Frances Ann Hurley
Running for: Candidate for State Representative 35th District
Political party affiliation: Democrat
Political/civic background: My political background consists of working for Alderman Ginger Rudai and Alderman Matt OShea
I have voluntered for many civic organizations over the years including Y Me Breast Cancer organization, Misercordia, Special Olympics, Chicago Police Memorial Run to Remember, community bcusiness groups, Kiwanis and my parish of St Christina. I also coached girls softball and girls volleyball
Occupation: State Representative, 35th District
Education: I graduated from St Barnabas Grammar School, Mother McAuley High School and St Xavier University with a BA in Criminal Justice
Campaign website: www.franhurley.com
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. Frances Ann Hurley submitted the following responses:
1. The COVID-19 pandemic has hammered the finances of Illinois. The state is staring at a $6.2 billion budget shortfall in this fiscal year. What should be done? Please be specific.
This is a year like no other. We are experiencing a pandemic, civil unrest, the effects of climate change, job loss, business closures, and sadly, the loss of many many lives, including over 8000 in Illinois alone from COVID. The 6.2 billion dollar budget shortfall is a tremendous burden on the state. Hopefully the federal government will get its act together and provide more relief to states. Without new direct funding from Washington, we will be forced to go further in debt to fund state government. Programs that service our seniors, domestic violence organizations, substance abuse programs and public safety to name a few need to stay funded but we need to look through our budget proposals and see where we can cut. The 101st General Assembly created a budget oversight commission with powers to make sure we are not spending more than we have, but that’s just a start. We need to run our state like our homes. Providing for those who need it but saying no to needless spending.
2. What grade — “A” to “F” — would you give Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic? Please explain. What, if anything, should he have done differently?
I believe Governor Pritzker has done a top notch job handling the coronavirus crisis. He has aggressively taken on the virus with a science-based approach. I have no doubt that his policies have saved lives in Illinois. The governor and his staff deserve praise for leveling with the people of Illinois and keeping us informed, particularly with their daily briefings during the first few months of the crisis. If I had any criticism, I would directed it at the way the administration has communicated with legislators and municipal leaders. His regular telephone briefing for elected officials have stopped, which has created some communication gaps with mayors and other local officials. That has led to questions and some confusion about changes to various COVID-related procedures and proposals.
3. In the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, legislatures in some states have taken up the issue of police reform. Should Illinois do the same? If so, what would that look like?
We should look at ways to protect and educate our police. Increase Mental health education and accessibility to mental health services for our first responders. We need to look at police reform through a lens that looks how we can help ALL those involved: the police and the community.
4. Should the Legislature pass a law requiring all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras? Why or why not?
Body cameras are a useful tool in seeing a situation in its entirety, not just when someone starts filming. Unfortunately, not all police officers have been equipped. The legislature should set hard deadlines for police departments to fully deploy cameras and provide grant dollars for municipalities to comply.
5. Federal prosecutors have revealed a comprehensive scheme of bribery, ghost jobs and favoritism in subcontracting by ComEd to influence the actions of House Speaker Michael Madigan. Who’s to blame? What ethics reforms should follow? Should Madigan resign?
ComEd has taken responsibility for its inappropriate actions and is paying a large fine and changing the way it interacts with government officials. The Deferred Prosecution Agreement puts new transparency measures in place. For example, if I make a call to a Com Ed regarding a live power line down or a neighborhood outage, that interaction is reported. All conversations with elected officials are documented and I am fine with that, in fact, we should create statutory provisions to keep those requirements in place after the DPA expires. Michael Madigan has not been indicted and has not been directly implicated for engaging in illegal activity. Should that occur, he should step down as speaker.
6. 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.
My civic works includes being on the boards of four organizations:
Illinois Special Olympics Garden Center Services WINGS and Guildhaus
Currently I am the Chief Sponsor of HB 3897, legislation that was suggested to me by a constituent who has a special needs child that was turning 22 years old. She explained on the eve of his 22nd birthday he “ages out” of his public school program and is effectively kicked out of school in the middle of the semester. Most other state’s allow students who are “aging out” to finish the term and graduate with their class at the end of the school year. My legislation would put to an end this abrupt (and arguably cruel) disruption to special ed students’ and their families’ lives and let the student finish the school year.
I was the Chief Sponsor of the Special Olympic Lottery bill which continues to raise money for our athletes. I have advocated for victims of domestic violence. I was the Chief Sponsor of a bill that mandates one hour of domestic violence awareness education in a beautician’s continuing education.
Closer to home The YME Womens Softball tournament raises money for Breast Cancer Research. I am on the board for this wonderful tournament where over 1200 women over the age of 25 play softball and support the cause. It is in its 26th year and last year alone donated over $80,000 to Dr. Kay McCleod research projects at UIC.
As a state rep I have also hosted hiring fairs, partnered with the local business associations and helped our seniors learn about their electronic devices on Senior Tech Tuesday (one of my favorites.) I also Host Mental Health Mondays, Coffee and Conversations, Extended office hours, Remote Service Hours, a senior advisory committee, Yoga in the Park, Self-defense seminars, Coffee with the Commander (the local Chicago PD district chief,) Town Halls with my senator and local alderman and several other community events. These events encourage open communication with the 35th District.
7. 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.
HB 3897 (mentioned above in question 6) is important to the whole state but also to my district. We have wonderful programs for our Special Needs population but school shouldn’t stop on a random Tuesday just because you turned 22.
I was the Chief Sponsor of the legislation that created the First Responder Suicide Prevention Task Force and am the co-chair of the panel. Again, this is important to everyone across the state but my district has one of the highest concentration of police officers and fire fighters in the state and the suicide rates are staggering for this population.
Also, I will continue to advocate for programs that help our seniors stay in their homes including Meals on Wheels prescription drug prices and property tax exemptions.
8. What are your other top legislative priorities?
Women’s Health issues, properly funding schools, and public safety are a few additional legislative priorities.
9. What is your position on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax? Please explain.
I believe many aspects of our taxing system are unfair to working class families. The “Fair Tax” proposal will ensure state income taxes would be reduced or stay the same for 97 percent of the state’s population. I voted to put the SJRAC 1 on the ballot so the voters can decide.
10. Illinois continues to struggle financially, with a backlog of unpaid bills. 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?
The COVID-19 crisis has made an already tough financial situation all the more difficult. Illinois, like every other state, can’t survive this crisis without more assistance from the federal government. When the General Assembly passed the FY21 budget this May, we created an oversight task force to monitor the state’s spending in real time. This was done with the expectation that solid revenue estimates would be difficult to make because of the economic damage caused by the recession. The oversight commission can (and should) serve as a model for how we can prioritize spending and identify cuts if necessary.
11. Should Illinois consider taxing the retirement incomes of its very wealthiest residents, as most states do? And your argument is?
No, I do not support a tax on retirement income.
12. What can Illinois do to improve its elementary and high schools?
Thanks to bipartisan education funding reform, the state is on a path to improved K-12 education. For too long, Illinois has had an education system in which the quality of local schools was largely dependent on the amount of local property tax wealth. The new funding formula will ensure school spending is driven by need. The legislature will have to continue to pump $350 million in additional funding into the formal annually to complete this task. I am committed to doing that.
13. Mass shootings and gun violence plague America. What can or should the Legislature do, if anything, to address this problem in Illinois?
I support legal gun ownerships, but we have to find a way to keep guns and assault weapons out of the hands of felons and individuals with mental health issues. The key is to ensure the laws that are currently on the books are enforced. Individuals who are convicted of gun crimes should face jail time, not probation. And we must work closely with federal law enforcement officials to combat straw purchasing and the flow of guns from Indiana and Wisconsin.
14. Do you favor or oppose term limits for any elected official in Illinois? Please explain.
I support enforcing term limits on the length of time legislators can serve in leadership or chairmanship positions. Most people would be surprised by steady turn over of members of the General Assembly. I have a photo of taken of the House chamber hanging on the wall in my district office that was taken in 2013 during my freshman year. On that photo, I have placed little arrows on the faces of every member who has left the GA. There are so many arrows now you can barely see the faces of the Representatives who are still in office. When visitors to my office ask what the arrows mean I explain it proves that our constituents decide our term limits.
15. 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?
I have supported a Joint resolution for independent maps. It’s too late for any of those resolutions to pass, but we can create more inclusive and less political maps if when drawing districts we respect natural and government boundaries, like major intersections, city neighborhoods, suburban municipal lines, and downstate counties. Of course, any map will have to survive a federal court challenge to ensure it complies with the Voting Rights Act, which sometimes make it difficult to strictly adhere to such boundaries.
16. 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?
There is much more to be done regarding lobbying reform. The “consultant loophole” that allows individuals to receive fees from special interest groups for consulting on legislation without registering as a lobbyist needs to be closed. One of my current legislative proposals is to prohibit a sitting legislatures spouse to be appointed to a salaried state board.
17. 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?
It is concerning that there are apps that seems to analyze our spoken word. Also there are more data breaches, Identity theft and general concerns for our data sharing. Tech companies should be required to notify consumers that their personal data is being used prior to offering an app for download.
18. 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?
Higher Education in Illinois is still suffering from the underfunding of the Rauner years, when we had a governor who didn’t really believe in public universities and intentionally starved them of funding. This accelerated an already established trend of Illinois students increasingly leaving the state for college. The best way to reverse this trend is to fully fund MAP grants and to increase funding of the AIM High program, which is specifically targeted at middle class students who don’t qualify for low income benefits like MAP. Increasing funding to these programs ensure the dollars follow the student, which is more efficient than giving the money directly to the schools and it incentivizes the universities to recruit Illinois students.
19. What is your top legislative priority with respect to the environment?
We need energy policy reform that expands the use of renewable generation. Both the Clean Energy Jobs Act and the Path to 100 bill have smart proposals that will help us achieve this goal. We also need to focus more attention on carbon pollution created by the transportation sector, which for the first time in decades now produces more carbon in Illinois than energy generation. We need to incentivize the purchase of electric and hybrid cars and require electric companies to provide more charging stations.
20. 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.
Teachers through history have helped shape our nation. A teacher has the opportunity to shape the minds of the future, inspire critical thinkers and problem solvers. As we write our current history our educational system will be discussed and Ihope they include how our teachers continually adjust to the ever-changing needs of the students.
21. What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why?
I don’t watch much TV. and my birthday candles are having a bit of trouble fitting on the cake. With that said.
I have watched Gracie and Frankie on Netflix and although a bit far-fetched at times, they talk about the struggles of aging. Including housing, prescription costs, family, job loss and age discrimination to name a few. As the boomers get older we must be aware of the growing needs of this population and our ability to help them continue to have a decent and affordable quality of life.