The Chicago Sun-Times sent the candidates seeking nominations 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.
Batinick submitted the following responses to our questionnaire, and watch the video above to find out why he’s running.
Please explain what cause or causes you will make priorities.
Batinick: I will continue to address Illinois’ sky-high property taxes, inefficient government, and corrupt culture. I have several videos, policy papers, and opinion pieces on my website addressing the property tax issue. I have pushed for several concepts that have finally become law that address some of our inefficiencies but there is much more to do. I led the 10 representatives that voted against the appointment of Auditor General Frank Mautino. He is now under Federal Investigation and has refused to explain his financial irregularities. It is absolutely appalling that the legislation to remove him from office has not been called for a vote.
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.
Batinick: While property taxes are high across Illinois, they are exceptionally high in the 97th district with some areas at 4% of market value. I will continue to push for policies that lower property taxes. Transportation is also an issue locally. The managed lane project on I-55 would be a welcome project. There is no good reason that this project has not been started as it can be completed with sources of revenue outside of the state’s general budget. The Governor also recently signed a partial grant that will help alleviate some of the congestion in downtown Plainfield. Getting this project completed is a must for the local economic health of the area.
Who is Mark Batinick?
His legislative district: 97th State Representative District
His political/civic background: 25 years of coaching youth sports, member of local business chambers, local small business owner, volunteer for countless local events, former precinct committeeman, State Representative since 2015.
His occupation: Commercial Realtor
His education: University of Illinois Business Education 1992
What are the most important differences between you and your opponent?
Batinick: Over 90% of my opponent’s funding has come from committees controlled by Mike Madigan. I have signed a pledge not to vote for Mike Madigan for Speaker of the House, my opponent has not. Even before being elected I was helping others get elected for the purpose of ending local corruption and waste. I worked with the people who took over Wheatland Township, helped them stop an unnecessary building from being built, and consolidated properties. Because of those efforts, the Township was able to abate property taxes to $0 for an entire year. I have years of videos and articles going back well before I was elected that address waste and corruption in government. I have yet to find any policy papers or serious positions from my opponent. She has only been sending deceitful mail that has been addressed by this paper in a recent article. That contrasts with my dinner series in which I have invited the entire district to dinner a few neighborhoods at a time where residents have the ability to ask me any question they want in a group setting. I am open an extremely transparent about what my positions are and what I want to accomplish as a State Representative.
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?
Batinick: We have great natural and man-made resources. From our farmland, transportation infrastructure, educated workforce, strategic location, and access to fresh water we are one of the most fortunate states in the nation. Illinois should be thriving. It really just comes down to poor leadership at the Capitol. We need to restore trust. Too many Illinois politicians are worried about keeping their job or getting their next job that they are not doing their job. We need to elect leaders who are serious about solving our issues and offer serious solutions.
In 2017, our state’s unfunded pension liability ballooned to more than $130 billion. What’s to be done about that?
Batinick: There is no silver bullet. However, there are many actions that can be taken. After 3 years of pushing the concept, I am happy to see that the optional “Batinick Buyout” has finally become law. There are some annuitants that will be better served having more control over their own finances. As a member of the pension committee I am stunned at the number of bills that get passed that increase pension benefits. There needs to be a moratorium on that. Illinois’ growth rate has under-performed the nation’s. A stronger economy with people moving in instead of out would be of great help. A booming economy hides a lot of flaws. Finally, we need to flatten out the pension ramp. I have a 5 minute video on my website that addressing this option.
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?
Batinick: As a father of 5 children who just had his first two leave the state for college I am keenly aware of the issue. Middle class families that don’t qualify for much aid make the easy decision to leave the state where tuition and fees are less. As mentioned in the question, this is not a recent issue. Most people are shocked to hear that it is not just a funding problem. Before that budget crisis, Illinois ranked as one of the highest supporters of higher education per student in the nation. Yet we still had high tuition with students leaving. The reason is that the same regulatory climate that makes it expensive to run a business in Illinois also makes it expensive to run a university. Universities have insurance costs, etc.
That is coupled with a mountain of mandates that increase cost more. We have started to address some of our procurement issues, but there is still more work to be done. We have not begun to address our regulatory climate. A higher percentage of money needs to make it to the classroom.
What laws, if any, should the Legislature pass to address the problem of gun violence?
Batinick: There are direct and indirect ways to address the issue. Directly, getting guns out of the hands of the mentally ill has always been a concept I have supported. That is why I voted yes on the “Gun Restraining Order” bill. Mandatory minimums for violent gun offenders is necessary too. The alleged criminal that shot Commander Bauer at the Thompson Center earlier this year had a long arrest record that included multiple gun crimes. He should not have been out on the street. Unfortunately, Illinois Democrats have made it clear in both committee and on the House floor that there will be no “enhanced penalties” passed. I believe this absolutist policy is wrong.
Indirectly, the break up of the family, a lack of low-skill job opportunities in parts of the state, and a lack of access to quality education for some are problems that need to be addressed to fully see a long-term solution.
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?
Batinick: A strong economy with multiple employment opportunities for workers is the best way to solve the problem. Having an environment where people can choose other work would force retailers to react appropriately. One of the biggest issues with the proposal is that I am unsure how it could work in weather-related industries like construction.
Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.
Batinick: Illinois needs to stop looking for easy ways to find revenue and instead focus on growth. Both the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois Sheriff’s Association are against legalizing recreational marijuana. They cite increases in traffic deaths, crime, and addiction by youths in the states that have legalized marijuana over the past five years. I do not see clear evidence that this would be a benefit for the state.
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?
Batinick: This is a serious and growing issue. It is a major concern in my area. I recently spoke with our county Coroner about the issue. We are finally starting to see both education of citizens and doctors about the dangers of some of the pharmaceuticals that were previously prescribed so freely.
Also, there are many people in prison who would be better served spending time in rehab. The state needs to do a better job of differentiating between the two.
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?
Batinick: The bill was a massive increase in electric rates that subsidized facilities that send much of their power out of state. While there were components of the bill that were worthy, it was really just another corporate bailout on the backs of the over-taxed citizens of the state of Illinois.
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?
Batinick: Based on the initial results it remains to be seen whether or not having Managed Care Organizations is the best solution to decreasing costs. Specific ways to decrease costs is to clear the rolls and make it harder for out-of-state residents to use medicaid. Twice yearly income reviews of participants would likely decrease participation by individuals with fluctuating income. Co-pays for individuals with higher incomes would also help with viability.
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?
Batinick: It is a concern. Services for inmates are stepping stones back into society. Whether it be mental health, drug addiction, or training. Work programs give inmates the opportunity to see themselves in a future without crimes. A few dollars of prevention prevents many dollars of cost of rehabilitating the same individual over and over.
Should the state restore the practice of parole for people sentenced to long terms? Why or why not?
Batinick: While I have an open mind on all issues, this is not an issue I have studied. I can state that I would be clearly concerned about offering parole for those convicted of violent crimes.
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.