The Chicago Tribune editorial board asked candidates on the February 2, 2010, primary ballot to list their qualifications for office and answer questions, as well as tell the board a bit about themselves. Excerpts from John's response to the editorial board are provided here, and you can also read his entire response at the Chicago Tribune's site.
- About the state's budget deficit and income tax increases for individuals and corporations:
- "Like the rest of the nation, Illinois faces a financial crisis brought on largely by this historic recession. But even before this recession, there was a deficit in Illinois. For decades both the Democrats and the Republicans played games to mask the deficit. For too long career politicians have put reelection ahead of doing the right thing. That is a big part of why we are in this mess and now we have to fix it. Before any additional revenue is even considered cuts need to be made. [...] I am confident we can indentify enough cuts to plug a large portion of the budget hole. If I am convinced that we have indentified all the cuts we can possibly make, then we should let the voters decide if taxes are increased. Voters should choose whether we amend the state constitution to allow for a progressive income tax. The federal income tax is progressive and of the 41 states that have an income tax, 33 have a progressive income tax. The different levels should be set so that only people making over $200,000 taxes are increased. If approved by the voters, I would insist that any additional revenue after we pay down debt goes to increasing funding for education and reducing property taxes."
- Top priorities for spending cuts?
- "Cuts need to be made for several reasons. First, in an economy when so many Illinoisans are tightening their belts the state has to do the same before asking for a penny. Second, with one governor in jail and another on trial, it makes people rightfully believe there are a lot of sweetheart deals in the budget. This year’s budget was cut by $3 billion dollars. That is a good start but I believe there is more that can be cut. We need to go through the budget line by line and see where other reductions can be made. One way to save tens of millions is by reducing the amount of land/office space the state owns/leases. As an attorney, I have to go to the Thompson Center to file forms. Every time I go I am shocked to see the staggering number of unused desks. The state should consolidate office space, get out of leases and sell land that is not being used. Ultimately, Illinois needs to create jobs. That means creating a meaningful partnership between workers, businesses and state government. Our state must find a new niche that utilizes our infrastructure and geography and implements bold ideas to grow the state economy."
- Addressing unemployment and economic growth challenges in Illinois:
- "Creating jobs in Illinois should be our number one priority. Illinois should consider providing prospective and growing businesses with increased or even longer-term tax incentives, so long as those incentives include reasonable accountability agreements. Simply put, if you gain a tax break to create jobs, you should be able to show that you created them. Other incentives must also be considered when growing jobs and attracting businesses. Improving school and student performance, ensuring a reliable transit system and ensuring a qualified workforce is necessary. That means continued investment in education and infrastructure."
- Competing for federal funding for education reform:
- "The competitive nature of the Race To The Top initiative gives Illinois a unique incentive and opportunity to improve the performance of our schools. We should identify schools that are boosting student performance and educator accountability. These successful practices should then be applied to poorer performing or failing schools by increasing expectations and increasing incentives to attract achievement-driven administrators and teachers to these schools. Real improvement can only begin when administrators, teachers, reform advocates and student families are willing to partner together to strive for better results. A collaborative effort to better engage parents and guardians has merit – especially in our poorest performing schools. While I find it unfair to hold schools, teachers and students accountable to the results of a single, one-time test, I do support using the results of multiple assessments in identifying the level of achievement in schools."