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State House, District 84

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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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    Kifowit
Stephanie A. Kifowit
Political party: Democrat
Birthdate: 11/2/1971
Occupation: substitute teacher, East Aurora District 131
Marital status: married
Spouse: Steve

Education:

Bachelor of Science in Political Science, Northern Illinois University, 1997;
Masters of Public Administration, Northern Illinois University, 2003

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Alderman Kifowit is a member of the American Legion, The United States Marine Corps League, Women Marine League, Am Vets, Aurora Crimestoppers, Illinois Municipal League, Greater Aurora Chamber of Commerce, Women in Government, Aurora Independence Day Parade Committee, the Veterans' Breakfast Group and the American Society of Public Administrators.

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

Alderman, City of Aurora, 2003 to present

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

My husband works for Prairie State College, Community College District 505.

Campaign information
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Kifowit

Campaign headquarters: 1669 Montgomery Rd., Ste. 7, Aurora, IL 60504
Website: www.stephaniekifowit.org
Campaign manager: Julia Larkin
Campaign budget:
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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Kifowit

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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Kifowit

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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Kifowit

It is clear the state needs to address this issue as soon as possible, and I am open to considering many of the options that are being discussed right now in Springfield. There is no easy solution to this situation but I am eager to continue working with all parties towards a solution that keeps the pension funds solvent while also being fair to both taxpayers and public employees.

I am against the portion of SB 1673 that shifts costs to local school districts because I fear it would result in a property tax increase. We cannot solve this problem by continuing to raise taxes, a practice that has been extremely harmful to our economy. All the stakeholders need to come together to create a new plan for fully funding the pension systems without relying on tax increases, and the state needs to do its part by making the full pension payment every year, which has not been done in the past.

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

I support pension reform, but I believe it needs to be done in a way similar to recent education reform efforts. We need to bring all stakeholders together to find a solution that is fair for both taxpayers and employees. We also cannot lose focus on the fact that we need to make sure the pension funds remain solvent so the state can continue to pay the benefits employees have already earned. An important part of keeping the pension funds solvent is making sure the state puts in its full pension payment every year, which it has not always done in the past. Illinois has a pension payment plan in place, and the General Assembly needs to stick to that plan. I support cutting the pensions and health care benefits of current legislators and eliminating the pensions of future lawmakers.

The legislature reformed pensions for new hires and has taken some initial steps to root out abuse and fraud from the system. Those efforts should be continued to save the state money and preserve benefits for those who have earned them. There seems to be a new story every day about former legislators or lobbyists getting sweet pension deals that are worth far more than what they put into the system. This practice needs to stop; it is absolutely unfair to both taxpayers and state workers.

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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Kifowit

I'm pleased the Legislature has taken needed steps to reform the system and do a better job of cracking down on scammers who have gamed the system and state taxpayers, taking hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits they don't qualify for, which hurts those who truly need assistance. I don't agree with all of the cuts that were made in the Medicaid reform package, particularly the prescription drug coverage for seniors. We need to look for creative options on how to reduce Medicaid spending without denying access to healthcare benefits to those who truly need it. We also need to look at increasing funding for community-based services to reduce the need for more expensive, long-term institutional care. The state must work harder to reduce Medicaid fraud, which costs our country billions of dollars annually. I support all efforts to make the process of Medicaid billing more transparent to both reduce fraud and better allow patients to understand the costs of the medical care they are receiving.

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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Kifowit

I support repealing the tax increase because I believe local families cannot wait any longer for tax relief. I will fight to repeal the tax increase, but if it cannot be repealed, the state should keep its promise to let the tax increase expire as originally planned.

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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Kifowit

One of my top priorities is to get the state's economy back on track and create jobs. We need to make sure Illinois has a business climate that encourages companies of all sizes to grow and expand. We also need to make sure Illinois is taking steps to attract new businesses that will create good-paying jobs for families throughout the state.

I support taking steps to help businesses reinvest in Illinois and create jobs such as extending the state's research and development tax credit. At the same time I think we need to stop corporations like Sears from holding the state hostage, being given large tax breaks and then closing stores and eliminating jobs. I will fight for stronger laws that require businesses that eliminate or move jobs out of state to refund the breaks they received.

Increased tax incentives for businesses must be tied to overall budget reform. We need to prioritize state spending in order to pay for truly successful and necessary programs and services and cut any programs that are not efficiently and effectively using the taxpayer funds that have been allocated to them.

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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Kifowit

No, I do not support expanding gambling in 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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Kifowit

The state must prioritize its spending, budget responsibly and reduce waste and inefficiencies so vital state programs and areas of spending receive the funding they need. A bloated state budget full of wasteful spending shortchanges taxpayers, state vendors and those who depend on state services. I will work to make sure Illinois' government starts to live within its means, just like every family has to do when working with their household budget.

We need to implement zero-based budgeting in the state budget every year. This will allow the General Assembly to prioritize state spending in order to pay for necessary programs and services and services and programs that show results, and cut any programs that are not efficiently and effectively using taxpayer funds.

In order to save the state money, I propose the following:

1. We should cut lawmakers pay by 10 percent. It's time for elected officials throughout the state to do the right thing.

2. The state should drastically reduce the number of vehicles in its fleet. A recent audit found that a quarter of the vehicles the state owns are not driven enough to be cost effective, and many of these vehicles were only used by employees to go to and from work and home.

3. Reduce the state air fleet to only include planes and helicopters used for emergency services. State officials do not need to fly around the state in a private plane like overpaid private CEOs. This is a luxury the state simply cannot afford.

4. Combine the state treasurer's and comptroller's offices to reduce duplicative services, and look at other ways Illinois can consolidate government services.

5. Reform pensions in a way that is fair for workers and taxpayers, and work to find and eliminate fraud and abuse within the pension system. This includes cutting the pensions and health care benefits of current lawmakers and eliminating pensions for all future lawmakers.

6. There are a number of state boards and commissions, many of which provide compensation to their members. The state should eliminate this pay and make sure those who seek appointments to these boards want to provide a service to the state, not line their pockets with taxpayer dollars or boost a pension.

The state should invest more in initiatives that make Illinois a better place to do business by improving education, upgrading infrastructure and providing incentives to businesses that create good-paying jobs.

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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Kifowit

I support further expanding the current campaign funding limits to take as much money out of politics as possible. I support capping general election donations. But we need to make sure any further campaign funding limits do not have the unintended consequence of giving special interest groups too much unchecked power and influence over elections.

I support increasing transparency by requiring more disclosure about campaign contributions, especially in regards to special interest groups who can spend a great deal of money on a candidate's behalf without having to disclose any of its donors.

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

No, I do not support any measure that could raise taxes on the middle class.

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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Kifowit

As a mother and a substitute teacher, I have a unique perspective on what issues are facing our local schools. In order to improve performance we need involved parents and we need less onerous and expensive unfunded federal mandates, like those required by No Child Left Behind. Teachers should be able to focus on creative ways of helping our children learn, rather than focusing on test-taking all year long. I know that some of my local schools do not feel that they get their fair share of state funding, making them more reliant on local property taxes. This is a practice that needs to stop; the state needs to do its part to fund our schools. I believe that we need to make sure that schools get a share of any new revenue in order to make school funding more equitable.

What is your view on gay marriage?     
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Kifowit

Everyone should enjoy the same civil rights and no one should face discrimination because of their sexual orientation. I believe the intent behind Illinois' recently enacted civil unions law has done just that.

The candidates
Stephanie A. Kifowit

Stephanie A. Kifowit

 

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The district
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