On Oct. 2, Matthew J. Hunt appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. Watch the video above to find out why he’s running for the Illinois House of Representatives in the 37th District in the 2018 general election.
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent nominees for the Illinois House of Representatives a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois and their districts. Hunt submitted the following responses:
Please explain what cause or causes you will make priorities.
Hunt: This question really goes hand-in-hand with question #2 in which I will dive a bit deeper into my top three priorities.
My 3 main priorities are:
- Property Taxes
- School Funding
- Mental Health funding
Please list three concerns that are highly specific to your district, such as a project that should be undertaken or a state policy related to some local issue that must be changed.
1.) Property taxes. Property taxes, in addition to other state taxes, are placing a financial burden on residents within the 37th District. Majority of the property tax bill encompasses the local community funding schools. Increasing state funding for education should help alleviate the rise of local property taxes.
2.) School Funding. I believe that education is the key to getting ahead in life, and I will fight to get fair funding for our schools. Ill ensure that our region receives the resources that our children need to succeed and get a good job, whether that’s college, trade school, or other job training.
3.). Mental Health Funding. It is evident in our community that hospital emergency rooms are becoming overcrowded due to patients with mental illnesses. With the closure of our local mental health hospital, the state must invest more money in providing care to those struggling with a mental illness.
Who is Matthew J. Hunt?
He’s running for: 37th State Representative District
His political/civic background: Matthew Hunt was born and raised in the Southwest Suburbs of Chicagoland and is one of two kids of Larry and Mary Hunt. As a child, Matt attended public grammar schools in both Tinley Park and Orland Park and then went onto attend high school at Marist.
After high school, Matt went onto pursue his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration—Economics at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. After graduating from Creighton, Matt came back to Illinois and held a variety of careers to give him the broad business background that Matt has today. In 2002, Matt decided to bring his breadth of business experience to his family’s property and casualty insurance agency, Hunt Insurance Group, where Matt marks the 3rd generation. His agency proudly serves the insurance needs of businesses, organized labor, trade associations, families and individuals since 1957.
Matt and his wife, Joy, live near historic downtown Frankfort along with their rescued Australian Cattle Dog and German Shepherd. Matt is the proud father of two children (16 year old daughter and a 13 year old son). Matt and his family are very active and love to head over to the Old Plank Trail for a run or bike ride. You can usually find the Hunts dinning out in the District’s fantastic restaurant options.
Matt also gives of his time to numerous political and non-political appointments, non-profit organizations, and sports organizations. Below are a few of the organizations that Matt is or has worked with over the years:
- Board Member of the Illinois State Fire Marshall Elevator Safety Division
- Trustee of the Palos Heights Police Pension Board
- Immediate past Board Chairman of Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanic Gardens
- St. Jude Ice Hockey House Program Hockey Director
- Head Ice Hockey Coach for St. Jude Knights at the 12U age level
- Previous Assistant Softball Coach with the 16U Mizuno Hawks
His occupation: Property & Casualty Insurance Agent
His education: Creighton University, B.S.B.A
Campaign website: MatthewHuntforIL.com
What are the most important differences between you and your opponent?
Hunt: My opponent has practically been the most inefficient legislator in Springfield. There are countless pieces of legislation that she could have easily voted for, but she chose to participate in the “Party of No.” She has voted against funding for our schools, veterans, social services and the list goes on and on. What is the most striking is that she votes against women. She has voted against breast and cervical cancer screenings, expanding sick leave for domestic violence victims. Most recently, she sat in her seat and did not vote at all for the Equal Rights Amendment, which provided that all rights granted in the constitution apply equally to all persons regardless of their sex.
Illinois is now the sixth-most populated state, down from No. 5, after 33,703 people moved out between July 2016 and July 2017. What must the Legislature do to make Illinois a more desirable place to live?
Hunt: As I mention below in a comment, we need to have stability and certainty in Springfield. The Legislature must come together, work to together, and place party politics aside and do the work that we’re elected to do. Passing Balanced Budgets, Funding Our Schools, Funding Mental Health Programs, Fixing Our Crumbling Infrastructure, and so on and so on. I am firmly committed to working for the 37th Legislative District in Springfield for the betterment of my District and the State of Illinois.
In 2017, our state’s unfunded pension liability ballooned to more than $130 billion. What’s to be done about that?
Hunt: A large factor to our State’s pension crisis is borrowing from the pension funds dating back to 1994. This borrowing was to be repaid under what is known as the Pension Ramp established under Gov. Edgar. The Pension Ramp is one the largest factors contributing to the unfunded pension liability. I believe that we, as a State, need to re-amortize the pension debt repayment. Yes, in the near term this may ‘sting’ a bit, but over the long term this strategy should prove beneficial to our tax payers, pensioners, and our great State.
From 2000 to 2016, the number of Illinois residents who enrolled as college freshmen outside the state increased by 73% (20,507 to 35,445). Why are so many more Illinois residents going to college elsewhere? What should be done to encourage more of them to go to school here?
Hunt: Stability & Certainty. These two words do not come out of parent’s mouths when it comes to colleges and universities in Illinois. With over 700 days of not pass a budget, Illinois high education institutions were on the verge of closing. Parents do not want to send their children to a university that is not going to be in existence or have the threat of increasing tuition looming above them. It is my goal to, first, ensure that we have a balanced budget which prioritizes education. If there is no budget, then I am willing not to get paid. That is the right thing to do. Next, I will ensure that middle class families can first, afford to attend our universities. Illinois Promise is a good start towards making college more affordable for working class families. I will work with university leaders to craft a plan to help families afford school.
What laws, if any, should the Legislature pass to address the problem of gun violence?
Hunt: We, as a state need to work to enact laws to help prevent the flow of illegal guns or guns purchased illegally from entering the state of Illinois. Yes, we in Illinois do have some of the toughest gun laws in the country, but surrounding states such as Indiana, Missouri, and Wisconsin have much weaker laws. Thus this allows for non law abiding citizens to acquire firearms that may or may not be used in violent crimes. I would like to explore the idea of seeking Federal prosecution for those who traffic or assist in the trafficking firearms into Illinois for the sole purpose of committing a violent crime.
We need to also be certain that our mental health professionals are reporting individuals that are receiving mental health treatment or are determined to be a clear and present danger, developmentally disabled or intellectually disabled as authorized under the FOID Mental Health Reporting System. The Lethal Violence Order of Protection (HB2354) was signed into law to by Gov. Rauner is a good first step in helping to prevent guns from getting into the hands of those who have a mental illness or those who have a propensity for violence.
On-demand scheduling software now helps large retail companies determine how many staff members they will need on a day-to-day or even hour-to-hour basis. The downside is that employees may not receive their work schedules until the last minute. Oregon and a number of cities have responded by adopting “fair scheduling” laws. Would it be appropriate for the Illinois Legislature to pass a “fair scheduling” law? Please explain. What would such a law look like?
Hunt: The advent of on-demand scheduling software is definitely on the rise across the country. It is my understanding that this software is tied into a stores Point of Sale system and tracks data regarding store sales. This software then works to predict (based upon historical store sales) what the appropriate staffing level should be. While on the face it seems to be a nice tool for retail staff scheduling, the downside is the last minute nature of employees receiving their work schedule. We have all been in a situation where you plan a day around a work schedule and then show up only to find out that your schedule has been altered or even worse you’re sent home for the day. This last minute scheduling or the uncertainty of work schedules until the last minute causes an undue burden on employees who have to schedule child care, train or bus schedules, parking fees, etc. House Bill 5046 (filed on 02/14/2018 by Rep. Welch) seeks to protect those employees who have an annualized hourly pay greater than $50,000/year in that employees would have to be notified of work schedule changes or cancellations at least 72 hours ahead of time. As an individual who has worked in retail and now operates a 3rd generation family business I can and do see the positives and negatives of both the software and the proposed law. I would offer to establish round table discussion(s) with retail business owners and retail employees who reside within my District to obtain their thoughts and opinions.
Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.
Hunt: The idea of the possible legalization of recreational marijuana is an interesting one in a few areas. First, the legalization of recreational marijuana would offer our State an additional source of tax revenue which would help to lessen the tax burden of taxpayers. In some preliminary research, it is interesting to note that the States of Colorado and Oregon where recreational marijuana is legal have brought in more than $140 Million and more than $60 Million respectively. Additionally medical researchers have found that marijuana can be an better alternative to opioid usage for pain management. As discussed below, the opioid crisis is sweeping the nation and leading to drug overdoses, and in opioids account for 75% of drug overdoses in Illinois according to an Illinois Department of Public Health study. I think that from the potential state revenue benefit and an alternative to opioids, it is time for the state Legislature to deeply explore the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Opioid overdoses and fatalities continue to rise in number. In Illinois in 2017, there were 13,395 opioid overdoses, including 2,110 deaths. What should the Legislature do, if anything, about this?
Hunt: The Opioid crisis is a real and growing problem throughout Illinois and the United States. The state Legislature should work together to authorize our State Attorney General to pursue prosecution similar to that of the Tobacco Settlement of 1998. We, as a state, need to bring big-pharma to the mat and have them answer for the issues our citizens are facing due to the consistent pushing of opioid drugs.
The Future Energy Jobs Act, passed in 2016, is generating job growth in renewable energy and improving energy efficiency. Do you agree or disagree with the objectives and substance of the Act? What more — or less — should be done?
Hunt: The Future Energy Jobs Act which passed in 2016 appears to be a win-win-win all around. The Act creates jobs with new money into energy renewability, efficiency and innovation. The Act better positions Illinois, as a state, to be a leader in clean energy thus attracting new companies to Illinois, and finally helps to keep our energy rates low for homeowners and business alike. Given the above where all parties (job creation, position Illinois as a leader in renewable energy thus helping to attract new companies to our State, and keeping costs low for our citizens and businesses alike, unlike my opponent I do agree with the bill (SB2814 Dec. 01, 2016).
What would you do to ensure the long-term viability of the state’s Medicaid program? What is your view on managed care for Medicaid beneficiaries?
Hunt: According to the Medical Assistance Program Annaul report for Fiscal Year 2017, the number of individuals receiving Medicaid Assistance has remained relatively flat. Granted, it is not a tell tale sign of what the future may hold of enrollees into the program, but if we as as a State continue to monitor enrollee data and adjust accordingly the long term viability should prove out to be stable. We, as the Legislature, need to ensure that balanced budgets are put forth and passed and monies are directed and utilized efficiently, and truly explore alternative tax revenue streams for the State so we work to avoid going back to tax payers to foot the bill. The over 700 day budget impasse has placed a large burden on many many state programs and their providers and to that end we have to work out of the whole that was created by Gov. Rauner.
Regarding Managed Care for Medicaid beneficiaries, is a decent idea in theory, but we as a state cannot dictate extremely low reimbursement rates to medical providers which will drive providers out of the program. Additionally, we need to address the every rising cost of prescription medication which is an issue that doesn’t effect Medicaid beneficiaries but rather effects us all. I hear story after story from individuals and families within my District that are financially strapped due to this ever rising cost of necessary medication.
Underfunding at the Department of Corrections has led to troubling findings by the auditor general that many inmates don’t receive services or opportunities for work while incarcerated. Is this a legitimate concern? What should the Legislature do?
Hunt: Once again, Gov. Rauner’s 700 day budget impasse has placed a large burden on a wide variety of State programs, vendors, and beneficiaries. For those incarcerated in our State or County prison systems it is no secret that a portion of those within prison population suffer from a wide variety of issues ranging from mental health disorders and health issues to physical ailments. Additionally, we need to offer work training programs within our Correctional System so that once an individual is paroled or released from the System they are better equipped to find work which will hopefully lessen the recidivism rate in Illinois. By working with the DOC to ensure that inmates receive the mental and health services needed as well as inmate work training this will hopefully prove out to lessen the recidivism rate which will in turn lessen the tax burden on tax payers.
Should the state restore the practice of parole for people sentenced to long terms? Why or why not?
Hunt: The practice of parole for individuals who receive long term sentences should be evaluated due to overpopulated prisons which places a great strain on those individuals working with the State and County Departments of Corrections, staffing issues, and the overall financial burden that is passed along to tax payers in one fashion or another. Now, I do not support parole for those convicted of long term sentences for violent crimes or sex crimes, but I do support the evaluation of a well vetted plan that is developed by key stake holders from the various Department of Corrections, Parole Review Boards, and representatives from our State and County Attorney General offices. Again, proper vetting and monitoring is key to the idea of parole for those serving to long term sentences.
Ahead of the historic 2018 elections, the Sun-Times is teaming up weekly with the Better Government Association, in print and online, to fact-check the truthfulness of the candidates. You can find all of the PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported together here.