voted NO on raising income tax on working families when they can afford it the least. It is fiscally irresponsible and morally reprehensible to take more money out of citizen's paychecks to pay for the excesses of government when government refuses to make any reforms or cuts to spending.

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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    Turelli
Neerhof

I would vote to immediately reverse the tax increase placed on businesses. When businesses have lower taxes, they are able to help grow our economy and provide more jobs throughout our state. Going forward, we must work to keep taxes as low as possible on both individuals and on businesses.

Turelli

When the Democrat-led General Assembly raised the corporate income tax rate last year, they discounted the unemployment rate in Illinois at 10%, which is 1.4% higher than the nationwide average. Corporations and their jobs are leaving Illinois to go to more favorable business climates. In order to be competitive with these other states, the General Assembly needs to reduce the corporate income tax rate.

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

1. Eliminate the Democrats' tax increase and keep taxes as low as possible.
2. Repeal unnecessary regulations.
3. Workers compensation reform.

Turelli

As a business woman, I believe that businesses create jobs, not government. In order for businesses to do so, government needs to get out of the way and encourage stability through more decent costs of doing business. Given the current, higher corporate tax rate, one of the highest workers compensation rates in the country, high unemployment insurance and high fuel taxes, the current business climate is horrible. If we are truly concerned about job creation, we need to find ways to entice businesses to come to Illinois, stay open, and employ more people.
In short, we need to reduce the cost of doing business in this state by restructuring workman's compensation and unemployment insurance and by crafting entrepreneur-friendly and pro-growth policies.
We should also consider the expansion of enterprise zones and tax incentive programs such as EDGE. Once companies begin to hire new workers, the state will benefit from those new revenues. Another component to reducing business costs would be an easing of the restrictions on businesses' flexibility in purchasing group health insurance coverage. As mentioned earlier, pensions need to be reformed along with balancing the budget by cutting spending and enacting meaningful reforms.

A second idea centers around public-private partnerships in all areas, from research and development of new products or transportation projects to education and the training/re-training of employees. Collaboration breeds innovation, which in turn, could reap huge rewards for our universities and businesses. Some of these historical examples of public-private partnerships can be seen at the University of Illinois, it's fine agricultural programs and the resulting growth of seed companies, revolutions in fertilizer and production. Similarly, our universities today are global leaders in medical advances, technology and renewable energies. Perhaps the last category has the greatest potential for growth, given our natural resources and a push for energy independence. In the same manner, the state could reallocate redundant funds from state universities to junior colleges as a way to train/retrain our workforce through the vocational and technical programs. Additional funding would come from the business partners and potentially, reallocated funds.

The aforementioned idea, however, requires capital, which becomes a third idea in and of itself. The state should utilize grant writers to seek out federal funds for research and development projects which, in turn, would attract the brightest minds to our universities. The resulting synergy between innovation, education and capital could yield tremendous financial rewards for the state and the potential creation of our own Silicon Valley. I further propose the investigation of utilizing state pension funds as needed venture capital to fuel innovation, attract entrepreneurs, invest in Illinois-based companies, and put Illinoisians back to work. This has worked with the California pension system and has resulted in massive revenues for the state. Another example of such success can be seen in Ohio, through it's “Third Frontier” program, which has created hundreds of new corporations and billions of dollars in investments. This type of investment may also have revenue benefits for our pension system and it's future solvency.

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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    Turelli
Neerhof

1. Decrease spending by enacting Medicaid and Pension reform, our two greatest current cost drivers.
2. Audit budget expenditures and eliminate wasteful spending.
3. Eliminate the loopholes to the balanced budget in the Illinois constitution that lawmakers have been exploiting for years.

Turelli

We need to pay off our bills, even if it is incremental over time. Otherwise, the interest owed compounds and our debt service grows more expensive. In general, I believe that the General Assembly's repeated decisions to borrow money to pay its bills and pension obligations, is irresponsible fiscal policy. It has the effect of shifting the burden to already struggling businesses who provide services to the State and various units of Illinois government, resulting in the nearly $4 billion in unpaid bills.

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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    Neerhof
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    Turelli
Neerhof

State labor unions should not be negotiating with the lawmakers that are dependent on the unions for their re-election.

Turelli

If it could be demonstrated that the General Assembly, as a collective body, could be unswayed by union influence or PAC money, then I would consider it. Of course, it makes sense for the General Assembly to be involved in the process since they are also responsible for creating an annual budget, which affects the contracts and benefits of all state employees. Currently, Governor Quinn is the sole negotiator of contracts with labor unions. He has repeatedly shown that he cannot restrain himself when it comes to spending, which has resulted in special deals impacting an already strained Illinois budget. For example, during the 2010 election, the Governor agreed to suspending cost cutting employee layoffs and facility closures just two days after AFSCME endorsed Quinn for Governor.

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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    Turelli
Neerhof

I do not support expanded gambling in any form.

Turelli

There have been several proposals in the General Assembly in the recent past that have increased the various forms of gaming in order to provide additional revenues for a statewide capital construction bill. Illinois has a spending problem and we need to create permanent revenue streams through solid, systemic change. Gambling expansion is a temporary band-aid to further avoid making difficult decisions. We already have 10 casinos, horse racing, off track betting, and soon, video poker, making the market for gaming is saturated. The unknown and uncalculated social costs associated with gambling are also worth consideration.

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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    Neerhof
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    Turelli
Neerhof

I oppose caps on contributions because it violates an individual's First Amendment right to free speech. I support a more transparent system with real time reporting of campaign contributions.

Turelli

I support limits on financial contributions from party and legislative leaders and committees, as money equals power in Illinois. Legislators should be more independent from their legislative leaders and special interest groups. In order to do so, I would also consider supporting limits to contributions from donors outside of a particular candidate's district to avoid undue influence. Without limiting how much legislative leaders can donate allows both parties to artificially sustain candidacies of those politicians that may not otherwise garner enough support. I am disappointed that the bill that would have limited contributions from legislative leaders did not pass, as it was a good start towards needed reform. I am further dismayed that the Sunshine Commission's findings were not adopted by the Governor or the General Assembly. I believe that other measures of campaign finance reform should include real-time reporting of campaign contributions via an online system that increases transparency. It would also engender greater accountability in following the money streams to see how each dollar is spent. I do not believe that the public financing of campaigns is the answer either, as our tax dollars have better uses.

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

No, I would not support Illinois switching to a progressive tax system. Our flat tax under the constitution is simple and fair to all taxpayers.

Turelli

I believe that passing a constitutional amendment would be extremely difficult as it would require the approval of the General Assembly and then, by the voters in the general election. The current Illinois Constitution provides that the Illinois income tax must be a flat tax, which was raised to 5% in January of 2011. I consider any change or proposal for a change from a flat tax to a graduated tax to be considered an increase in taxes and I would not support it.

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

The fundamental problem with our education system is not lack of funding, but a lack of competition. I support vouchers for families with children in failing schools. I believe in school choice as a proven method to improve the education our children receive. I also support increasing charter schools as well as online learning programs.

Turelli

One of the main reasons that Illinois can't fund schools properly is the inability to pass a balanced budget over the years. In order to make education funding a priority, legislators need to deal with tough issues like Medicaid and pension reform in order to free up the much needed dollars to go towards education.

The property tax system in Illinois should be changed to provide a more consistent and predictable structure for homeowners in Illinois. As a former high school teacher, I would like to see State tax dollars need to flow from the State general and categorical funds directly to the schools for the benefit of the student, their instruction and other services. State education funds should be allocated on a predefined, per pupil basis, with the local school board or council to determine how these dollars are spent. This would also allow for greater funding transparency.

What is your view on gay marriage?
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    Turelli
Neerhof

I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Turelli

The government should not be involved in restricting or promoting the personal lifestyle decisions of its citizens. However, I am willing to consider changes to estate planning, medical privacy issues and property ownership laws as it pertains to same-sex couples.

The race
The candidates
Mark G. Neerhof
Lauren G. Turelli
The district
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