On Feb. 1, Ryan Edward Byrne appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. We asked him why he’s running for the GOP nomination in the Illinois House of Representatives in the 42nd District:
My name is Ryan Byrne, I’m a graduate of Marist High School in Chicago and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in mechanical engineering. I’ve worked at the board of trade for several years and I’m currently the director of marketing for a trading software company.
Top priorities are lowering taxes and enacting term limits. In lowering taxes I think we need to reduce spending in the state, try to find waste, fraud and abuse so that we can get rid of that without impacting the people that need these programs most. At the same time we need to generate revenue to offset some of the reduced spending that we might have, so at that point the only thing left is term limits and I think that’s important in terms of getting turnover in government so that we have accountability in place.
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. Ryan Edward Byrne submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:
TOPIC: Top priorities
QUESTION: Please explain what your specific cause or causes will be. Please avoid a generic topic or issue in your answer.
ANSWER: My top priority is to faithfully represent the people of the 42nd District by initiating, co-sponsoring, and voting for legislation that benefits them. I will use my experiences and ethics to develop a thoughtful stance on every issue, but I will also seek the input and support of the citizens of the district. A representative should be a conduit through which the citizens have a voice in government. I intend to provide that voice.
Ryan Edward Byrne
Running for: Illinois House of Representatives 42nd district
Political/civic background: N/A
Occupation: Director of Marketing for Cunningham Trading Systems, LLC
Education: BS in Mechanical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis
Campaign website: byrnefor42.com
TOPIC: Top district needs
QUESTION: Please list three district-specific needs that will be your priorities. This could be a project that is needed in your district, or a rule that needs to be changed, or some federal matter that has been ignored.
ANSWER: Opioid abuse has become a troubling issue in the western suburbs. We need to address the causes of this growing problem as well as help treat individuals that have fallen victim to highly addictive drugs.
Property taxes have grown to record levels with a minimal increase in social benefits. We need to encourage local government to cut waste so that residents are not driven out in search of reduced property taxes.
Personal and corporate state income taxes need to be reduced in order to keep residents from fleeing the district and the state. Illinois has seen the largest exodus of any state in the last year as a result of unfavorable taxation.
TOPIC: Pension debt
QUESTION: In 2017, Illinois’ unfunded pension liability ballooned to at least $130 billion. Do you support re-amortizing this debt? Please explain your answer. And what is your position on a constitutional amendment that would reduce the liability of the pension debt?
ANSWER: Yes. Re-amortizing the state’s pension debt is a critical part of fixing the problem. The other necessary step is to move new state employees to a defined contribution retirement plan.
I am opposed to a constitutional amendment that would reduce the liability of the pension debt. It would be unethical to amend the constitution in order to break the contracts that are in place for existing and former state employees.
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TOPIC: Minimum wage
QUESTION: Cook County and Chicago are on their way to paying a $13 hourly minimum wage. Many suburbs in the county, however, have opted out of the wage increase. Should Illinois raise its minimum wage from $8.25 an hour? Please explain. And if you favor an increase in the state minimum wage, what should it be?
ANSWER: No. A higher minimum wage results in increased costs for businesses that are invariably passed on to consumers. Small businesses especially would be adversely impacted by a minimum wage increase, leading to less innovation, fewer low-skill job opportunities, and, as studies and reality have consistently shown, a loss of jobs, particularly low-skill jobs.
QUESTION: Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.
ANSWER: Yes. Legalizing recreational marijuana will lead to increased tax revenue that will help the state get closer to a balanced budget. Additionally, citizens that buy marijuana from licensed dispensaries will no longer interact with dealers that may encourage them to try other, more dangerous, drugs. These dealers will lose a significant source of revenue, which will ultimately decrease the prevalence and strength of the gangs that distribute drugs. Reduced gang activity will directly correlate to reduced violence in areas afflicted by gangs. The combination of reduced access to opioids, reduced crime, and increased tax revenue make legalizing marijuana a good decision for Illinois.
QUESTION: Would you support more casinos in Illinois, including in Chicago? What about racinos? Please explain.
ANSWER: Yes. More casinos and racinos would mean more revenue for Illinois. Neighboring states place casinos on our border that service their own citizens as well as ours, yet we receive no monetary benefit from these establishments. Illinois border towns should have the ability to construct their own competing casinos to bring a share of the gaming revenue to the state and their own municipalities.
TOPIC: Property tax freeze
QUESTION: A property tax freeze in Illinois has been proposed frequently since Gov. Bruce Rauner took office. What’s your position? If you favor a freeze, how many years should it last? Should the freeze exclude property tax increases to service the debt, make pension payments or cover the cost of public safety? Again, please explain.
ANSWER: I would support a 2-3 year property tax freeze to help Illinois home owners while the state gets its finances in order. Local governments need to find and cut waste, and a short-term property tax freeze will be a strong push in that direction.
With that said, debt payments and pension payments need to be met and should be excluded from the property tax freeze. Public safety and other costs should be addressed via referenda at the local level.
TOPIC: School funding
QUESTION: A revised school funding formula was approved this year by the Legislature and the governor, but a bipartisan commission has concluded that billions more dollars are needed to achieve sufficient and equitable funding. Should Illinois spend more on schools, and where would the money come from?
ANSWER: Illinois spends enough on schools, but some school districts continue to spend money on underpopulated schools, excessive administrative costs, and unsustainable pensions.
QUESTION: How can the Legislature best address the problem of opioid abuse and addiction? Please cite specific laws you have supported or would support.
ANSWER: The legalization of recreational marijuana would give users a safe place to purchase marijuana without the temptation of cocaine, heroin, or other drugs that may be offered by their dealers. A portion of the increased tax revenue from legalized recreational marijuana can be used to fund drug prevention programs and addiction treatment centers.
QUESTION: Do you support a state ban on gun silencers? Please explain.
ANSWER: No. Gun silencers, properly called suppressors, do not make guns silent. Suppressors decrease the sound to a level that will not damage the ear drum, but they do not eliminate the sound of gunfire; nor do they lower it to a level that it is unrecognizable or undetectable.
QUESTION: Should all gun dealers in Illinois be licensed by the state? Please explain.
ANSWER: No. Gun dealers across the country are required to obtain Federal Firearms License (FFL) in order to do business. Creating a state license would be redundant and a wasteful use of taxpayer money.
QUESTION: Should family members be empowered to petition courts for the temporary removal of guns from emotionally or mentally disturbed people who may be a danger to themselves or others? Please explain.
ANSWER: Yes. Family members are often the first to notice changes in a person’s mental health and should have this ability when loved ones pose a credible threat.
QUESTION: What would you do to 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 ensure the long-term viability by making sure that only those qualified are enrolled, and by instituting programs to eliminate fraud, waste, and abuse.
I do not support the Affordable Care Act, so I cannot support continued Medicaid expansion under it.
Everyone should not be permitted to buy into Medicaid because that could lead to a single-payer system that I oppose.
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: I would reduce administrative expenses and focus on operations. Skyrocketing tuition causes too many Illinoisans to look elsewhere for competitive higher education. Illinois does not have too many state universities.
TOPIC: Gov. Rauner
QUESTION: Please list three of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s principles, or decisions he has made, with which you agree. Also please list three of the governor’s principles, or decisions he has made, with which you disagree.
ANSWER: No response