On Feb. 5, Rep. Daniel J. Burke, the incumbent, appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. We asked him why he’s running for the Democratic nomination in the Illinois House of Representatives in the 1st District:
I’m state representative of the 1st district of Illinois and I’ve been serving in the Illinois General Assembly for 27 years. Immediately, education. Public education. Whether it be the traditional public school or the charter schools, which is a relatively new concept in my community.
I’ve been fortunate to have more charter schools in my district than any other in the state. With respect to some of my priorities and through my many years in the General Assembly, I have promoted the use of AEDs in our society. That’s the automatic external defibrillator. So when you would notice them being placed at the airports, schools, places of exercise, public parks, and so forth…through the last 15 years I’ve been involved with promoting not only the placement of those devices but certainly the training of the individuals who would be able to respond to a crisis. One who would suffer cardiac arrest and as we all know it’s the only device that can save a life in the event of a cardiac arrest.
And again, with respect to public education, I think it’s key as our society … and I’m also going to be engaged with an offer to create a charter school directed to vocational training.
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. Burke 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: Promoting the further expansion of AED use and training. Such as H.B. 5114 requiring High school students to be exposed to CPR and AED. With the goal of achieving certification of every student in our public and charter schools throughout the state.
Support additional funding of Public and Charter Schools.
Daniel J. Burke
Running for: Illinois House of Representatives 1st district
Political/civic background: Democratic State Representative 1991 to present.
Occupation: Full Time Legislator
Education:Visitation Grade School, St. Rita H.S. attended Loyola U. and DePaul U. also received honorary Doctorate of Naprapathic Medicine
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:Conducting Job Fairs to afford both potential employees and employers an opportunity to mutually benefit.
Support additional equal funding of Public and Charter Schools.
Working with Local Law Enforcement and community organizations to promote public safety.
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:I believe that any public employee contributing to a pension plan and not entitled to receiving social security benefits should receive what they were promised when hired. Newly hired employees would certainly have to be considered differently, such as the tier plan or other optional plans.
I don’t believe a Constitutional Amendment would be necessary.
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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:I would support the increase of the minimum wage, with consideration given to the specific job duties.
I cannot at this time recommend a specific minimum amount.
QUESTION: Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.
ANSWER:I have fully endorsed and supported the Medical Marijuana legislation previously passed by our General Assembly, but cannot at this time determine whether recreational use of this substance would be practical for our state. I would however promote the expansion of those ailments that respond to cannabis use.
QUESTION: Casinos. Would you support more casinos in Illinois, including in Chicago. What about racinos? Please explain.
ANSWER:Given that Illinois is the only State in the nation that places artificial caps on the number of gaming positions, I would work to eliminate these restrictions and permit the market to do its job. It’s disappointing that other states are benefiting from the patronage of Illinois residents. The dollars lost to others Casinos could very well be used to benefit our citizens.
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 believe that local authorities should be allowed to make that decision.
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:As I answered in an earlier question on casinos, I would secure the revenues gained by either expansion of gaming or eliminating artificial caps.
TOPIC: Opioid abuse
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:I don’t believe that incarceration is the appropriate answer to curing the ever growing number of people with addiction disorder. I believe education and better job opportunities coupled with professional counseling services would be a better approach.
QUESTION: Do you support a state ban on gun silencers? Please explain.
ANSWER:Yes, I can’t imagine any good reason for them. I can imagine many reasons for not allowing them.
QUESTION: Should all gun dealers in Illinois be licensed by the state? Please explain.
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.
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 support continuing the current expansion of Medicaid in the state which has allowed individuals and their families to afford insurance.
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:Having been the sponsor of College Illinois, it was my goal to keep Illinois students on only in our state but in an affordable high quality institution of higher learning.
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:Having overturned two of this Governor’s Veto actions I’ve had too many issues with his judgement to even begin to list them.
CHECK OUT THE CANDIDATES IN THE SUN-TIMES 2018 ILLINOIS PRIMARY VOTING GUIDE