Illinois Democratic candidate for governor: Robert Marshall

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Illinois Democratic gubernatorial candidate Robert Marshall participated in a forum with the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board Jan. 17. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

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On Jan. 17, physician Robert Marshall appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. We asked him why he’s running for the Democratic nomination for Illinois Governor in the March 2018 primary:

My name is Dr. Robert Marshall. I’m a physician. Father of four children. A Vietnam veteran and I’m a private citizen. I used to be on the Board of Trustees in Burr Ridge. But, I fashion myself as a taxpayer candidate. I’m concerned about excessive taxes in this state.

My main priority is opposing a graduated income tax. I believe that it will be an unnecessary increase in taxes on the people of this state. I’m opposed to increase in income taxes on a flat tax and also I’m opposed to any plans that will increase property taxes. Property taxes are far too high in the state. We need to oppose any increases and I have a plan that will help the people with the excessive property taxes. Well, the one thing that I want to do is help property taxes by legalizing marijuana throughout this state. This will bring in a large amount of new taxes. This marijuana tax money should be rebated directly to property owners. This is the best way to help these people with these very high taxes.

The Chicago Sun-Times sent the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Governor a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois. Marshall submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:

TOPIC: Key challenges

QUESTION: What are the two biggest problems facing Illinois and what would you do about them?

ANSWER: The two biggest problems involve the financial status of the State of Illinois and the extreme violence occurring in the City of Chicago.

I would solve the financial and debt and bond and pension problems by dissolving the State of Illinois politically and replacing it with three smaller states. These states would be 1. Chicago, 2. Suburban Cook and collar counties and 3. The rest of the state.

Each state would be a brand new state with its own Constitution, Governor and two Senators. All debts and pensions plans would be divided up and each new state would handle these problems as they see fit. All financial obligations would be re-negotiable.

The extreme violence in Chicago, including 4,000 shootings and 800 murders per year should be addressed by taking the money out of the drug trade. Over half of these shootings are gang related and depriving the gangbangers of their drug trade would result in a marked decrease in the size and activity of these gangs.

Marijuana should be legalized, preferably throughout the entire state to take the profit out of the marijuana trade. Cocaine and heroin should be decriminalized so that the medical community could treat these addicts as patients rather than criminals.

Robert Marshall

Running for: Democratic nomination for Illinois Governor

Political/civic background: Village of Burr Ridge Trustee

Occupation: Physician

Education: Oberlin College, Harvard Medical School

Campaign website:

TOPIC: Red ink and taxes

QUESTION: Even after raising the personal state income tax rate to 4.95 percent, Illinois has $9 billion in unpaid bills. The state also must pay billions of dollars over the next 12 years to service the debt on $6 billion borrowed to cover previous unpaid bills. That’s a problem. What’s your solution? Under what circumstances, if any, would you support a higher income tax?

ANSWER: I would oppose any further increase in income tax, either flat tax or graduated tax. As stated above, the debts and unpaid bills would be divided up among the three new states and each state would solve its financial problems as it sees fit.


TOPIC: Underfunded pensions

QUESTION: Illinois has $130 billion of unfunded pension liability. Do you support re-amortizing this debt? Do you support a constitutional amendment that would reduce the liability? Please explain.

ANSWER: The pensions are not underfunded. They are overpromised. The existing pensions should be re-negotiated and with my plan of dissolving the State of Illinois, this could be done by the three new states.

TOPIC: Gun laws

QUESTION: Do you support a state ban on gun silencers? Should all gun dealers in Illinois be licensed by the state? Should family members be empowered to petition the courts for the temporary confiscation of guns from mentally or emotionally disturbed people who may be a danger to themselves or others?

ANSWER: I do not see any reason for having any further gun laws. The problem of crime should be addressed by taking the profit out of the drug trade. If any new gun laws were proposed, I would consult with gunowner groups first to obtain their opinion.

TOPIC: Medicaid

QUESTION: As governor, how would you ensure the long-term viability of the state’s Medicaid program? Do you support continued Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act? Should the state continue on a path toward managed care for Medicaid beneficiaries? Should everyone be permitted to buy into Medicaid?

ANSWER: I would continue to support the Medicaid program, including the Medicaid expansion. I would support managed care for Medicaid and if people wanted to buy into Medicaid, they should be allowed to do this.


TOPIC: Affordable Care Act

QUESTION: Under the ACA, 650,000 Illinoisans gained health insurance coverage. If the program is abolished or diminished by Congress, what action would you take, if any, to maintain health insurance coverage for these Illinoisans? Where would you find the money?

ANSWER: I would continue to support the ACA. I do believe that we should allow people to buy health insurance across state lines.

TOPIC: College student exodus

QUESTION: Illinois is one of the largest exporters of college students in the country. What would you do to encourage the best and brightest young people in Illinois to attend college here at home? Does Illinois have too many state universities, as some have argued?

ANSWER: With my new plan of dividing Illinois up, I believe that competition would be increased between the various universities and this would help to decrease the overall costs.

TOPIC: University oversight

QUESTION: Failed or fired public university presidents have received big payouts. Do you have any plans to consolidate or otherwise reorganize governance of the state’s university system?

ANSWER: I do not plan to consolidate the university system. I want to break it up into three new systems in the three new states.

TOPIC: Clean air regulations

QUESTION: The Rauner administration has proposed scrapping limits on the rate of air pollution from a fleet of eight coal plants in central and southern Illinois owned by Dynegy Inc. Instead, the state would impose annual caps on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emitted by the fleet. Do you support this softening of emissions standards? If not, are you concerned coal plants could be closed and union workers could lose their jobs? Also, how would you support the adoption of clean energy, such as wind and solar, and energy conservation?

ANSWER: I am not opposed to Governor Rauner’s new proposals. I do not believe we should do anything to close these plants or endanger the jobs of union workers.

TOPIC: School funding

QUESTION: Under the state’s new school-funding model, Illinois will need $6.2 billion more to fully fund K-12 schools. Will you commit to full funding? Where will you get the money?

ANSWER: Before we have any extra money allotted for the schools, we should have pension reform.

TOPIC: Wage equality

QUESTION: What is your position on the vetoed Illinois Wage Equity Act?

ANSWER: I support the Illinois Wage Equality Act.

TOPIC: Roads and bridges

QUESTION: How do you plan to address Illinois’ huge backlog of infrastructure construction and repair needs, including for roads, bridges, waterways and mass transit? Do you support an increased gas tax — and/or other taxes and fees — to finance infrastructure improvements, including public transit?

ANSWER: I oppose increased gas taxes and tolls on the internal highways. I believe we should place tolls on all the entrances to the state on the major highways. We should charge tolls for out of staters coming into the state and eliminate the tolls on the internal highways. The exception would be brand new highways, such as Route 355.

TOPIC: Displaced workers

QUESTION: Jobs in Illinois are being lost to high-tech automation and artificial intelligence. It won’t even be long before cars drive themselves. Meanwhile, many other jobs, notably in the retail sector, are being lost to online alternatives. Do you have a plan to help guide displaced workers into new careers?

ANSWER:I would continue job training as we are doing now.

TOPIC: Manufacturing jobs

QUESTION: Since the recession ended in 2009, neighboring states have added tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs while Illinois has not. What will you do to spur Illinois manufacturing?

ANSWER: The new Governor must take a more business friendly approach. I would be opposed to any new taxes of any kind. I also believe we should decrease property taxes with pension reform. We should also relieve the high property taxes by rebating the marijuana profits directly to property owners. This is being done in Colorado and it is very successful and well liked.

TOPIC: Election funding

QUESTION: Record amounts of money are pouring into top judicial races in Illinois and across the country. Is this a problem? Do you favor the public financing of judicial races?

ANSWER: I favor public financing for all political races. I do not support election of judges below the Appellate level.

TOPIC: Opioid crisis

QUESTION: What role does a governor’s power to commute sentences play in the overall effort to improve the quality of criminal justice in Illinois? Do you believe sentencing may have been overly harsh — or not tough enough — during the earlier years of the so-called “war on drugs.” And we now face a renewed war on drugs — this time opioids. Is the greatly increased use of opioids a criminal crisis or public health crisis?

ANSWER: There is evidence to support the contention that legalizing marijuana results in fewer opiate deaths. We should end the war on drugs and treat addicts as patients rather than criminals. Addicts should receive medications which are controlled by the medical community so that everyone knows exactly what drugs and doses they are receiving.

TOPIC: A model gov

QUESTION: Which past governor of Illinois do you most admire and why? Which governor from any state would you most like to emulate?

ANSWER: More and more every day, Governor Quinn is looking like the best Governor we’ve had for quite some time. He was a very hard working and honest dedicated public servant. There has never been any scandal related to him in all of the years of his public service.

Our profiles on other candidates in this race:

Daniel Biss

Bob Daiber

Tio Hardiman

Chris Kennedy

J.B. Pritzker

Jeanne Ives

Bruce Rauner

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