Illinois House 53rd District Republican nominee: Eddie Corrigan
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Republican Eddie Corrigan is the Sun-Times’ endorsed candidate in the 53rd Illinois House district race. He faces Democrat Mark Walker in the general election.
On Oct. 1, Corrigan appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. Watch the video above to find out why he’s running for the Illinois House of Representatives in the 53rd District in the 2018 general election.
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board also 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. Corrigan submitted the following responses:
Please explain what cause or causes you will make priorities.
Corrigan: Going door-to-door throughout my district, the number one issue I hear every day is burdensome property taxes. Illinois residents are being forced from their homes due to ever-increasing property taxes. It is no surprise that Illinois is the number one state for people fleeing to neighboring states for lower taxes and better jobs. I will work each day to provide real property tax relief by supporting a property tax freeze and cutting costly mandates that the General Assembly continues to place on school districts and local units of government.
Once again, Illinois was rated last in terms of business friendliness. Thumbtack recently published a survey where small businesses and entrepreneurs gave Illinois a failing grade due to the state’s lack of economic policies favorable to job creators. Illinois needs to pass legislation that helps our job creators. The General Assembly must work together to pass pro-growth, pro-job, and pro-small business bills. These bills could include targeted tax credits for small businesses under 100 employees, job creation incentives, and benefits for manufacturing companies, all of which are the building blocks of a strong economy.
Please list three concerns that are highly specific to your district, such as a project that should be undertaken or a state policy related to some local issue that must be changed.
Corrigan: Residents in Northwest Cook County have one of the highest property tax bills in the nation. This issue hits close to home as burdensome property taxes are forcing suburban residents to flee Illinois at an unprecedented rate. I believe the General Assembly must address this issue so that we keep our neighbors in their homes. Another issue that is of utmost importance to my district is the horse racing industry and sustaining it as a vital part of our community. As state representative, I look forward to working on this issue so that Arlington International Racecourse can remain a strong and vibrant part of the 53rd district’s economy.
Who is Eddie Corrigan?
He’s running for: 53rd House District
His political/civic background: Cancer research and awareness advocate
His occupation: Outreach Coordinator – U.S. House of Representatives Illinois’ 6th District
His education: Bachelors Degree in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame
Campaign website: citizensforcorrigan.com
What are the most important differences between you and your opponent?
Corrigan: I support a pro-growth agenda rather than the status quo tax and spend agenda that has led to billions in unfunded pension liability, the second highest property taxes in the nation, and thousands of residents fleeing the state each year. I will oppose a progressive income tax which will raise taxes on thousands of Illinoisans whereas my opponent believes that higher taxes are the only solution to address Illinois’ budgetary problem.
Illinois is now the sixth-most populated state, down from No. 5, after 33,703 people moved out between July 2016 and July 2017. What must the Legislature do to make Illinois a more desirable place to live?
Corrigan: Indiana, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Missouri are all the beneficiaries of Illinois’ tax and spend policies. Droves of residents have fled our borders for states they believe are better to raise families and grow small businesses. Illinois must become more competitive if it wants to keep its residents. Illinois has one of the highest property tax rates in the country, one the highest workers compensation costs, and extreme and burdensome regulations and red tape.
We must create an environment where small business can flourish and where Illinois families can afford their homes. The General Assembly needs to cut onerous job-killing regulations and implement a property tax freeze if we want to keep up with our neighbors in the Midwest. Finally, we cannot afford to implement a graduated income tax which will only exacerbate the number of families and businesses fleeing Illinois. As State Representative, I will focus my attention on legislation that will keep our families and small businesses in Illinois.
In 2017, our state’s unfunded pension liability ballooned to more than $130 billion. What’s to be done about that?
Corrigan: Illinois has the highest unfunded pension liability in the United States. Lawmakers in Illinois must answer the call and provide a solution which reduces pension costs as well as protecting the hard-earned benefits already promised to retirees. I believe the consideration model could fit the bill. This gives employees choices, but does not touch benefits previously earned. The next steps in the consideration model would be reducing benefits levels for new employees and entering them into a defined contribution, hybrid 401(k) system. This allows employees to keep their current benefits and would remove future raises in their pensions, thus helping to reduce long-term liabilities.
From 2000 to 2016, the number of Illinois residents who enrolled as college freshmen outside the state increased by 73% (20,507 to 35,445). Why are so many more Illinois residents going to college elsewhere? What should be done to encourage more of them to go to school here?
Corrigan: Illinois colleges and universities have some of the highest tuition rates in the country. This has been a result of ballooning administrative and pension costs which force schools to set tuition rates that are simply unaffordable for many Illinois students. Our universities need to cut administrative costs, consolidate campus offices, and reign in pension costs so that the tuition costs are more-friendly to students and their families. I think a broader conversation needs to be had about Illinois students leaving the state for school and then never coming back home. Like so many others fleeing Illinois, students realize that Illinois’ unfunded pension system and high taxes is not going to be cured overnight. They do not believe they can afford to live in Illinois as they start their careers so we must enact pro-growth policies that will attract them back to Illinois after college.
What laws, if any, should the Legislature pass to address the problem of gun violence?
Corrigan: I am a proud Second Amendment supporter, but I believe we can enact common sense gun legislation to better protect our communities. We need to start immediately with universal background checks and legislation aimed at improving mental health care. I am open to considering any legislation that I believe will protect children and families while maintaining the right to bear arms.
On-demand scheduling software now helps large retail companies determine how many staff members they will need on a day-to-day or even hour-to-hour basis. The downside is that employees may not receive their work schedules until the last minute. Oregon and a number of cities have responded by adopting “fair scheduling” laws. Would it be appropriate for the Illinois Legislature to pass a “fair scheduling” law? Please explain. What would such a law look like?
Corrigan: As I previously stated, Illinois is already the least-friendly state for small businesses in the nation. It is my belief that the government should not intrude on the rights of small businesses and their employees. I believe that fair scheduling legislation would be yet another costly regulation that would hurt job creators and the employees it is intended to protect. State government should not be in the business of telling employers how to run their businesses, including how and when they schedule their employees to work, especially in a situation that the small business cannot control or avoid. If a small business is looking to maintain its best employees, it is incumbent upon small businesses to treat their employees with respect by implementing quality scheduling practices and working conditions. Businesses need to have the flexibility to run their companies as they see fit – not as the government sees fit.
Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.
Corrigan: This is a hot-button issue and I believe both sides have done an excellent job arguing in favor of their cause. To make a true determination though, I would have to see specific legislation that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. In my opinion, it would be very reckless for the state to legalize marijuana for the sole purpose of generating new revenue. This is a topic that must be vetted inside and out before further action is taken.
Opioid overdoses and fatalities continue to rise in number. In Illinois in 2017, there were 13,395 opioid overdoses, including 2,110 deaths. What should the Legislature do, if anything, about this?
Corrigan: Recently, Governor Rauner signed legislation into law expanding the use of medical marijuana to be used as a substitute to addictive prescription opioids. I believe this legislation is a good start in addressing Illinois’ opioid addiction that has hit the suburbs extremely hard. I support expanding the use of medical marijuana to further keep dangerous opioids out of the hands of patients and their families. Further, I believe the General Assembly can continue supporting substance abuse facilities that do the hard work in our local communities to help those addicted to these painkillers.
The Future Energy Jobs Act, passed in 2016, is generating job growth in renewable energy and improving energy efficiency. Do you agree or disagree with the objectives and substance of the Act? What more — or less — should be done?
Corrigan: Innovative and bipartisan job growth legislation is usually non-existent in Illinois. That is why I believe the Future Energy Jobs Act is beneficial as it prioritizes job growth in Illinois while also aiming to protect rate-payers across the state. I think the General Assembly should continue to support pro-growth economic reforms in all facets of the economy, including renewable energy and improving energy efficiency.
What would you do to ensure the long-term viability of the state’s Medicaid program? What is your view on managed care for Medicaid beneficiaries?
Corrigan: I believe we need to look at solutions to cut the costs of Medicaid as it is one of the largest portions of the Illinois budget; however, Illinois has made a commitment to our most vulnerable, including the disabled, the elderly, and our youth and we must continue to provide services to those residents. For years, Medicaid spending has grown exponentially beyond the level of inflation and that is simply unsustainable.
I believe the increased use of managed care for Medicaid beneficiaries is a good solution to address the high-cost of the system. Managed care will cut costs at the administrative level, while ensuring that healthcare providers are offering quality and preventive care to their patients. In addition, managed care will help keep patients from going directly to the emergency room, which will save money as emergency room care is one of the leading factors to the high cost of Medicaid.
Underfunding at the Department of Corrections has led to troubling findings by the auditor general that many inmates don’t receive services or opportunities for work while incarcerated. Is this a legitimate concern? What should the Legislature do?
Corrigan: Many Republicans, including myself, support criminal justice reform measures. I believe we should look at lower penalties for non-violent, low-level drug offenses as it is expensive to jail these offenders. Many of these people need substance abuse treatment, not jail time. With that being said, I do believe that increase opportunities for incarcerated individuals would be beneficial to ensure that these individuals are prepared to go back into society when they are released. I think the legislature could look at criminal justice reform for those non-violent, low-level drug offenses in an effort to save money that could be used for other programs, including work programs, within the criminal justice system.
Should the state restore the practice of parole for people sentenced to long terms? Why or why not?
Corrigan: As I said, I am open to criminal justice reform that makes sense for our state. I would be open to considering the option of parole for long-term sentences in which the offender committed a low-level, non-violent offense as a juvenile prior to their brain being fully developed.
Ahead of the historic 2018 elections, the Sun-Times is teaming up weekly with the Better Government Association, in print and online, to fact-check the truthfulness of the candidates. You can find all of the PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported together here.