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State House, District 16

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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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    Lang
Lou Lang
Political party: Democrat
Birthdate: 11/26/1949
Occupation: Attorney
Marital status: married
Spouse: Teri

Education:

U of Illinois, Urbana, BA with high honors in Political Science, 1971
DePaul U, College of Law, JD with high honors, 1974

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Chicago Bar Association
Illinois State Bar Association
Decalogue Society of Lawyers
B'nai Brith
Hadassah
National Organization for Women
and many others

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

State Representative since 1987

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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Lang

Campaign headquarters: 4119 Main, Skokie, IL 60076
Website: www.reploulang.com
Campaign manager: Bert Broooke
Campaign budget: $100,000 but will spend what I need to spend
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
In this campaign cycle since the Spring Primary---

1. Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois $10,000
2. Cottonwood Financial $10,000
3. Laborers Union $5,000
4. Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois $5,000
5. Henry Nicholas $5,000

some others at $5,000 as well

For incumbents: In either the fall veto session or in January, will you support a bill like SB1673? That bill cuts pension costs for four of five state pension systems by making state workers and retirees choose between keeping state-subsidized health insurance or an automatic 3 percent annual pension hike during retirement. Do you support the element of the bill that shifts employer pension costs from the state to local school districts?
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Lang

I support meaningful, fair and comprehensive changes in our pension system. The costs are eating dramatically into our ability to pay for other critical services and we must correct it. As we review the legislation proposed, it is imperative that we make sure that any plan we pass is CONSTITUTIONAL. In my judgment, SB1673 is neither comprehensive, nor Constitutional. It fails to be comprehensive as it does not reform all five state pension systems and does not reform them in like fashion. It fails the test of Constitutionality as, while it provides choices, those choices are diminished and reduced options. The Constitution says we cannot do that. While many believe we should do the politically expedient thing and let the courts decide, I am a practicing attorney who knows how to read and interpret the law. I have taken the oath of office 13 times and the first thing we do in that oath is to swear to uphold the Constitution. I am totallly committed to vote for a reform of the systems, but not at the expense of the most important legal document we have. In retrospect, it was a mistake to have the State paying school employer pension costs. To change it now, however, would create some real problems with either property tax increases or teacher layoffs, unless we do it very carefully. I might support a long and slow shift back, but it would be better if we found a carrot, along with the stick, to get school people to the table and find something to give to them as we dump these new costs on them.

If you don't support a bill like SB1673, what is your plan for rescuing the state's pension systems?
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Lang

We have to do what is Constitutional. We have to do what changes all five pension systems in like ways. We may have to accept changes that don't fully resolve the full measure of the problem. Ideas that ARE Constitutional include a later retirement date, to perhaps 67, a greater contribution into the system by active employees, diminished insurance benefits, and a longer, slower ramp up to perhaps 70% funding of the systems. The fix does NOT require that we get to 100% or even 85%.

For challengers or candidates for an open seat: If there is no action on pension reform in the fall veto session or in early January, would you support a bill like SB1673 in the next legislative session? That bill cuts pension costs for four of five state pension systems by making state workers and retirees choose between keeping state-subsidized health insurance or an automatic 3 percent annual pension hike during retirement. Do you support the element of the bill that shifts employer pension costs from the state to local school districts?
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Lang

Did not respond

If you don't support a bill like SB1673, what is your plan for rescuing the state's pension systems?
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Lang

Did not respond

For all candidates: Do you support the Medicaid reform package passed last spring, including $1.6 billion in cuts and rate reductions and an increase in the cigarette tax? What else, if anything, needs to done to ensure the health of the state's Medicaid system?
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Lang

I supported the Medicaid reform bill but did not support increased cigarette taxes. Seems to me that we continue to hit smokers over the head, over and over again. However, we lose sight of the fact that smokers are citizens who pay taxes just as non-smokers do. Tax policy should include even handedness and not simply picking out the least favored groups for unfair tax treatment. As for future changes, it is important that the General Assembly continue to be vigilant to cut out unnecessary or failed programs and find every dollar of waste.

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

It is far too early to answer this question. ALL members of the General Assembly and every candidate would like to say YES, but it is premature. We have no idea today what the economic, budget, and jobs picture will be for our State in two years. Many who answer this question will answer with an unqualified yes to this question. My view is that this is irresponsible at this time. If we are ABLE to let the tax increase expire and still provide for the citizens of our state, we should of course do so. Solving the pension issue will bear greatly on the final decision that we make in this area.

Do you support any changes to the corporate income tax rate? Do you support any other changes to the state's business tax structure? What should the state government do to create a more favorable business climate and to promote job growth?
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Lang

ALL tax code issues should be on the table for discussion is we are to have a meaningful and appropriate debate on tax reform, revenue, and the future of Illinois. Too many have had preconceived positions, without thought to anything but politics, on issues of corporate tax, progressive income tax, property tax, sales tax, etc. Lets get real and have elected officials stand down from the priority of elections and move to the priority of governing. I have learned that good governing IS good politics. While there has been much criticism regarding our business climate, there is some good news. Unemployment is down, while clearly we have a long way to go. Illinois has created more jobs than all of our surrounding states. Our budgets have been balanced, Due to workers comp reform, insurance rates are starting to come down. I chaired the job creation task force for two years. We have many ideas, such as targeted tax credits and less red tape for businesses and expedited permitting that will all help in this area. Much more needs to be done. We don't often enough take time talking to the business community about what will help them. I am beginning to do that in my own district , with excellent info being provided.

Do you support the gambling package Gov. Quinn vetoed at the end of August? If not, how could it be improved?
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Lang

I am the CHIEF SPONSOR AND AUTHOR of this vitally needed bill. It is about JOBS. My views on this bill are well known and public relative to bringing jobs to Illinois and stopping the flow of $ and people to Indiana and other surrounding states. I noted the Governor's comments with disappointment when he vetoed the bill. He was not really stating the facts. I have offered over 50 times to meet with the Governor to give him ANY changes he asked for on ethics. I think the bill is already very strong in this area but offered him more and HE WOULD NOT NEGOTIATE. In fact, we met two days before the bill passed and he would not even tell me then what changes he wanted. Even when he vetoed the bill, he had the option of amending it, and he chose not to do so. I have strong disagreement with him about the way he has handled this, but continue to stand ready and available to negotiate and talk and amend as needed to bring almost 100,000 jobs to Illinois.

Over the last few years, the state Legislature has begun to bring spending in line with revenues by cutting spending in education, health care, social services and other areas. Has the state Legislature done enough to reduce spending and run government more efficiently? What more could be done? Are there any areas where you would like to see greater state investment?
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Lang

There could always be more done. However, the legislature has acted responsibly in the last two budgets by cutting, making hard choices, balancing the budgets, setting caps for spending, and by crafting budgets in a bi-partisan way. This is the way it should have always been done and the people of Illinois should be pleased at the progress we have made and the responsibility we have shown. Zero based budgeting should be continued and each program of the state and each grant given needs to have strict scrutiny. We need to invest more in new start up businesses that can hire people. The jobs task force had many ideas here which should be implemented. Tax credits, availability of capital, etc.

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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Lang

There is more to do in this area. I would support a cap on party leaders but believe that there should be a negotiation on this rather than a forced result. Of course, the amount of the cap and the rules as to how this would work are major issues to be resolved. I also think it is time to consider carefully crafted bills to deal with public financing of elections, limits on EXPENDITURES, and the results that have come from the Citizen United decision.

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

Yes. Tax fairness requires this.

Do you have a plan to reform Illinois' school finance system so that it no longer produces inequities in school funding across the state?        
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Lang

This, of course, is a complicated issue and involves not only how to reform school finance, but also, property taxes. It is unfair that schools with a good tax base have better funded schools. I have proposed moving away from property taxes as a prime funding source to a different system. Of course, if we do this, a hold harmless should be created so that school quality is not diminished as we move to a new system. School quality in Illinois should not depend on a series of haves and have nots. Total reform of the way we fund schools is required, and the will to do what is necessary so that a child in Wilmette and a child in East St. Louis both have opportunities to succeed.

What is your view on gay marriage?     
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Support. We have too many loveless relationships in our world today. Why wouldn't we encourage people in love to share all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage if they choose to do so? I was the proud Chief sponsor of the first "gay rights" bill that ever passed the Illinois House, and worked hard to pass the civil unions bill which, now that it is law, has afforded 1000s with the opportunity to have more meaningful legally recognized relationships. Human dignity requires that we take this next step.

The candidates
Lou Lang

Lou Lang

 

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The district
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