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State House, District 57

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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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    Nekritz
Elaine Nekritz
Political party: Democrat
Birthdate: 12/11/1957
Occupation: State of Illinois
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Barry

Education:

Bachelors degree from Trinity University, San Antonio, TX, 1979, in Economics.
Law degree from University of Michigan, 1982

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

League of Women Voters, Sierra Club, National Council of Jewish Women, Active Transportation Alliance, League of Illinois Bicyclists, International Mountain Biking Association

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

Yes. I served as Chair of the Village of Northbrook Community Relations Commission and was the Democratic Committeeman for Northfield Township, Cook County.

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

I was an associate and partner of the law firm of Altheimer & Gray from 1982 through 1991. That firm had contracts with units of government but I personally did not have any. My husband, Barry, has worked with numerous large law firms throughout his career as an attorney and those firms also would have had contracts with various governments. Barry is currently with the firm of SNR Denton and while we are not personally aware of any contracts SNR Denton has with government, SNR Denton is a large international law firm with over 1000 attorneys so there could be such contracts. Barry currently serves as a volunteer on the Task Force for Unincorporated Cook County formed by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Barry's son was a teacher, principal and superintendent at various school districts in Northern Illinois and our daughter in law, is a speech pathologist in a school. My brother in law is a teacher in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Campaign information
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Nekritz

Campaign headquarters: P.O. Box 2563, Glenview, IL 60025
Website: www.nekritznow.com
Campaign manager: Joseph Randol
Campaign budget: $250,000
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
Since July 1, 2012, the five biggest campaign contributors are:

Cottonwood Financial, $10000
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association PAC, $5000
Personal PAC $5000 in-kind
Illinois LawPAC $2500
Realtor PAC $2500
Development Specialists Inc. $2500

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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Nekritz

I have supported every significant pension reform bill that has come before legislators to date. Why? Because I believe we must find an answer for this problem now. I am a chief co-sponsor of Senate Bill 1673 because I believe it strikes the right combination in pension reform: protecting and preserving pensions for our state workers and teachers for the long term while allowing us to put our spending priorities back in order in state government. The choice given pensioners in SB1673 is real and I believe constitutional.

I support shifting pension costs to local school districts as a matter of fiscal accountability. We in Springfield are finally acknowledging we can no longer spend more than we bring in, and we cannot make promises and hope we can pay for them later. By asking school districts to pay the costs of the pensions that largely come from the salary packages they negotiate locally, we can all share in the sacrifice and send the message to taxpayers that we are serious about better managing their investment and holding ourselves accountable to that commitment. The cost shift can be phased in to ensure schools can handle the new expense, and it also will allow the state to put more money back in the classroom.

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

Did not respond

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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Nekritz

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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Nekritz

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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Nekritz

I was encouraged this spring that the Legislature took the Medicaid issue head on and supported cuts that will turn around the struggling program. While painful, these cuts will keep the program viable, eliminate waste and provide the services to those who most need them. I'm proud of the work we've done to pull Medicaid back from the abyss.

Our work is not done. We must continue to be vigilant to ensure we are not making promises we cannot keep in the Medicaid system. We need to ensure only those eligible to be in the system are receiving services, as well as constantly reviewing services and expenses to provide what is essential to those who most need them. If we take this fiscal watchdog approach, we will have a stable, sustainable and effective Medicaid program for the long term.

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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Nekritz

I and other colleagues want to see the income tax increase rolled back. That is why we are working so diligently to get our state budget reworked. It started last year with significant budget cuts and continued this year with more cuts and historic Medicaid reform. The next step is pension reform, which I believe we will see upon our return to Springfield after the election. We need to continue to work to spend less and prioritize our spending to go to only the most essential programs, through budgeting for the results that really matter.

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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Nekritz

As with our spending, we must constantly watch our revenues to ensure we are bringing in what we need to support essential state services and programs while not overburdening taxpayers. We all should work to ensure our tax code is not onerous or unfair, including for our job creators. I support investing in infrastructure and developing public-private partnerships to get our roads, bridges, transit, rail and other needs met. When we invest in these vital economic cogs, we put people to work and send the strong message to business that we want you here to grow and prosper.

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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Nekritz

I do not believe our state should pin its economic hopes on the promise of gambling producing economic windfalls. However, I am willing to consider a package that includes slots at the horseracing tracks. All the Midwestern states have provided supports for the tracks when casinos were opened. As a candidate for office in the northwest suburbs of Cook County, including Arlington Heights, slots are important for the survival of the horse racing industry and for the taxpayers of Arlington Heights and surrounding suburbs.

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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Nekritz

We have made great strides in getting our spending under control. We have said ‘no' to special interests, asked our state agencies to cut waste and inefficiency and started the process of putting first the most essential services and programs. Our effort to budget for results is working. But it is far from over.

Here are several areas where more work needs to be done:

Facility closures: In the face of overwhelming pressure to cast a politically popular vote, I have voted as a member of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability to close state facilities and better use those resources through community based services.

Medicaid: I supported real cuts to the Medicaid program, to both eliminate waste and fraud but also reduce and eliminate services. Difficult choices to be sure, but necessary to get our fiscal house in order.

Retiree health care: I supported Senate Bill 1313 to save our state as much as $250 million annually by requiring state retirees to contribute financially to the cost of their health care coverage.

State bureaucracy: I support eliminating salaries for part-time state boards and commissions to save millions of dollars a year.

Leading by example: Taxpayers often question whether legislators are doing their part to sacrifice in these tight budget times. The answer is yes. I have supported and will continue to push for annual furlough days for legislators and reduced expense and mileage payments as we lead the way out of this morass.

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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Nekritz

I ran for office 10 years ago because I wanted to be a new kind of legislator, one who focused solely on making the best policy decisions and not pandering to the political whims of special interests. I have pushed repeatedly for stronger limits on campaign donations. In 2009, when we approved significant reform in the wake of the Blagojevich debacle, I thought we should go further and put stricter limits on the money political leaders can give their candidates. Unfortunately, I didn't win that argument. But my push for stronger limits continues.

For me, it's simple. As long as our legislative leaders and political parties control the money going into our coffers, they exert undue control over us. I will continue to fight to limit that influence and lead by example that legislators can work within the system to change the system.

I also support disclosure of economic interests by candidates, elected officials and agency directors that are clear and understandable. Our current "Statement of Economic Interest" does not shed any light on potential conflicts of interest. This is clearly an area where we can do better.

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

I support a comprehensive review of our taxes to assure the state has a tax system that is fair, adequate and grows with the economy and isn't punitive. We should look at who now pays taxes and how much they pay and re-evaluate the impact that taxes have on businesses and residents alike. We have to be accountable to our constituents when it comes to being good fiscal stewards of their money, and I wholeheartedly support voters having the opportunity to decide how our tax system works.

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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Nekritz

School funding is one of our most complicated challenges because there are so many needs and so many competing interests for those needs. Our state is incredibly diverse, and the challenges for schools in the 57th House District often are far different than those in the inner city or rural Illinois.

The best plan to tackle this complex area is to treat it as we have Medicaid and pension reform over the last year. We should bring together the varied interests and start negotiations over real reform, with the message that we will not give up until we have a solution. We cannot take this issue seriously until we make reform inevitable. As part of those discussions, I would advocate for a system that reduces the burden property taxpayers have to fund our schools and work instead to find the balance among federal, state and local resources that puts all kids' opportunities first, regardless of their zip code.

What is your view on gay marriage?     
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Nekritz

I supported legalizing civil unions in Illinois and also would support legalizing gay marriage. Again, it's a matter of fairness. We should not play favorites based on sexual orientation, just as we do not for race or gender.

The candidates
Jonathan Greenberg

Jonathan Greenberg

 

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The district
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