Running for: State Representative 52nd District
Political party affiliation: Republican
Political/civic background: Village President Barrington Hills 2013 to present Chairman Barrington area council of governments 2015 to 2016 Barrington Lions club member and Executive Council member
Occupation: Owner of investment management business specializing in Pension management
Education: Bachelor of Arts degree, Business Administration Illinois Wesleyan University 1987 Securities licenses 1987
Campaign website: http://www.MartyforIllinois.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. Martin McLaughlin 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.
First of all, the state has gone so many years without a balanced budget it is ridiculous. The state’s decision to pass a budget that is $6 billion out of balance is a national embarrassment. This budget was drafted and then approved during the 3rd month of COVID. The State of Illinois needs immediately to enact a program which reduces state spending across-the-board by 10 to 15% . I don’t understand how the state believes that their tax receipts will be anywhere near their projections, while at the same time, they are not allowing businesses across the state to operate at full capacity.
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?
D+ He should have followed the same rules and regulations that he imposed upon the people of Illinois through his decrees. His changing criteria for COVID evaluation has been a problem all along. He has moved the goalposts several times for what constitutes and justifies his emergency decrees. Initially, hospitalizations, ICU beds, ventilators and mortality rates were significant criteria, now it has turned into infection positivity statistics only. When he lumped all of the 52nd District in with Cook County for his regions, he essentially shut down many businesses that could have operated safely during the pandemic. The Governor should have trusted families, businesses, churches and local communities to make the best decisions for themselves. With the country’s investors and bond rating agencies forcing Illinois debt issuance to be 4% higher than the top credit rated issuance in the market, it goes a long way to saying that investors considered Illinois debt already at “junk status” whether or not the governors office recognizes it as such.
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?
I am not an advocate of defunding police departments. I have consistently been an advocate for evaluating police departments so that they are the most efficient, effective, reliable and equitable entities possible. The oversight of police departments by police commissions and political leaders should constantly review police policies and procedures to make sure that our police departments are performing at a high-level which will continue to gain the public’s confidence and trust. Public Safety is one of the primary responsibilities of commissions and elected leaders..
4. Should the Legislature pass a law requiring all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras? Why or why not?
In a state that is $6 billion out of balance, where would the funding come from to require local police departments, which are independent organizations, to purchase body cameras? This would be another unfunded mandate by Springfield where they are constantly passing legislation, without the understanding that the burden of paying for such legislation falls upon the local taxpayers and local communities.
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?
The top executives at ComEd who initiated and authorized these payments in exchange for what appears for preferential treatment by the state’s utility boards should be held accountable. Any pay increases or bonuses that these executives received should be returned to Illinois taxpayers as part of their punishment. The best way to restore ethics in Illinois is to institute term limits so that people cannot create environments where the influence of a handful of legislative leaders exceeds that of the members of the General Assembly. As for Speaker Madigan, 37 years is far too long to allow that much power to be put in the hands of one person.
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.
In 2013 as Barrington Hills Village President, I initiated a plan to run our local government like a business. We decided to make all departments, employees, contractors and officers accountable to the taxpayers. This resulted in a significant reduction in spending in the Village, continuing into the past two years. I have overseen and managed seven budgets since I was elected, with six budgets being lower, resulting in a 24% reduction in overall spending. At the same time, we were able to increase our cash reserves and significantly increase our roads and drainage program.
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.
- Property Taxes
- Ethics /Corruption reforms
- Post COVID business protections and promotion
8. What are your other top legislative priorities?
Support spending reforms across the board
9. What is your position on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax? Please explain.
The Governor’s tax increase plan will substantially hurt small businesses and drive even more residents out of the State of Illinois. You cannot tax a state into prosperity. Winston Churchill said it best “that it is like a man standing in a bucket trying to pull himself up by the handle.” With the government shut down of many businesses in Illinois, state tax receipts will be hurt significantly. The state legislature has no plan for this. Many states like Indiana have decided to reduce state spending in anticipation of lower revenue. Illinois has not even given this any consideration. The promoters of the graduated tax promise lower taxes for 97% of Illinois taxpayers, but the tax rate decrease would only be .05%. And, the actual referendum question does not include any specific restrictions on the tax rate or how any group will be taxed. The legislature can decide at any time to increase taxes on any group of taxpayers without any limitations, and there is no provision that the new revenue derived must go to pay for essential services only. Illinois taxpayers already pay the highest effective tax rate in the country, when factoring in income taxes property taxes and sales taxes. Passing this amendment would basically be allowing the legislature to write a blank check without being accountable for reining in out-of-control spending.
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?
Illinois should begin an austerity program. It is beyond time that we realize that our state’s spending trajectory is not sustainable for the average man and woman that lives in Illinois.
11. Should Illinois consider taxing the retirement incomes of its very wealthiest residents, as most states do? And your argument is?
That would be a short term solution to some who want to continue to drive a wedge between Illinois families based upon economic status. A pension tax does not handle the structural problem of pensions. Most of the state’s pensions have too high of a return assumption, too low of a required contribution. Sweeteners, COLA’s and other benefits should be declared void, as they were never attainable when issued by politicians for political reasons.
12. What can Illinois do to improve its elementary and high schools?
Choice! Give the parents and the students an opportunity to choose what schools are best for them. Let the tax dollars go with the student. In that way, it would foster competition between schools and require public education facilities to begin to perform better.
13. Mass shootings and gun violence plague America. What can or should the Legislature do, if anything, to address this problem in Illinois?
We need to support our officers to enforce the laws that exist. In neighborhoods where there are high numbers of shootings, in many instances, our police have been pulled back to the perimeter and only responding after shootings occur. We need more community policing to stop criminals from roaming free without repercussions. Our court systems need to put violent offenders in jail. Our legislators and political leaders need to allow the police departments and law enforcement officers to use any and all tactics available to them to stop repeat violent offenders from getting back on the streets.
14. Do you favor or oppose term limits for any elected official in Illinois? Please explain.
Favor. These part-time positions in the state legislature were never intended to be full-time professions. In my local office as village President, I am an unpaid volunteer, and I am stepping down as village president after two terms which I believe is healthy and allows for new ideas and new blood to provide leadership. Term limits also would make corruption much more difficult.
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?
It’s my understanding that a referendum to look at redistricting was shot down at the Illinois State Supreme Court level. I believe that when hundreds of thousands of residents take the time to file a proper referendum petition, the question should be brought forward to the voters and that a state court should not be able to stop the will of the people.
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?
Hopefully more measures like this will come forward without prompting by the US Attorney’s Offices, but rather from the elected officials themselves in Illinois. I am in favor of further ethics and anticorruption laws for all state office holders.
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?
I am not an advocate of sharing data services without an individuals consent. Any laws that would come forward and stop this practice I would be in favor of. Just as Illinois has some of the most stringent laws against the use of biometrics, the state should also strengthen protections against intrusive data collection.
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?
Simply put, our Illinois universities are cost prohibitive, even when compared with out-of-state tuition from many surrounding state universities. At Illinois universities, almost 50% of the $4 billion budgets are being spent on retirement costs. And several of our universities have more administrators and teachers making salaries over $100,000 a year than many states combined. We have priced ourselves out of the market for financially minded students and parents.
19. What is your top legislative priority with respect to the environment?
The water quality of regional aquifers in and around the 52nd District is my top priority. Many of my constituents in the four counties that make up the 52nd District are on well and septic systems. We need to continue to monitor water levels and water quality to assure that individual families and municipalities can continue to utilize this resource well into the future. As Village President, one of my responsibilities has been to represent the village on the Barrington Area Council of Governments (BACOG) which has been a leader in the state in protecting regional water quality. From limiting PAH-containing driveway sealants, reducing the use of roadway salt and establishing programs for proper disposal of prescription drugs, BACOG has safeguarded the aquifers which supply the groundwater for thousands of area homes.
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.
By far, Ronald Reagan is the Illinoisan who I admire the most. I cast my first Presidential vote for him, and coincidentally, we both attended small Illinois liberal arts colleges. He was able to institute historic income tax cuts and reduced unemployment, with bipartisan cooperation. And he did it all with self-effacing humor which is needed these days.
21. What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why?
The Office. My favorite quote: “I’m not superstitious. I am just a little stitous.” My wife and kids, who range from 27-13 years old, and I all can enjoy the humor.