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State House, District 36

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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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    Shelstrom
Bob Shelstrom
Political party: Republican
Birthdate: 5/27/1953
Occupation: Professional Engineer
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Veronica Shelstrom

Education:

Elementary School: Worth District 127, Worth, Illinois
High School: A. A. Stagg High School
Undergraduate: University of Illinois (Urbana) BS in Civil Engineering
Graduate: Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago) Master of Mechanical Engineering

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Palos Historical Society

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

I was appointed as a delegate to the Illinois GOP Convention for 2008 and 2010. I taught Quantitative Analysis, Technical Mathematics, Health Care Mathematics and Physical Science at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois. I tauight as a subsitute teacher at Stagg, Sandburg, Andrew, Lockport East, Lockport Central, Lincoln Way Central, Lincoln Way East, Bremen, Hillcrest, Richards, Eisenhower, Shepard High Schools in Chicago's South suburbs. I was hired as a consultant to be a Senior project manager for the capital program at Chicago Public schools between 2000 and 2005, with responsiblities for managing assessment and design of most mechanical renovations in the district.

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

Only the senior project manager and teaching positions previously described.

Campaign information
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    Shelstrom
Shelstrom

Campaign headquarters: 10640 Wildwood Drive, Palos Park, IL 60464
Website: www.bobshelstrom.com
Campaign manager: Bob Shelstrom
Campaign budget: $30,000
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
My campaign has been self funded to this point.

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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Shelstrom

I am not a incumbent.

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

I am not an incumbent.

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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    Shelstrom
Shelstrom

There are some conepts in SB 1673 that I could support, but I think I would prefer other approaches to ending excesses and abuses in the pension system, and relying less on the shifting of cost from local schools from the state.

I believe that no cost should be shifted to school districts based upon the first $75,000 of staff salaries, except for that portion the salry created by "end of career spiking".

The shifts from state to local districts should be limited to things under the districts' control such as end of career spiking costs, highly compensated employees pension obligations above a $75,000 salary, early retirement peniosn costs, and allhealth insurance and "raise" costs associated with early retirement.

This shift of costs for benefits in excess of basic retirement calculations and should be shared by the district and employee and NOT passed on to taxpayers wihtout approval of referendum for that purpose.

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

In addition to the changes previously outlined, a distinction should be made between those public retirees who have truly retired and those who are using their pension to subsidize a second career, often with another governmental body or as a "consultant" doing the same job as they were performing prior to reitirement, just at an increased salary.

Those collecting public pensions and choosing to work for more than $30,000 per year in another job after retirement should not receive state health insurnace benefits nor 3% increases while working.

Pension reductions should be made when working as a consultant or direct hire to governments participating in one of the five retirement systems, or a five year prohibitiion in working in such jobs should be enacted.

Retiree payment for health insurance in the retiree health system should be progressive, with retirees getting subsidized benefits if their total income (including second jobs) is less than $40,000 per year, and the state subsidy being reduced until retiree income reaches $100,000 per year.

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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Shelstrom

I support tightening the checking of eligibility by income and residency for Medicaid recipeints, a task currently performed very poorly by the state. It's been estimated that approximately a half BILLION dollars per year are fraudulently given to those who area ineligible for the Illinois medicaid benefit.

We should also enact a system that can verify that doctor invoices for payment make sense. Before payment, the number of patients billed to the doctor should be checked to determine if further investigation is necessary. For example, if a doctor submits charges for 100 patients per day, patient services should be verified and alleged patients contacted.

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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Shelstrom

I support letting the 67% income tax increase expire as soon as practical, earlier than 2014 if possible.

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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Shelstrom

While I support lowering our income tax rate to where it was before Mike Madigan's job-killing 67% tax increase,our corporate income taxes alone are not the entire reason that companies are taking jobs out of Illinois.

Our Workman's Compensation costs for businesses are about triple that of neighboring states, and lax scrutiny of claims as well as substantial fraud, are unaddressed by Ilinois government.

Malpractice insurance for the medical industry here is as much as six times that of neighboring states due to the hostile legal and tort environment in Illinois.

Organized labor in Illinois is among the mopst powerful in the nation due not to a strong support for union membership, but due to slanted labor law enacted by Springfield.

Perhaps the biggest disincentive for bringing business to Illinois is Springfield's massive pension and bonding debt liabilities that, if improperly addressed, could result in overburdening the state's taxpayers, both private and corporate, and also result in loss of essential gvoernment services in order to pay for former public employees not to work.

A business encouraging government in Springfield would return corporate tax rates to those prior to Madigan's tax increase, reform workman's compensation to cost businesses about the same as competing states, tighten checking of Medicaid eligibility to remove those not income or residency eligible for benefits, and address financial mismanagement in Springfield so that pension contributions and benefits for public workers has been modifed be fair and sustainable.

We should also free workers in Illinois from forced unionization and give them the freedom to choose union membership...or not.

We don't need new "commissions" and "blue ribbon panels" to create a better business environment in Illinois, we just need honest, common sense in our legislature and new candidates who will act in the best interest of Illinoisans when their interests conflict wiht that of the small, but powerful, special interests that support their campaigns.

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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Shelstrom

No. The focus of gaming in Illinois should primarily be keeping those wishing to gamble from our state from leaving the state fro gaming. This means allowing casinoes to be placed at major interstate borders with other states, as in the South Suburbs, the borders with Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri. It wil also have the added advantage of drawing gamers into Illinois to leave their losses and taxes.

We also should have gaming where visitors to Illinois from out of state will be, including near McCormick Place, OHare Airport, and Midway Airport. I woudl not be opposed to having slot machines at the airport as is the case in Las Vegas. The gamers would be primarily those waiting for plane transfers and those visiting Illinois.

We should also allow the expansion of gaming at race tracks, as customers there area already arriving with the intention of betting.

I oppose having video poker at local bars and restaurants because it is too difficult to control and those hurt by the losing propostiion of gaming will be Illinois cistizens least able to afford it.

Gaming is a "zero sum game" for Illinois citizens with respect to our economy. Money lost gaming would likley have been spent on other entertainment such as restaurants, movies, live shows, vacationing, or discretionary spending on clothes and electronics.

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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Shelstrom

The state legislature should also focus on reducing the state driven obligations to local units of government that drammatically increase their costs beyond their control.

The corrupt and unfair "Prevailing Wage Act" requires school and municipal governments to pay not average or the lowest responsible wage for construction and repair work, but the highest union rates in the region. For example, an electrician may be paid $25 per hour by his employer for building or renovating a private school, but when that worker is working on a public school project his employer will be required by law to pay him as much as $45 per hour of the work.

Forcing local and state governments to grossly overpay in situations such as this can add as much as 40% to construction costs, resulting in less construction work being done to benefit the students and fewer jobs being created for construction workers.

The savings from repealing this corrupt act could be used to offset state building grants to schools, making everyone benefit from paying market labor rates.

We also know that virtually all financial crises in schools have excessive labor agreements as the root cause of the problem, As we've recently witnessed in the Chicago Public Schools, even districts on the verge of financial insolvency can be forced to give unaffordable raises from the state power granted to public unions to strike without limitation.

It's time that this "freedom" of unions to demand raises and benefits that schools simply can't afford should be ended through ammendment of the Education Labor Relations Act. School unions should be prohibited from striking by state statute whenever a district is already paying salaries and benefits per contact hour above state average, the district is already paying over 65% of its operating budget on salaries and benefits, or the district has less than 6 months operating expenses in cash reserves.

Additionally, schools and municipal governments should provide proof to the Illinois State BOE that there is a means to fund every negotiated labor agreement without cutting services to students, increasing taxes, or reducing cash reserves prior to it being a legally approved contract. If this standard cannot be met, the contract shall be null and void.

Tentative agreements should be made public at least 30 days before the local board votes to approve it, and a public hearing on the contract shall be held at least 7 days prior to the vote.

These fair and comon sense reforms should dramatically reduce the rising cost of public education, and allow for reductions in state aid to public schools.

We also need to review the over 1000 state agencies and programs for redundancy and eliminate duplicative programs and their associated bloated bureaucracies.

We should also suspend all capital grants and appropriations from the state legislature for constuction projects that are not immediately required to correct unsafe conditions, and defer all construction that does not create public safety risk.

We should also reject participating in boondoggles such as the "high speed rail" project that will never be "high speed" and is redundant with our interstate system.

We also should suspend providing grants that cannot be shown to save the state money by adding effiiciency of service.

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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Shelstrom

NO. If we've learned anything from the history of camaign reform inIlinois or anywhere else, it's that those benefiting from campaign brinery will write loopholes in the law to propmote influence peddling and centralizing power in the hands of a few power brokers.

No matter the changes to campaign finance laws, those gaming the system will ALWAYS find a way to circumvent fair practice.

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

No. A "Flat Tax" is the fairest income tax system possible. In Ilinois we have very limited deductions compared to the Federal tax system, and when there is progressive tax system the politicans invariably add a series of complex deductions and tax incentives that virutally always make the tax system less fair and understandable to its citizens.

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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Shelstrom

I strongly believe that the state should be funding the student, not the local school district bureaucracy. Students should be able to take the resources that the state and local taxing bodies hae provided for their education and use them to attend any North Central Association accredited school. If local schools do not properly serve the students in a cost effective manner, the students should be able to go to more cost effective, better quality schools.This will be an incentive for public schools to improve the quality of their services and control costs to be competitive.

There should be a different level of funding for students with special needs so that parents and students can create the kinds of schools that will best serve their needs.

This system will allow a community to get the best quality of ecation for the students from the community, and allow the state to equalize funding throughout the state.

What is your view on gay marriage?     
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Shelstrom

I believe that what two adults of capacity choose to do in the privacy of their own homes is neither my, nor the government's business. Extending the privilege of the financial and legal advantages ot such unions will require diverting resources from other areas in the public funding for government employees, and this additonal cost should not be born, nor burden taxpayers, at this time.

There appear to be three goals in the gay community to be achieved by "legitimizing" gay unions through the institutions of marriage:

1) It would legally force those who find homosexual behavior against their religion and abhorrent to "accept" this behavior without criticism.
2) Giving gay relatiionships an "equal" status with heterosexual marriage will open the door to having the state require public schools to teach, and promote, homosexual behavior and lifestyles to school children.
3) Provide and increase public benefits to be paid to "spouses" per government benefit packages.

I believe that forcing acceptance of behaviors on others, teaching and promoting behaviors to which many have religious oppositions and unnecessarily adding another "entitlement" expense is both inappropriate and unjafforadable at this time.

The candidates
Kelly M. Burke

Kelly M. Burke

Bob Shelstrom

Bob Shelstrom

 

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The district
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