Republican Alyssia Benford is challenging Democrat Natalie Manley in the 98th district race in the Illinois House.
On Oct. 9, Benford appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. Watch the video above to find out why she’s running for the Illinois House of Representatives in the 98th 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. Benford submitted the following responses:
Please explain what cause or causes you will make priorities.
Benford: The number one issue I hear from residents is property taxes. We must focus on reducing those costs and reforming our property tax system so people can afford to stay in their homes. Additionally, we must reform our pension system to control costs and set our state on a path to a brighter fiscal future. I am also passionate about education funding and ensuring our children have access to a quality education, regardless of where they live.
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.
a. Adjust the service tax fee that was implemented – it needs to be reduced or eliminated.
b. The I-55 corridor expansion should be completed and at the lowest cost to taxpayers.
c. Reforming property taxes by reducing the unfunded mandates placed on local governments. Local government should have more flexibility to spend their money the way they choose.
Who is Alyssia Benford?
She’s running for: State Representative 98th District Her political/civic background:
- DuPage Township Trustee
- Former positions:Bolingbrook Pension Board Trustee, President
- Bolingbrook Area Chamber of Commerce, Financial Secretary
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated; Chi Sigma Omega Chapter, President and Treasurer
- Rotary Club of Bolingbrook
Her occupation: Certified Public Accountant Her education:
- B.S. – Accounting
- Master’s degree – Government Accounting
- Doctoral Candidate – Educational Leadership And Policy
Campaign website: alyssiabenford.com Twitter: @electbenford
What are the most important differences between you and your opponent?
Benford: A. I have been a practicing licensed CPA for over 23 years’ and a small business owner for over 20 years. This background gives me great insight in to some of the biggest issues facing our state – getting our fiscal house in order, and helping businesses grow so we can increase family incomes.
B. I am very active in my community.
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?
Benford: Make Illinois a business-friendly state. Economic reforms that will create jobs and encourage growth will help raise family incomes and give residents confidence in a bright future in Illinois, not elsewhere. For far too many decades Speaker Madigan has put the needs of his special interest allies before the people of our state.
In 2017, our state’s unfunded pension liability ballooned to more than $130 billion. What’s to be done about that?
Benford: We have to enact pension reform that will make it less expensive for the state to provide pension benefits. One of the most popular solutions is to move to a defined contribution plan. I would love to explore some of the potential of this plan.
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?
Benford: Many Illinois residents go out of the state because other states make college tuition more affordable. We must work to lower tuition costs and provide more benefits to students that stay in Illinois.
What laws, if any, should the Legislature pass to address the problem of gun violence?
Benford: Stricter laws and stiffer penalties for those violating the law. An overwhelming majority of gun crimes in Illinois take place in the City of Chicago. We need to endure that criminals who commit these crimes are serving the mandatory minimum sentences. Far too often they are let off with a slap on the wrist.
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?
Benford: As a business owner I would not like the power of scheduling to be dictated by the government. There is already too much government interference in Illinois business.
Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.
Benford: No I do not support 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?
Benford: This serious issue will take input from all stakeholders to combat. We should ensure that patients have access to other forms of treatment to reduce dependency on opioids. Additionally, we should be working with law enforcement and the medical community to reduce overdoses.
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?
Benford: Programs that are successful in creating jobs are beneficial for our state to strive.
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?
Benford: We should add cost saving measures to the current program and require participants to recertify more often to ensure they are still eligible to receive benefits. For providers, we should implement procedures to detect fraud and abuse.
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?
Benford: Inmates should be afforded an opportunity to improve their life, return to school, gain employment, etc. so they can be productive members of society.
Should the state restore the practice of parole for people sentenced to long terms? Why or why not?
Benford: That would depend on the crime.
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.