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State House, District 59

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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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    Mathias
Sidney H. Mathias
Political party: Republican
Birthdate: 11/9/1944
Occupation: Retired Attorney
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Rita Mathias

Education:

Roosevelt University, Bachelor of Science in Mathematics
DePaul University College of Law, Juris Doctor

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Northwest Suburban JCC President 1986-1988; Director 1986-1999
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago Former Board Member, 2005-2011
Buffalo Grove Park District Former Soccer Referee
Buffalo Grove Chamber of Commerce Member
Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce Member
Wheeling/Prospect Heights Member
Chamber of Commerce
Cook County Circuit Court Arbitrator 1996 to 2004
College of Lake County, Southeast Regional Planning Council - Member 1994 to Present
Roosevelt University, Northwest Advisory Board Member
Northwest Suburban Alliance on Domestic Violence, Member

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

2003- present State Representative for the 53rd House District

1999-2003 State Representative for the 51st House District

1991-1999 Village President, Village of Buffalo Grove

1988-1991 Village Trustee, Village of Buffalo Grove

1983-1988 Zoning Board of Appeals, Village of Buffalo Grove

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

My wife, Rita Mathias, is a retired elementary school teacher formerly with School District 102 and School District 96.

Campaign information
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Mathias

Campaign headquarters: 135 N. Arlington Hts. Road, Suite 185, Buffalo Grove, Il. 60089
Website: www.voteforsid.com
Campaign manager: Arlen Gould
Campaign budget: $500,000.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.

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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Mathias

I will not support a pension plan that includes a "cost shift" to our local suburban school districts. Our local suburban school districts are struggling to balance their budgets and have already terminated employees. Adding additional costs will lead to higher property taxes and/or cuts to essential academic programs and elimination of personnel.

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

Although there is enough blame to go around as to how we arrived at the current pension crisis, some background information is important. In 2005 I spoke out and voted against the under-funding of the state's pension systems by former Governor Blagojevich and the Democratic-controlled legislature. Over a 3 year period of time they failed to pay a required $3.5 billion of the state's share of pension contributions. We were told at that time that for every dollar not paid there would be an additional $13 in unfunded liabilities. So today we face an $83 billion unfunded pension liability and close to $40 billion or almost half of the current unfunded pension liabilities can be attributed to that decision not to pay what was required. Would we still be discussing this issue today with the same sense of urgency had the required payments been made? At the same time our state employees and teachers made all of their required payments into the system. Is it fair or constitutional to now change the benefits that current retirees are receiving after they fully made their commitment but the state did not? I don't believe that is either fair or constitutional under the Illinois Constitutional provision that accrued pension benefits can not be diminished or impaired. Of course there are other reasons for the $83 billion unfunded pension liabilities. The investments of the state pension funds were substantially reduced during the past several years as our economy tanked. The investments are starting to get better and that should provide some relief. Because of advances in healthcare, retirees are living longer and that was not taken into consideration when contributions were determined many years ago. So we need to review the actuarial computations and determine if an increase in contributions by employees is warranted.
One of the largest portions of the unfunded pension liability can be attributed to the guaranteed annual 3% compounded cost of living (COLA) increase to pension payments. 40% of unfunded pension liabilities maybe attributed to COLA's. While I believe that a COLA is necessary it should be tied into the actual cost of living. If the price of milk goes up $1 the pension should go up $1 not 50 cents nor $3. This can save billions in unfunded liabilities.
It is important to note that as part of the pension reform solution, I supported the legislation that created a two-tier pension system. It applies to all new employees hired after January 1, 2011. This legislation raises the age for retirement to age 67 with a reduced benefit at age 62. It also reduces COLA increases and it prevents a retired employee who is collecting a pension from going back to work under another pension system, commonly referred to as "double dipping." It is estimated that these changes can save the pension systems up to $15 billion. I supported these changes.

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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Mathias

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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Mathias

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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Mathias

I voted in favor of the Medicaid reform package which passed during the spring session of the legislature. I voted against the increase in the cigarette tax. I am a co-sponsor of
HR 1225 which urges the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to ensure that the eligibility redeterminations process required by the Save Medicaid Access and Resources Together (SMART) Act be fully operational by October 1, 2012. The centerpiece of the Medicaid reforms was a provision requiring the administration to utilize a private vendor to review Medicaid rolls and to verify eligibility for recipients. This must be commenced immediately since it is estimated that as many as 300,000 current Medicaid recipients are not eligible for benefits. Removing them from the rolls will save our state around $350 million. The delays in implementing this law by the Administration is costing our state substantial dollars that could be used in our budget.
We will be able to cut additional Medicaid spending by fully implementing the legislation contained in HB5242 which was enacted during the 96th General Assembly. This legislation will detect and root out the tremendous amount of dollars spent due to fraudulent and abusive Medicaid claims.
We must ensure that only those eligible continue on our rolls and that the claims paid are valid.

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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Mathias

I voted no on the legislation to increase the individual and corporate income tax rates. I have heard from many small businesses that Illinois tax policies are frustrating their efforts to do business in Illinois. Our tax policies and tax rate increases are costing Illinois jobs. Large corporations are either moving out of state or expanding new facilities out of state. I will not vote to extend the tax rate increases past 2014.

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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Mathias

I am a co-sponsor of HB 3917 and HB 3918 which would reduce the corporate income tax rates back to 4.8%. I am also a chief co-sponsor of HB 5343, a bill that would reduce the tax rates for Subchapter S corporations to 3%. I have heard from many small businesses that Illinois tax policies are frustrating their efforts to do business in Illinois. One such business owner attacked the policy of net operating loss carryover. As a start up company he incurred substantial net operating losses. Now that his company is finally producing profits he is unable to use these losses in the current tax year. He would have hired new workers with the money saved but instead had to pay corporate income taxes. I am a chief co-sponsor of HB 1897, HB 3100 and HB 3566 which would restore the net operating losses to businesses. Our tax policies and tax rate increases are costing Illinois jobs. Large corporations are either moving out of state or expanding new facilities out of state. I will not vote to extend the tax rate increases past 2014. We must change the image and the policies of our state from one that is seen as burdening our businesses with new taxes and fees to a state that wants new business to come to Illinois and further wants to expand the businesses that are already here. Our state must be recognized as a state that is willing to work with individual businesses to develop a plan for them to come to Illinois or expand in Illinois. I don't think we can measure the damage done to our job climate by our former Governor's plans to enact both a gross receipts tax and a payroll tax as well as substantial fees on businesses in prior years at a time when we are lagging far behind 47 other states in job creation. We can't just blame it on the economy. This new image must start at the top. Sometimes I feel that the Governors of our neighboring states are in better communication with our businesses and workers than our Illinois leaders.

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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Mathias

Although I have previously and consistently voted against the expansion of gambling in Illinois, I have been a supporter of the Arlington Park Race Track which is adjacent to my district. The track has provided substantial economic benefits to our region including jobs, property taxes for our local schools and business opportunities. The owners of the track have indicated that they may not be able to remain open without the addition of slot machines. It is for this reason that I supported the current gambling bill. I will not support future gambling bills unless the provisions regarding slots remain in the legislation. I would only support the creation of additional casinos if the same legislation also provided for slot machines at Arlington Race Track. Standing alone I would oppose the expansion of new casinos.

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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Mathias

More can be done to reduce spending and to streamline state government. I filed HJRCA8, HJRCA37 and HJRCA47 which are proposed constitutional amendments to abolish the office of Comptroller and allow the functions of that office to be combined with the duties of State Treasurer. This would save our state salaries, including the officeholder's salary. The work can be performed by current workers in the Treasurer's office. The duties will be streamlined and duplication of work eliminated. It is estimated that the savings to taxpayers would be approximately $12 million.
We can also reduce spending over a period of time by initially increasing funding for additional community based service programs for those individuals with special needs who can benefit from these services and would no longer need to live in long term care facilities.
Illinois has numerous facilities throughout our entire state. We can reduce travel expenses of our state employees by expanding the use of technology such as video conferencing.
Further with the initiation of high speed rail we can reduce the need for expensive air travel by our state officials and employees.
I would reduce Medicaid spending by utilizing more managed care programs. We will need to increase the numbers of individuals in mandated Medicaid programs which will lower spending and contain costs.
Also we will be able to cut additional Medicaid spending by fully implementing the legislation contained in HB5242 which was enacted during the 96th General Assembly. This legislation will detect and root out the tremendous amount of dollars spent due to fraudulent and abusive Medicaid claims.
I am a co-sponsor of HB111 which is known as PAYGO budgeting. We must pass this legislation to adopt a budget requirement that the General Assembly will not initiate any new programs or increase spending on existing programs until there are specific revenue sources to pay for any new spending.
Of course pension reform will reduce our state's unfunded liabilities by billions of dollars.
I also voted in favor of SB1313 which deletes the current formula for retiree health care contributions. We need to implement this legislation quickly since the state's portion of retiree health care costs may reach over $800 million in the next year. Retirees that receive the highest pensions will contribute the most to their health insurance premium costs. The amount of contributions will then be reduced for individuals with lower pensions. A retiree's length of service will also be a factor in determining an individual's contribution. A joint legislative committee will oversee the rules.
I also supported SB 2840 which enacted much needed Medicaid reforms. Medicaid funding is the fastest growing portion of our State budget. It is approximately $11 billion dollars and represents 1/3 of our General Fund Budget. We must quickly implement the provisions of this legislation especially the income eligibility guidelines. It is estimated that income eligibility will save $350 million dollars.

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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Mathias

Yes, Illinois must do more to regulate campaign fundraising. I opposed SB 1466 and voted no during the 96th General Assembly. Although this legislation was not in effect at the time of the General Election in November 2008, my election at that time indicates what is wrong with the new law. My opponent, at that time, received 75% of her campaign funding from the State Democratic party and the Speaker of the House while I received only 25% of my campaign funding from The Illinois Republican party and the Minority Leader. Had the new law been in effect I would have been limited in receiving funds from independent sources which comprised 75% of my campaign funding while my opponent was only limited in receiving funds from 25% of her campaign funding sources. This is grossly unfair and has lead to more power and influence being given to the leadership and the state political parties. In order to level the playing field, I would support a bill to impose the same limits on political parties and the leadership in the General Assembly. SB1466 does limit the amount of contributions by leadership and the political parties in a primary election. It only makes sense to extend those same rules to General elections. I filed HB1688 and HB 5835 which would place the same campaign finance caps on leaders and parties in all elections. Both of these bills were held in the majority party controlled Rules committee and were never assigned to a substantive committee for a hearing.
I also support more timely disclosure of campaign contributions. I filed HB 3110 and HB5092 which extends the 2-day filing requirement of campaign contributions of $1000.00 or more which are received within 90 days of an election rather than 30 days which is the current law. Since the vast majority of campaign finance reports are filed over the internet this bill would not create any substantial burdens on campaign committees. I believe that timely disclosure of campaign contributions is equally as important to caps that limit contributions. I also filed HB 2847 and HB 5093 which would require timely reporting of any contribution of $1,000 or more in the aggregate received from any one source during a quarterly reporting period. Current law only requires the timely reporting of a single contribution of $1000 or more during the quarterly reporting period. If someone contributed $999.00 every day it would not trigger any timely reporting requirement until the quarterly reports are filed which could be after the election takes place.

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

No

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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Mathias

Did not respond

What is your view on gay marriage?     
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Mathias

Did not respond

The candidates
Carol Sente

Carol Sente

 

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The district
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