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State House, District 18

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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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    Gabel
Robyn Gabel
Political party: Democrat
Birthdate: 2/7/1953
Occupation: Legislator, Illinois General Assembly
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Ivan Handler

Education:

B.A. Beloit College, major in Anthropology
MSPH, University of Illinois, School of Public Health, major in community health
MJ, Loyola University, Law School, health law

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Illinois Public Health Association
Campaign for Better Health Care
Heartwood Center
Democratic Party of Evanston
New Trier Democratic Organization
League of Women Voters
Evanston History Center
IVI-IPO

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

I was an aide to then-Alderman Luis Gutierrez in 1987.

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

My husband works for the Illinois Governor's office on IT issues.

Campaign information
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Gabel

Campaign headquarters: 821 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL 60202
Website: robynforrep.com
Campaign manager: Joshua Kilroy
Campaign budget: I plan to spend $50,000.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
Bill Brandt: $2,500
Illinois Trial Lawyers Assn: $5,000
Illinois Education Assn: $2,500
Abbott Laboratories Employee PAC: $2,000
Illinois Hospital Assn: $2,000

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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    Gabel
Gabel

Illinois' pension problem did not manifest overnight. For many years the state did not fully fund it's pension obligation and the recession brought lower returns on investments. It is clear that if nothing is done, pension payments will require using more and more state revenue that is currently allocated for education and human services.We need to stabilize our pension system otherwise we risk a time where current employees who have contributed into the system may not be paid their benefits.The most important pension reform must be to legally require Illinois to pay it's pension obligation each year on time. Otherwise, any pension reforms will not provide the stability for a long term solution. I believe that for special consideration needs to be made for retirees whose pensions are below $25,000 a year and they do not receive social security. It is possible I could support a bill that is similar to SB 1673 depending on if these other factors are considered. Regarding shifting pension costs back on local school districts, I could support that provided it is done gradually enough (for instance, over 12 years) to give the local school districts time to plan for the expenses.

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

See above

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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Gabel

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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    Gabel
Gabel

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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Gabel

I voted for the Medicaid reform package. As a member of the larger Medicaid Reform committee, my goal was to improve efficiency and protect poor families from the most devastating budget cuts. I deeply hope that we do not have to go back and cut more services. It is my belief that we have cut to the bone and that additional cuts would be devastating for low-income families.

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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Gabel

I voted for the tax increase with the understanding that the purpose was to sustain the necessary operations of the state. I also understood that the tax would phase down after 2014. Action would have to be taken to extend the full increase past that date. It is extremely premature to make a decision about this now. Hopefully revenues will have picked up to pre-recession levels and the tax will not be necessary to sustain vital operations of the state. At that time, we will re-examine our revenue and expenditures to decide what is best for the state and the people of Illinois moving forward.

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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Gabel

Creating a more favorable business climate requires us to develop some of the unique advantages Illinois has: our transportation infrastructure; our outstanding concentration of world-class universities; and our hospitals and other medical research centers that make our region a global leader in medicine. The state must create a stable fiscal environment for business by stabilizing the pensions and balancing the budget. State government can also fast track permitting (with transparency) and ensure fairness in granting contracts.

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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Gabel

Although I had some minor disagreements with the gambling bill, I did vote for it. It will provide jobs and new revenue to the state budget.

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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Gabel

I think that the state has cut enough. The urgent task now is generating growth to increase revenue. The state needs an overall plan to focus on economic growth in targeted arenas. Federal funds are being used to assist innovative new companies but more needs to be done for companies that are already in Illinois. I would like to see greater state investment in technological manufacturing and renewable energy areas.

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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Gabel

I believe that too much money is spent on campaigns in this country. I would like to see campaigns publicly financed and more limits on spending. However, this must be done in a manner that will not create an unfair playing field and allow unspecified private funding to be used without transparency and limitations. The recent Supreme Court decision, Citizen's United, has changed the rules and we need to see the impact it will have on elections.

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

I would back such an amendment. Currently, Illinois is only one of seven states that has a flat tax among the states that have an income tax. The total tax burden is twice as high on the lowest wage earners than it is on the top 1% wage earners in Illinois. A change to a progressive income tax system could bring in $2.4 billion annually in state revenue.

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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Gabel

A better and more equitable school finance system would feature a graduated income tax and larger state payments to local school districts so that they would not have to rely on property taxes. Our current funding system creates great inequities in school funding depending on where you live. Some children's schools operate on a budget of $6,000 per student while others $16,000. A well educated work force is the key to economic growth. Reforming our school finance system is long overdue.

What is your view on gay marriage?     
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    Gabel
Gabel

I support full marriage equality. Marriage, as an institution in our country, bestows legal and social benefits that can only be obtained through marriage. It defines the rights, responsibilities, benefits and protections that two people have towards each other and their family. Persons of the same sex should have the right to marry the person they love and be able to build a stable family unit under the law.

The candidates
Robyn Gabel

Robyn Gabel

 

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The district
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