Here are the questions The Daily Journal is posing to the candidates for governor, both Republican and Democrat. Every candidate has been called and offered the opportunity to respond. Here are the answers by Tio Hardiman, Democratic candidate for governor.
On the Illinois income tax
"I would roll back the tax for individuals, but keep the higher rate for corporations."
Illinois is working under a temporary increase in its income tax that was passed four years ago by a lame-duck session of the legislature. That act increased the income tax from three to five percent. If the legislature does not act, the tax would drop to 3.75 percent.
Did not advocate for the discussed progressive income tax option, which would create new tax brackets and higher rates.
"We cannot continue to overtax working families."
Favors eliminating the head tax charged to corporations, saying it discourages hiring.
"It is impeding progress."
On Illinois public pensions
Says the reform effort, which closed about a fifth of the pension gaps, chiefly by cutting retirees' cost of living raises, was "enough." Not in favor of further changes at this time.
"We should have not tampered with the COLA. If someone works 30 or 40 years, they should not have to worry that you are going to change their pension."
Would work to find additional revenue to keep the current pension system in place.
"This is a $100 billion problem that has been 42 years in the making. You should not solve it by hurting working-class people."
Would work to close the revenue gap by setting up three to five state-owned casinos that would generate $5 billion per year. He says that would help on pensions and also allow the state to do more work on capital improvements and infrastructure.
Says this proposed program would create 12,000 new jobs.
"I think we could erase the state deficit within two to three years." Acknowledges that something must be done to help gamblers who have gone too far, but main point, "Why should casino owners be the only ones getting wealthy off gambling?"
On balancing the Illinois budget
Says it is "very important' to balance the state budget.
"We have not had a surplus since [Gov. Jim] Edgar. I would look at every department and trim fat."
His plan, which he calls "thinking out of the box" would have him meet with billionaires to see if they would fund certain social programs for at least four years while the state gets on its feet.
He's thinking of people like Bill and Melinda Gates, who, acting out of charity, would fund programs like all of the mental health costs or all the domestic violence shelters for a period of time. One of his other initiatives would set up an education system for "low-level offenders."
On the minimum wage
Favors increasing the minimum wage to $10 per hour in Illinois, but only if the increase could be the ending of the head tax for corporations.
On the Illinois economy
Says his casino plan would be the catalyst for growth.
"All ships would rise with the tide. Look at what has happened in other states. If Illinois gets its house in order, growth will come."
Would like to establish a new type of business incentive, rewarding firms, like Caterpillar or Motorola, that have stayed in Illinois for a long time, 15 years or more. It should not be only new businesses that get incentives.
Satisfied with the current public school system in Illinois. Would cap the number of charter schools and initiate a study to determine if charter schools really were performing better than regular public schools and if the gap was significant.
Says the study might take as long as a year.
Once found what works, would ultimately increase funding for public education.
On waste in Medicaid
Says he would be very aggressive in rooting out people who were on the Medicaid rolls now, but were not qualified to be there.
Believes reform of Medicaid could put a "big dent" in Illinois' financial problems.
Would appoint special teams to investigate Medicaid fraud.
On the early release of prisoners
Says it is important to look at each individual case.
He would begin to link state prisons with institutions of higher learning. Prisoners would be given the choice of doing hard time or taking classes leading to a trade.
"This would not be available to murderers and rapists, but we have to realize that the vast majority of prisoners will be back in one to five years. We have to give them training so they have something useful to do when they get out. We need them to use their time wisely."
Without teaching, he said, they would be right back in prison.
Supports legalization only for "medical purposes."
"We shouldn't lock up people for a joint or two, but we should not mislead anyone. Marijuana is the gateway for hardcore drugs. Many will graduate to cocaine and a wider world of abuse."
Anything more that the state needs to do on gay marriage and concealed carry?
On gay marriage, would enforce the current state law, which legalizes the same.
Makes the point on concealed carry that gun owners who obey the law are not the problem.
"We need stronger laws against people who traffic in illegal guns." Wants the state to partner with ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) agents to catch people who bring illegal guns across state lines. Would like to see them prosecuted in the state where the illegal sale takes place, before the gun reaches Illinois.