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Community Comments gives you an opportunity to hear about the issues and concerns that are most important to our neighbors and my response to frequently asked questions.
Do you support an income tax increase?
I have long been concerned that the state could not be trusted to use the money from the tax increase wisely. Many changes have been made and adhered to in the four years since the tax increase was put into place though. The state has prioritized funding our schools and reducing our debt, cutting it in half and paying more of our bills in a healthy 30 day time frame. They have put the budget making process back in the hands of bipartisan teams of legislators, cut spending and reduced staffing. All things I had said were a priority. We are by no means out of the woods yet though. We should continue to work on making Illinois a business friendly state so that we can retain current jobs and attract new ones. Approaching the date of the income tax sunset makes this a critical time to also examine the options that will enable us collect an appropriate amount of revenue to meet our financial obligations and improve our fiscal situation, while not overburdening our middle and low income earners.
Why don’t you identify a political party on your literature?
As a voter, I like to learn about the candidates and support the person I think will do the best job, rather than simply voting to support a political party. As a candidate, I want to give the voters a chance to learn about me, where I stand on the issues that impact Illinois, and what I can do to help our community. My hope is that, come Election Day, the voters will choose the person they believe can best represent their interests, regardless of political affiliation.
While I am the Democratic candidate, my political orientation is Independent. Like most people I meet every day, I believe we've been let down by both parties, and that we need to elect people who understand that and will put the failed partisan politics in the past to better focus on the challenges confronting our state. I do not agree with many of the issues supported by party leaders, and in fact, I have publicly taken a stand for limiting the amount of control held by the Republican and Democratic legislative leaders.
More important than being a democrat or a republican, I am a mother who understands the struggle working families face and the tough choices we all must make in this difficult economy. We need to get Illinois back on track, and that means elected officials must start putting people before politics. Illinois has real problems and we need people who put partisan politics aside and actually do the work they were elected to do. As State Representative, my priority is the best interest of the people of the 56th District, not those of a political party or legislative leader.
What do you think Illinois should do to promote job creation?
The fact is our elected officials have created an unstable fiscal environment that is unfriendly to businesses. For decades, politicians have mismanaged taxpayer dollars, financially ruined our state, and harmed the economic future of Illinois.
Illinois must elect representatives willing to make the tough choices and continue to reign in our spending habits. We must learn to live within our means and pay our bills on time. We must find ways to ease our fiscal pressures and create a stable environment for those that do business with and in Illinois. We must demonstrate that we want to grow and improve our relationships with businesses and that we want businesses in Illinois to succeed.
Creating jobs and putting people back to work must be a priority for the people of Illinois, and we must demand that every single person elected this November commit to policies that encourage job growth and economic recovery. I will advocate for financial incentives that encourage companies to hire unemployed workers and expand their operation in Illinois. I will push legislation that holds corporations that receive tax breaks and then move jobs out of the state accountable by requiring them to refund their tax breaks.
How can we improve the education system?
The people of the 56th District are fortunate to live in a community with excellent schools, but we can always do better for our kids. Through my work with the PTA, I’ve learned that parents and teachers, working together, can tremendously improve our schools. Parents must take an active role in their child’s education and establish an attitude within their children that success in school is important. This isn’t always easy, but as parents we must get involved, whether we help with homework, meet with teachers, volunteer at the schools, and most importantly read to our children at home. Teachers and administrators must ensure that our schools are safe and that the atmosphere encourages learning. The community must take an active role in supporting our children by providing adequate after school programs, such as sports, arts, and academic enhancements.
What do you think Illinois must do to reduce spending?
There are so many ways that government can help people, but we must also learn to live within our means. We need to maximize every dollar and make sure that taxpayer dollars are spent on projects, programs, and jobs that move Illinois forward and can be measured to verify the return the state receives from each investment. We must go through the budget line by line and monitor spending.
I am open to any and all suggestions to cut or eliminate state spending so that Illinois can balance its budget and reduce taxes. We must put an end to taxpayer funded programs that aren’t working or taxpayer funded jobs that are unnecessary or duplicative. In 2007 the Office of the Auditor General attempted to inventory all of the state programs and discovered the State funds approximately 1,750 programs, and that some are duplicative or could be consolidated. Also, Illinois should rebid state contracts and award them to the lowest bidder.
Do you believe members of the General Assembly should receive pay increases?
A person should not enter public service to get rich, but rather should do so because they believe in helping the people of their community. Serving your community is a privilege, not a right. I have spoken with far too many people in our community who have had their hours cut or who are out of work all together. We have too many politicians in Springfield who are insulated from the hard choices average Illinois families are making right now. Most of us have cut our spending and gone without in this economy.
I believe elected officials need to share the pain that the average Illinoisan is experiencing. I previously carried legislation that forced legislators to take furlough days and refuse a cost of living increase and also supported these reductions in the budget for the sixth year in a row.
Contact me at Michelle@VoteMichelle.org if you would like to discuss an issue or submit a question.