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Illinois House 98th District Democratic nominee: Natalie A. Manley

Video by Rich Hein

Democrat Natalie Manley is the Sun-Times’ endorsed candidate in the Illinois House of Representatives in the 98th District race.

On Oct. 9, Manley appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. Watch the video above to find out why she’s running for re-election to 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. Natalie Manley submitted the following responses:

Please explain what cause or causes you will make priorities.

Manley: I’ve spent the last six years listening to constituents and community leaders across my district. Each year the people of the 98th district discuss with me their concerns about making sure that their children are safe and well educated. They also express dissatisfaction with the state for failing to provide adequate funding for our schools which equates to escalating property taxes. That’s why my top priorities are: property tax reform, adequate funding for education, public safety, and public health.

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.

Manley: As stated above, my priorities are driven by the concerns of the people I represent. Crushing property taxes and a lack of funding from the state for our public schools was the key driver in my support and the passage of SB 1947, which allocated an additional $350 million dollars to our schools and provides real property tax relief. Solidifying these policies, long-term, will create stability for school administrators that have been forced to grapple with constant state funding uncertainty. Providing proper funding to our schools will not only bring resources to our students but will lift the burden from the backs of property tax payers.

For the past six years, I‘ve made it a priority to meet with constituents throughout my district on a weekly basis. Senior citizens and retirees represent a significant portion of my district’s population. During these meetings, concerns about public safety and public health are a recurring theme. Responding to the concerns of those I represent, I voted on many bills for common sense gun reforms including: (1) a ban on the sale or purchase on military style rifles (HB 4107), (2) voting to strengthen background checks by gun dealer licensing (SB 337), and (3) banning the sale of bump stocks (HB 1467). Additionally, and specifically speaking to public health, I’ve voted and carried legislation that directly affects the ongoing opioid crisis in Illinois, such as SB 6, HB 109 which restores critical mental health and treatment funding and HB 3161 which requires the IL Dept of Human Services to provide information about heroin and opioid addiction.

Who is Natalie Manley?

She’s running for: Illinois House of Representatives, 98th District

Her political/civic background: 98th District State Rep since 2012.

Her occupation: Certified Public Accountant/State Representative

Her education:

  • Joliet Jr. College
  • Bachelors in Business Administration– St. Francis
  • Masters in Organizational Leadership – Public Administration Lewis University
  • Certified Public Accountant

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

Manley: The key difference between me and my opponent is that I have a proven record of enacting legislation that has made life better for the people in Illinois. Because of my work in Springfield and here in the 98th district, my constituents know that I am someone who will support their best interests. As an independent thinker, and someone willing to work across the aisle, I continue to put the wellbeing of my constituents first.

During my time in public service, I have made significant changes that have advanced the position of women, protected the most vulnerable in our communities, and made sure that funding for critical programs and services were available for those that rely on them. For the past six years I have worked with my constituents to establish open forums and legislative advisory committees. My fellow residents know that their opinions are valued, respected, and heard. Their insights, feedback, and hard work have directly influenced policy in our state.

My constituents have commended me for bringing my unique approach to relationship-based leadership to our district in a way that is not easily replicated

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?

Manley: Data shows that people have been leaving Illinois and the legislature must act to reverse this trend. Residents require a safe and financially sound environment. Many are leaving in search of affordable education, job opportunities, and a stable environment for their families. We must enact legislation that attracts new opportunities for workers, while supporting innovation and entrepreneurship. Ending the budget crisis was a crucial first step at addressing the problem of outward migration but much more work needs to follow. Continuing to increase funding for schools, cutting taxes on middle-class and struggling families, and establishing a taxing system that works for Illinois and its citizens are all ways to make Illinois a more desirable place to live.

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

Manley: We must pay down the liability by reaching across the aisle to address this issue head on. Whether that includes restructuring the debt, and/or allocating more resources to pay what we owe – we must ensure that politics does not get in the way of the state meeting its obligations. Any idea brought forward must be carefully considered insure that it falls within the boundaries set by the constitution and is fair to both the taxpayers and the workers that have devoted their lives to this 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?

Manley: First, the costs for higher education have increased, while state funding for our public institutions has decreased. Secondly, Governor Bruce Rauner blocked billions in higher education funding throughout his term, and blocked critical financial aid that our students depended on. As a result, our universities had to raise tuition, and many students were forced to look elsewhere. Colleges outside of our state are also incentivizing illinois students to attend their schools. These institutions are offering dual credits, additional financial benefits, and opportunities that are often more beneficial than the relief offered here in Illinois.

This past year, I sponsored SB 3190 that requires community colleges to work with high schools to provide opportunities for students to receive dual credit. We must increase school funding and continue to implement beneficial initiatives that encourage our students to attend school here at home.


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

Manley: There are a number of common sense gun reform bills that I voted for and should be passed. These proposals include a ban on the sale or purchase on military style rifles (HB 4107), strengthening background checks by gun dealer licensing (SB 337), and banning the sale of bump stocks (HB 1467) in our state.

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?

I would support HB 5046, a bill that require employers to notify hourly workers 72 in advance, if any scheduling changes will be made. This bill is also designed to ensure compensation for workers who face shortened or cancelled shifts. Fair scheduling is important, especially those who are lower and middle income workers, single parents, and students putting themselves through college.

Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.

Manley: No, not at this time. I understand all the arguments for and against legalization and can see value on both sides of the debate. However, I have difficulty supporting a law that comes into direct conflict with federal drug enforcement regulations. That being said, I am always willing to discuss the merits of any bill. As we move forward, I will continue to work with local law enforcement, educators, medical experts, professionals in the field of addiction and substance abuse, and my constituents to create policies that won’t conflict with federal law.

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?

Manley: Rauner’s budget crisis cut funding for mental health treatment, addiction treatment, community organizations focused on these problems, and even law enforcement resources. The budget bill we just passed restored a significant portion of this funding, but we need to do more. This is a matter of public health. Legislators must ensure that the public is educated. I sponsored a bill that directly addresses this need (Manley- HB 3161). We need to work with local police, community members, and medical professionals to find actual workable solutions to this crisis. We must provide funding for programs that provide treatment for addiction and mental health services.

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?

Manley: I agree that green energy jobs are important and any legislation promoting their creation should receive careful consideration and review. However, we cannot push green energy jobs by adding to the tax burden of middle class families. We should be putting the burden of pollution cleanup onto the polluters.

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?

Manley: Managed care programs can ensure that patients get high quality care so that patients don’t end up in emergency rooms. However, Governor Bruce Rauner made changes to the Medicaid system that went against the goals of managed care. Instead of improving the lives of patients, the changes he made simply bailed out insurance companies. Governor Rauner gave some of the largest contracts awarded in Illinois’ history to out-of-state organizations. We must provide transparency and oversight in a bipartisan manner. We have to find real solutions that will strengthen the Medicaid system by implementing cost-efficient solutions and creating programs that reduce readmission rates.

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?

Manley: Yes, an audit finding is a legitimate concern. The role of these programs are to reduce recidivism by training and educating individuals so that after they have paid their debt to society they can leave the department of corrections better than they entered it. We must provide adequate oversight to ensure that safety is not compromised, and legitimate rights are protected.

Should the state restore the practice of parole for people sentenced to long terms? Why or why not?

Manley: Topics like property tax reform, education funding, and common sense gun reforms are the issues that my constituents have asked me to focus on. However, I will consider changes to our criminal justice system with advisement from law enforcement and victims’ advocates to ensure our current policies make sense for our state.


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.