On Oct. 15, Bob Morgan 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 58th 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. Bob Morgan submitted the following responses:
Please explain what cause or causes you will make priorities.
Morgan: As an experienced healthcare attorney, I will fight to reduce health insurance premiums and expand healthcare coverage to the uninsured in Illinois. Additionally, I will focus on repairing the damage done to our state by the irresponsible policies of Bruce Rauner. Our schools – including both higher education and K-12 – suffered, our social service system was damaged, and our State needs needs to work together in a bipartisan fashion to fix the mess.
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.
Morgan: I will always fight to protect the quality of public education here in the district. My district places a significant premium on public education and it is one of the reasons my wife and I moved to this community for our children, but it is also one of the reasons our property taxes are so high which leads into the second priority. Property taxes in the 58th District are some of the highest in the state, increasingly due to the rigged property tax assessments in Lake County.
I am committed to working with legislators from both sides of the aisle in Springfield in order to pass property tax relief so that we are not pricing families and empty nesters out of our communities while still protecting the public schools’ funding. Lastly, the district’s entire eastern border is Lake Michigan, which is one of the greatest natural resources in the United States. With the U.S. EPA decimated and with threats like Scott Walker to the north, I will fight to protect those resources here.
Who is Bob Morgan?
He’s running for: Illinois House of Representatives, 58th District
His political/civic background:
- Active Board Member of the Anti-Defamation League
- Serves on the Board of Trustees of Equip for Equality
- Chair of the West Deerfield Township Democrats
- Past Jewish Outreach Director for Hillary Clinton
- Active member of Temple BJBE in Deerfield
His occupation: Attorney
- B.A. in Political Science degree from the University of Illinois—Champaign
- J.D. from Northern Illinois University College of Law
Campaign website: bobmorganforillinois.com
What are the most important differences between you and your opponent?
Morgan: The biggest difference is that like Trump and Rauner, my opponent doesn’t view the solutions for the State of Illinois as necessary and he would continue the disastrous status quo we need to change. I will support our excellent public schools, protect a woman’s right to choose, and fight for gun safety legislation.
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?
Morgan: There is no single reason why residents are leaving Illinois. Government debt and dysfunction, a weak housing market, and lack of job opportunity all contribute to the trends we are seeing. We should stop treating this issue with the traditional partisan approach common in Springfield and I will work with my peers when in Springfield to address this trend with analysis and realistic solutions.
The best thing we can do to retain residents and businesses is to provide some stability in state government, which starts with a functioning state budget. Attracting new residents, business, students and retirees to Illinois should be a priority and we need a comprehensive plan to enhance our competitiveness in each of these areas.
In 2017, our state’s unfunded pension liability ballooned to more than $130 billion. What’s to be done about that?
Morgan: The State of Illinois must negotiate a fair solution to this problem that has support from the people who have earned pensions. Going back on our promises because legislators failed to make proper payments is not an option. I will work toward a fair and equitable solution for all who receive pensions. The recently passed Pilot Program, with a voluntary “consideration” model, is a good step in keeping our promise to retirees with a pension while paving a constitutional path to reducing our pension debts.
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?
Morgan: The chaos in our budget and decades of limited state funding contributed to an already serious problem of tuition increases. Our institutions of higher education need our support and that starts with a budget process that includes them in the conversation and a realization that school affordability is a key driver of student attendance.
What laws, if any, should the Legislature pass to address the problem of gun violence?
Morgan: I will be a strong voice in Springfield advocating for the creation of sensible gun control measures to protect our children and communities from the trauma of mass shootings and hand gun violence. This includes gun safety laws such as gun dealer licensing, effective universal background checks, closing gun show loopholes, ending straw purchases, and stemming the flow of illegal weapons pouring into Illinois from neighboring states. I also fully support the recent assault weapon bans by Highland Park, Deerfield and Northbrook, and will push for a statewide assault weapons ban.
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?
Morgan: I would be supportive of this measure and would look to the provision currently introduced in the City Council in Chicago for parameters that we could adopt at the State level. Some specific issues would include employee input into scheduling, notice of schedule requirements for large employers in excess of three days and up to two weeks, and compensation for last-minute changes that were not out of the control of employers.
Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.
Morgan: Yes. I support recreational marijuana from a public health and criminal justice reform perspective. There’s no need to treat this any differently than how we treat alcohol use. It should be permissible for recreational use, regulated, taxed, and prohibited for use by children, teens and young adults.
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?
Morgan: The legislature should work with the Governor, our representatives in Washington, and state and local governments to do everything we can to address this issue. First, we have to provide alternative options to treat and manage pain. This includes alternative therapies to manage pain and encouraging healthcare providers to reach for prescription painkillers as a last resort and not a first. I was pleased to see the Governor and legislature come together to expand the category of uses for medical marijuana to include severe pain and to see law enforcement and substance abuse treatment providers further integrated with SB 3023.
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?
Morgan: Yes, I am supportive of this legislation and its goals. I think the next steps should be providing additional funding and incentives to execute more projects under the framework of the law. Demand exists right now to build clean energy projects, but there is insufficient incentives available to supercharge this law. We should work to identify new streams of funding to make these goals a reality.
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?
Morgan: As one of the individuals who worked on its implementation in Illinois, I will be a strong defender of the Affordable Care Act with whatever tools we have available at the State level to shore up our Medicaid program and participating healthcare providers. In order to ensure the long-term viability of the State’s Medicaid program, we should stop making short-term budget cuts and managed care decisions that only get us through the next fiscal year.
Medicaid expansion in Illinois was the right step under federal resources of the Affordable Care Act, but managed care only works if we improve the healthcare outcomes of our Medicaid system. I look forward to being active an active participant in improving Medicaid in Illinois.
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?
Morgan: The criminal justice system in Illinois and across the country is broken. The General Assembly needs to work with providers and shift the focus from incarceration to rehabilitation in and out of prison. We cannot expect recidivism rates to change when offenders are not given meaningful work or treated for the conditions that might have led to their incarceration in the first place.
Should the state restore the practice of parole for people sentenced to long terms? Why or why not?
Morgan: Reinstating parole is a part of the solution as well. Research shows (and Oregon’s policies prove) that parole decrease recidivism. We, as state legislators, have an obligation to pursue these investments because they will save lives and money over the long-term.
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.