Alicia E Martinez
Running for: State Rep, 1st Dist
Political/civic background: democrat
Occupation: Bracken Box Inc
Campaign website: COUNTONALICIA.COM
Facebook page: COUNTONALICIA
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent candidates 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. Alicia E Martinez submitted the following responses:
Please tell us about your civic work in the last two years, whether it’s legislation you have sponsored or work you have done in other ways to improve your community.
For the past five years I’ve had the honor to serve Chicago’s residents as a public servant. During this time, I learned firsthand the needs of residents and was able to help provide free sidewalk repair, tree trimming, street light bulb replacement to residents. Having the opportunity to ensure that all residents, especially seniors, have the city services they needed was the most fulfilling time for me.
Please list three concerns that are specific to your district, such as a project that should be undertaken or a state policy related to an important local issue that should be revised.
The three concerns that residents have expressed to me during my canvassing are the additional hardship that the new taxes recently passed by the legislature are inflicting on their finances, ethics reform and ensuring that those committing crimes with deadly weapons are not released on bond.
I do not believe that residents of the First District, or any resident for this matter, should have to suffer financial hardships to pay the 20 new taxes approved by elected officials this year. Hard working families shouldn’t have to cut back on family outing because their gas tax doubled or cut back on groceries because they must pay an additional $50 for their vehicle registration this year. Residents should not have to continue to bankroll elected official’s spending habits by paying higher and new taxes. This year elected officials will take $4.6 billion from our pockets and rather than paying some of the ~$6 billion in overdue bills, they approved ~$1.4 billion for things like pickleball courts, snowmobile paths, marinas, a racetrack and to renovate privately owned theaters. When is enough, enough?
What are your other top legislative priorities?
Other legislative priorities that are important to me are ensuring that women have a safe, harassment-free workplace (something that the current representative has been silent about), tackling the budget deficit and ensuring that our schools are properly funded regardless of their neighborhood’s economic make-up
What is your position on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax? Please explain.
While Gov. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income, tax is a great idea in theory, we are still ways away from it being implemented because it is now up to the voters to decide its fate in this year’s general election. If voters decide to pass this, I will honor their decision and enforce it. With that said, I have the several reservations about the proposed graduated income tax:
There is no mention of how a shortfall of the forecasted revenue would be covered if wealthy individuals decide to move out of state. Would this fall upon middle class families, again?
There is no language that would ensure taxpayers that the forecasted revenue would be going to pay the ~$6 billion in unpaid bills and help Illinois start digging itself out of the financial hole it’s been put in; and
Most importantly, there is no language that ensures residents the forecasted revenue will not be labeled as new revenue by the legislature, thereby adding to the state’s deficit.
Illinois continues to struggle financially, with a backlog of unpaid bills that tops $6 billion. In addition to a progressive state income tax — or in lieu of such a tax — what should the state do to pay its bills, meet its pension obligations and fund core services such as higher education?
I do not buy into the idea of continuing to tax Illinois residents as the state’s only solution to be able to pay its bills, meet its pension obligations and fund core services such as higher education. Illinois residents are protesting being taxed by those in Springfield by migrating to other states. Yet, the current elected officials refuse to see this pattern or to take responsibility for the state’s dire financial situation. I believe that re-evaluating spending and making realistic bipartisan cuts to wasteful spending are couple ways to start to help dig Illinois out of its financial situation.
In order to meet its pension obligations, the state would need to start honoring its commitment and make its share of payments to the pension fund. I would take this a step further and introduce legislature that would protect the pensions funds by not allowing borrowing from this fund, which is the reason why this fund is underfunded.
Lastly, for far too long, those in Springfield have put core services, like education on the back burner. I believe that education needs to be given the same importance given to private development and corporations, it’s time that we invest in future generations.
Should Illinois consider taxing the retirement incomes of its very wealthiest residents, as most states do? And your argument is?
I do not agree that Illinois should consider taxing the retirement incomes of ANY of its residents, doing so could entice retirees to leave the state, just like so many residents are doing so now. Instead, those in Springfield should work within their budget, start paying down the ~$6 billion in overdue bills instead of designated monies to projects that are not essential, and honor its pension obligations. For far too long, those in Springfield have turned to raising and/or introducing new taxes as the only solution to generating new revenue to continue to finance their out of control spending habits.
What can Illinois do to improve its elementary and high schools?
Illinois can improve its elementary and high schools by ensuring that schools are funded based on the needs of students & condition of the school building. For example, the needs of a child in a low-income neighborhood and conditions of their school are vastly different than that of a child from an affluent neighborhood.
Mass shootings and gun violence plague America. What can or should the Legislature do, if anything, to address this problem in Illinois?
While everyone can agree that mass shootings and gun violence are plagues that have engulfed America, the solution to it is a very sensitive and contentious issue for all sides. Illinois needs to address this problem in a respectful manner to victim’s families while ensuring that the rights that the Second Amendment has guaranteed citizens are protected. Finding a real solution would require several things: both sides need to be part of the discussion, patterns for the mass shootings and gun violence are taken into account, and, most importantly developing educational curriculum that focuses on children’s emotional needs/development from moment they enter a kindergarten classroom and until they graduate high school.
Do you favor or oppose term limits for any elected official in Illinois? Please explain.
I would favor term limits for any elected official in Illinois IF their prospective budgets were at a deficit at the end of their term. By doing this, elected officials would be beholden to their constituents and the State’s financial health rather than to big donors or party leaders.
Everybody says gerrymandering is bad, but the party in power in every state — Democrats in Illinois — resist doing anything about it. Or do we have that wrong? What should be done?
We forgot that the reason for redrawing electoral districts is to ensure that districts are equal in population based on census numbers and to ensure that one person’s vote in any election is worth as much as another’s. I think that re-evaluating the current process, limiting redistricting to every 10 years, after the Census numbers are tallied and turning final decision to an independent bipartisan commission are ideas that I strongly believe need to be considered.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago is investigating possible official corruption by state and local officials. This prompted the Legislature to pass an ethics reform measure to amend the Lobbyist Registration Act (SB 1639). It was signed into law in December. What’s your take on this and what more should be done?
I think that the Legislature’s ethics reform to the Lobbyist Registration Act was a good first step to stop corruption by state officials and local officials, nonetheless if the Legislature is serious about ending corruption this reform needs to go one step further. I commit to introducing legislation that would make it illegal for any state and local officials to hold two political posts that are paid positions. For example, being a commissioner and being a mayor of a city. I commit to introducing legislation that will prohibit this as my first act after taking office.
When people use the internet and wireless devices, companies collect data about us. Oftentimes, the information is sold to other companies, which can use it to track our movements or invade our privacy in other ways. When companies share this data, we also face a greater risk of identity theft. What should the Legislature do, if anything?
Protecting Illinois residents from having their information sold needs to be a top priority for elected officials. Introducing legislature where the individual needs to be informed and agree to having their information sold, something more concrete than the current disclosures, and having these companies give 60% of the profits to each individual. The latter would most likely persuade companies from selling collected data.
The number of Illinois public high school graduates who enroll in out-of-state universities continues to climb. What can Illinois do to make its state universities more attractive to Illinois high school students?
In order to make Illinois state universities more attractive to Illinois high school students, we could offer incentives that would go into effect after graduation. For example, offering student loan forgiveness in various % levels if graduates commits to:
- staying in the state after graduation for a specific amount of years;
- goes into public service; and
- getting involved with state agencies that serve the most vulnerable constitutes, such as the foster program, homeless community, mentorships to children in low income communities.
What is your top legislative priority with respect to the environment?
We need to take note of what is currently happening all over the world and realize that we no longer have the luxury of turning a blind eye to this issue. The environment is among my top legislative priorities, we need to find a way to get Illinois closer to lowering greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants by moving to renewable energy and provide training to ensure that current/future generations are able to fulfill jobs in this area.
What historical figure from Illinois, other than Abraham Lincoln (because everybody’s big on Abe), do you most admire or draw inspiration from? Please explain.
Other than Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan is an Illinois native who I admire because he was the last president to tackle the immigration issue by granting an amnesty to ~3 million undocumented immigrants. He not only help those undocumented individuals come out of the shadows but also generated ~$100 million in revenue from application fees for the United States.
What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why?
My favorite TV show of all time is The Amazing Race because it showcases people from diverse backgrounds traveling around the world doing physical and mental challenges. This might the only opportunity that some people might have to being exposed to different cultures.