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Illinois House 81st District Democratic nominee: Anne Stava-Murray

Video by Rich Hein

Democrat Anne Stava-Murray is running against Republican incumbent David Olsen to represent the 81st district in the Illinois House.

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.

Stava-Murray submitted the following answers to our questionnaire, and watch the video above to learn why she’s running for the office.


Please explain what cause or causes you will make priorities.

Stava-Murray: I have called for Speaker Madigan to step down and will not vote for him as Speaker. I support strengthening our democracy by enacting term limits for legislative leaders and increasing competitiveness of elections via improved ballot access, campaign finance reform, and fairer maps. An advocate for the people, I call for pension-reform to come about through adhering to financial best practices. My platform is informed by realistic data and projections from non-partisan think tanks like the Coalition for Tax and Budget Accountability.

Finally, I am committed to… – Responsibly funding education to stem the tide of ever-rising property costs. – Reducing gun-related deaths by voting for popular reforms like gun dealer licensing and initiatives that could reduce self-inflicted deaths. – Protecting public health by funding initiatives that improve access to clean air & water and regulating companies that threaten these basic rights of citizens.

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.

Stava-Murray:

1) Not allowing teachers to have guns in the classroom, which is a proposal currently being considered by the Naperville 203 school board. 2) Increasing safety requirements for companies using known carcinogens, like ethylene oxide, in their production. Specific examples of this could be requiring a certain distance between production facilities and residential areas or enacting fines and reconciliation measures for companies like Sterigenics who have dumped hazardous wastes on site. 3) Proper funding of public transit including Metra rail improvements to increase reliability for commuters and provide more comprehensive local options for our population that wants to age in place.


Who is Anne Stava-Murray?

Her legislative District: 81st House

Her political/civic background:

Appointed to the Naperville Board of Fire & Police by the Naperville Mayor (2017- Present)

Selected by a Non-Partisan Committee as a Student (non-voting) Member of the Naperville Board of Zoning Appeals (2002-2004)

Her occupation;

Full-time Candidate, former Consumer Researcher who worked with a variety of Fortune 500 companies (e.g., Verizon, Disney, Kroger)

Her education

A.B., Dartmouth College, 2008; Benet Academy Class of 2004

Campaign website: www.teamstavamurray.com

Twitter: @teamstavamurray


Please explain what cause or causes you will make priorities.

Stava-Murray: I have called for Speaker Madigan to step down and will not vote for him as Speaker. I support strengthening our democracy by enacting term limits for legislative leaders and increasing competitiveness of elections via improved ballot access, campaign finance reform, and fairer maps. An advocate for the people, I call for pension-reform to come about through adhering to financial best practices. My platform is informed by realistic data and projections from non-partisan think tanks like the Coalition for Tax and Budget Accountability. Finally, I am committed to… – Responsibly funding education to stem the tide of ever-rising property costs. – Reducing gun-related deaths by voting for popular reforms like gun dealer licensing and initiatives that could reduce self-inflicted deaths. – Protecting public health by funding initiatives that improve access to clean air & water and regulating companies that threaten these basic rights of citizens.

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) Not allowing teachers to have guns in the classroom, which is a proposal currently being considered by the Naperville 203 school board. 2) Increasing safety requirements for companies using known carcinogens, like ethylene oxide, in their production. Specific examples of this could be requiring a certain distance between production facilities and residential areas or enacting fines and reconciliation measures for companies like Sterigenics who have dumped hazardous wastes on site. 3) Proper funding of public transit including Metra rail improvements to increase reliability for commuters and provide more comprehensive local options for our population that wants to age in place.

What are the most important differences between you and your opponent? <

Between a 2016 campaign that lasted less than 100 days and his 2018 campaign, my opponent has accepted over $800K in documented funds from his party. It’s unclear how much additional assistance he has received as he has not publicly disclosed all the ways in which his party, including the governor’s campaign, helps him. He has publicly stated that he is a good friend and supporter of the current Republican Leader and will likely support him going forward. I have taken $0 from my party, $0 from the Democratic governor’s campaign, and will not be supporting Madigan to continue as Speaker. I do this so as a representative, I only answer to the voters and don’t give my party any points of leverage to force me to vote in a certain way on any issue. My opponent stays very close to his party’s script and allows them to control much of the messaging that goes out on behalf of him as a candidate. On the other hand, I have a demonstrated record of holding myself to a higher standard than the status quo.


SUN-TIMES 2018 ILLINOIS VOTING GUIDE


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?

Stava-Murray: How concerned people are about Illinois’ population loss is often a proxy for our collective lack of confidence in the future of the state and the feeling that we are heading in the wrong direction. This feeling of uncertainty is well founded by the state failing to pay its bills to the point of state contractors needing to seek new employment to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. Paying the backlog of bills to keep essential services running is non-negotiable. We’re on the brink of a teacher shortage crisis, which has already begun downstate and may spread if not acted upon quickly. Retirees choosing to find sunnier skies has long been a trend that’s held relatively stable.

Middle income earners faced with income tax pressure are a lesser known quantity for staying or going. Some younger parents have looked but are wary of issues with education quality in places facing rapid population growth. On the other end of the spectrum, between 2010 and 2016, Illinois ranked #47 in retaining the increasingly coveted Millennial cohort. Many Millennials that left for college (largely due to expensive public higher ed tuition and concern about stability of its future) have not returned. The several decades of disinvestment in our public institutions and MAP grants during the budget stalemate did not help.

Strengthening public education is mission critical. Among the top eight states for Millennial growth during this same time period, five have legalized recreational adult marijuana usage and seven of eight have legalized some form of medical marijuana. Ending the prohibition era for adult marijuana usage (age 21+) would likely increase IL among Millennials’ consideration set.

In 2017, our state’s unfunded pension liability ballooned to more than $130 billion. What’s to be done about that?

Stava-Murray: We must fix the payment plan for pension debt so we are no longer accruing interest at a breakneck pace. The existing plan leeches money from taxpayers to a wealthy few banks and financial backers, while increasing what we owe in the future.

My plan relies on reducing long-term costs by infusing additional revenue into payments through a threefold plan:

  • Issuing pension obligation bonds
  • Ending the prohibition on adult (21+) recreational usage of marijuana and regulating/taxing those sales
  • Repealing the failed flat tax mandate from our state constitution

The new revenue plan I have above aligns two goals often unnecessarily pitted against each other: economic growth and a fairer economy. Beyond being a revenue source, marijuana prohibition has been a law that is unequally enforced on the basis of someone’s skin color. Removing it is a step towards justice and freeing up law enforcement bandwidth to protect public safety in much more dangerous areas.

With these additional revenues, we can pay down pension debt in a more aggressive manner, cutting costs to financiers by an estimated $67B between today and FY2045. My opponent disagrees with policy experts on the need to increase short-term payments with additional revenue and continues to focus on reducing benefits, which account for 1% of the pension liability. via Policies like a “voluntary lump sum payment” opt out won’t begin to touch our long-term problem.

Further, his reliance unspecified spending cuts and vague promises of economic growth as the primary means to balance the budget waste precious time. His platform ignores the exponential growth rate of unfunded pension debt liabilities and leaves Illinoisans on the path towards financial disaster. We must change our representation to someone who is willing to do the hard work to solve this problem in a long-term way.

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?

Stava-Murray: First of all, this statistic does not seem to be weighted for changes in number of IL students enrolling in college between 2000 and 2016. While the raw number has increased for out of state, it does not tell us if the ratio of those who are attending out of state to in state has also increased, which would be a more accurate metric to track enrollment trends. With that caveat noted, Illinois has relatively high rates of tuition for in-state students, relatively low rates of scholarships, and a small endowment in comparison to other institutions of higher learning.

High cost and an uncertainty about the commitment of the state to improving the dire situation many state universities have been put into by decades of disinvestment and highly public impacts by the recent budget impasse hurt IL state schools when college bound students are determining (often with the input of their parents) where to go. Several initiatives to make IL state schools more competitive were just signed into law, including but not limited to scholarships and funding. These efforts should be tracked, monitored, and evaluated for effectiveness as we move forward to ensure the most effective efforts are expanded and potential waste is reduced.

What laws, if any, should the Legislature pass to address the problem of gun violence?

Stava-Murray: There are multiple types of gun violence that need to be addressed. The most common type of gun violence is self-inflicted, and can be addressed through “Means Matter” style initiatives as outlined by the Harvard School of Public Health. Secondly, we need to be addressing gun violence where someone who shouldn’t have a gun uses said gun to take someone else’s life. There are several types of legislation that can work to reduce this outcome, including but not limited to: passing and enforcing gun dealer licensing, incentivizing local law enforcement to disarm individuals whose FOID card has been revoked, and creating proactive legislation to deal with the looming era of 3D printed guns. Finally, we need to increase public safety by reducing the potential deadliness of mass shootings by increasing regulations for the production, purchase, and usage of guns with high capacity magazines.

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?

Stava-Murray: It would absolutely be appropriate for the IL legislature to pass “fair scheduling” laws that look to the Oregon legislation as a jumping off point, which are in place for companies with over 500 employees worldwide. Key features would include a requirement for a good faith estimate of work schedule at the time of hire that: states the median number of hours the employee is expected to working in an average month; explains the voluntary standby list; and sets an objective standard for working on-call shifts.

With the scheduling software, employers should also have access to data that allows them to predict labor needs based on prior years and give employees appropriate levels of notice for their schedule. Employers would be required to give at least 7 calendar days notice before the start of each schedule, which would include all work and “on call” shifts. This type of legislation helps employees who need to hold multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet increase their reliability. More reliable service and better working conditions improve the experience for all Illinois residents who shop at large retailers.

Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.

Stava-Murray: Yes, explained in above answers. We would need to ensure that legalization includes provisions for public safety, which would include impaired driving. “Breathalyzers” for marijuana aren’t necessary to judge impairment – probably cause for pulling over could be similar for alcohol impairment or texting and driving, including dangerous behaviors like multiple lane departures. Field sobriety tests could set the standard for impaired consciousness that could result from other substances as well (e.g., prescription medication) that don’t have a breathalyzer to enforce prohibition while driving. Based on the data of states that have already legalized marijuana, the majority of auto fatalities that may have involved marijuana also most often involve alcohol intoxication; so best practices regarding DUI practices would cover those concerns.

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?

Stava-Murray: Preventing life-threatening addictions should be a key priority for legislation. There are a number of CDC recommended approaches to implement, which Illinois has received some funding to begin working on: source for following information: CDC website

  1. Maximizing PDMPs (prescription drug monitoring programs) – Moving toward universal registration and use – Making PDMPs easier to use and access – Making PDMP data more timely – Expanding and improving proactive PDMP reporting to identify and address inappropriate prescribing patterns – Using PDMP data to better understand the nature of the prescription drug overdose epidemic
  2. Community or Insurer/Health Systems Interventions – Providing technical assistance to high-burden communities and counties – Improving opioid prescribing interventions for insurers and health systems – Enhancing use of evidence-based opioid prescribing guidelines
  3. Policy Evaluations – Evaluating interventions to better understand what works to prevent prescription drug overdoses
  4. Rapid Response Project – Implementing a project to advance an innovative prevention approach and respond to new and emerging crises and opportunities

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?

Stava-Murray: I agree with the vast majority of the objectives and substance of the Act. I believe we need to do more to have a net carbon neutral footprint, including reducing coal-protectionists provisions included in this act. Further, I think we need to increase regulation of consumption of coal energy from neighbor states so companies don’t move to skirt IL environmental regulations. Finally, I believe we need to evaluate any other unintended consequences of this act to ensure it is fulfilling the objectives it set out to meet.

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?

Stava-Murray: I believe there needs to be much greater contract transparency for how program money is being allocated. By providing contract and cost transparency (including sub-contracts that are created by the overarching contractor), government watchdogs can analyze spending to ensure that dollars aren’t being funneled into any questionable directions or areas where there might be conflicts of interest for elected officials. Further, the state needs to pay its bills in a timely manner so there is increased choice for service among Medicaid recipients.

Since many providers have stopped taking Medicaid due to lack of payment by the state, there are hidden increased costs in running the program (e.g., less preventative care because there’s a longer wait time to get in to see a PCP; ending up in the emergency room because a specialist couldn’t be seen on time and an illness that shouldn’t become life threatening has; higher transportation costs to get to a doctor further away).

Finally, there is a strong ethical incentive for the state to work with medical providers and hospitals to reduce unconscious racial bias in providing service. Far too often, Medicare recipients who are also people of color receive sub-par treatment (e.g., missed/late diagnoses, higher maternal mortality rates), which increases stress in interactions with the health system, potentially higher costs, and most importantly- preventable deaths.

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?

Stava-Murray: This is absolutely a legitimate concern, as working while incarcerated sets a person up to hold employment and have a more successful reentry into society post-incarceration. Further, it has the potential to reduce recidivism rates, lessening the overall crime rate within our state. Employers need skilled workers, and allowing inmates to access services and opportunities for work also benefits companies who will employ these workers who have served their time for their crimes and built up their skills along the way. We need to properly fund services related to education and work opportunities.

Should the state restore the practice of parole for people sentenced to long terms? Why or why not? According to the latest data, there is a case to be made for parole to be used for people serving long-terms – particularly for those who did not have several prior offenses. The rate of parolees going on to commit a new criminal offense is quite low when policies are effectively enacted. Our current era of mass incarceration needs to end and the restoration of parole programs is critical in doing so.

RELATED

ENDORSEMENT: David S. Olsen for Illinois House in the 81st District

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.