Illinois House 62nd District Republican nominee: Ken Idstein
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The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the 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.
Ken Idstein, the Republican nominee in the 62nd district, faces Democratic incumbent Sam Yingling in the general election. Idstein submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:
Please explain what cause or causes you will make priorities.
Idstein: I am going to Springfield to save our families. High property taxes are forcing families out of our neighborhoods and destroying our communities. This is the number one issue I hear about at the doors, and the number one reason I got into this race.
I am running to lower and cap property taxes. For years, my opponent has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from Speaker Mike Madigan while claiming he is fighting to lower property taxes. Yet, during all his years in office, all we’ve seen is our property taxes go up and up.
We should judge our elected leaders based on their results, not their political promises. I am not taking a pension because I am not going to Springfield for a job or personal benefits, I am going to serve our community. I am not taking money from Gov. Rauner, J.B. Pritzker, or Mike Madigan because I am going to Springfield to be an independent voice for the families of our community.
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.
Idstein: High property taxes are the biggest issue facing the families in my district. Lake County pays some of the highest property taxes in the nation, and all we ever hear from politicians are empty promises and that they are “working on it.” I am running because families can’t afford another six years of empty promises or political proposals whose only purpose is to make a politician look good on a mail piece.
Our communities face so many additional problems because the politicians continue to hike property taxes. Job opportunities are leaving our district and lake county because they can afford to run their businesses and hire employees in other states. Just last week Takeda Pharmaceuticals picked up and left. The only answer offered by my opponent and the political establishment that bankrolls him is that they are working on it. Families can’t wait another six years for good paying jobs to come to our communities.
Route 120 is an absolute nightmare and fixing 120 is a top priority for my district. Rte 53 extension still needs to be considered.
Who is Ken Idstein?
His legislative district:
His political/civic background:
- Grayslake Chamber of Commerce
- Grayslake Planning and Zoning
- Mortgage Banker
Campaign website: www.electkenidstein.com
What are the most important differences between you and your opponent?
Idstein: I am an independent mortgage professional running to save our homes and revitalize our community. I am not being funded by Gov. Rauner, Pritzker, and certainly not by Madigan. This allows me to be an independent voice for our community and hold both parties accountable.
My opponent has received the most money of any state representative candidate from Mike Madigan. $1.5 million from Madigan. He can’t be an independent check on the political powers when he owes his reelection to them. That is why we’ve seen property taxes continue to climb.
My opponent is part of the political culture that is destroying our home values, that is why things continue to get worse under his approach. People are tired of politicians who say one thing and do another. Families are joining our movement because they want actual results, which lower property taxes and politicians who work for the people. If folks are happy with the status-quo, with higher property taxes and empty promises they should stay with Sam Yingling. That is all we’ve gotten from him over the last six years and all he offers for the next two.
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?
Idstein: For decades the legislature has passed policies that make life hard and harder for families and businesses. As a result, people are fleeing.
Making Illinois a more desirable place to live starts with making it a more affordable place to life. Earlier this year, I visited with a gentleman who was about to retire and was in tears because he wouldn’t be able to afford his property taxes once he retired. He would have to move out of state leaving his home, his grandchildren and his community behind. He didn’t want to leave, the politicians forced him out.
I am running to lower and cap property taxes. That will make Illinois a desirable place to live and go a long way to revitalizing our communities.
In 2017, our state’s unfunded pension liability ballooned to more than $130 billion. What’s to be done about that?
Idstein: We should judge our elected officials based on their actions, not their words. I will refuse to participate in that system because I am not in it for personal gain. As a citizen legislator, I am going to Springfield to serve you then return to my mortgage career. Politicians are quick to offer empty promises, my actions speak for themselves:
I will reject a taxpayer-funded pension,” pledged reformer Ken Idstein.
My opponent has been down there for years and all along property taxes keep going up. Yingling is a life-long politician, he is down there for the pension and the perks, how else can we explain his failure to deliver results for anyone but himself
My wife is a 23 year CPS teacher. None of us want to face a future where there isn’t reform. So we can either continue lying to each other, or we can chart a course that makes those promises real.
All new state employees should be moved into a 401(k) style program and current employees should be offered the option of moving to one.
All benefits already earned should be honored. A promise made should be kept, even if past politicians made terrible promises. But, the General Assembly should look at changing the Constitution to allow for changes to benefits moving forward for work not yet completed and for benefits not yet earned. That may mean capping pensionable salaries, changing the COLA,
Additionally, we should be honest with government employees about the status of their pension plans, and negotiate with them. The union leadership doesn’t agree, but many rank and file members are open to negotiation. My wife would be willing to negotiate many aspects of her pension, like the COLA, in exchange for better security. I just wonder how many other rank and file members would be like minded?
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?
Idstein: Young people are making the same calculation that every one is. After a generation of bad political leadership, and six years of my opponent voting for that same leadership, people are throwing up their hands and leaving. Young folks can find a better education at a lower cost at universities out of state and they find better job opportunities in other states once they graduate. So they leave and often don’t come back.
People want to go to school where job opportunities are; improving our jobs climate, lowering property taxes, and welcoming families and businesses back to Illinois will help encourage students to stay here.
Additionally, Illinois colleges and universities pay the price for the same bad policies and failed leadership that families and businesses do. Speaker Madigan and my opponent maintain workers compensation and procurement policies aimed enriching their allies, rather then helping businesses, universities, or employees. As a result, universities’ costs increase and they in turn increase tuition on students.
Because Speaker Madigan and my opponent fail to pass reforms to Medicaid and pensions, state resources that otherwise could be spent on universities or other priorities goes to funding these unaffordable systems.
What laws, if any, should the Legislature pass to address the problem of gun violence?
Idstein: (no response)
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?
Idstein: Small businesses are being crushed by overly burdensome regulations that make it harder for them to hire employees and deliver quality goods and services for their customers. I do not support another regulation on small businesses that are already being hit with one of the highest tax burdens in the nation. This proposal may be well intentioned, but we do not know the impact it will have on businesses and the last thing we can do is lose more jobs to our neighboring states.
Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.
Idstein: The families in Lake County and across Illinois are facing a major crisis with opioid addiction and overdose. I don’t support the legalization of marijuana.
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?
Idstein: As mentioned previously, one thing the legislature should not do is legalize recreational marijuana. We should find ways to continue to support the opioid initiative projects that Lake County has spearheaded.
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?
Idstein: I would have opposed this legislation because it was a bailout for a profitable billion-dollar corporation and would force rate hikes on hard-working families.
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?
Idstein: Today, the families Medicaid was intended to serve and the families who most need it are not getting the care they deserve because politicians like my opponent make promises they have no intention of keeping. As they continue to expand eligibility without addressing care, those who truly need care actually see their access curtailed.
We should start by ensuring that people on our Medicaid program are actually eligible. That means reviewing the Medicaid rolls to remove cases of fraud or abuse.
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?
Idstein: Budgeting is an exercise in priority setting. For decades, the politicians in Springfield have prioritized their political allies and pet projects ahead of core services. We continue to see the impacts of that. This year’s budget will spend $38 billion, but services across departments are being cut. The only proposal we ever hear from the people in charge is that they need more money. So they propose a retirement tax, a mileage tax, a graduated income tax hike, and a statewide property tax.
As a state representative, I will prioritize spending on core services. I will reform programs that don’t work or are impossible to fund. I will fund programs that drive results. If inmates do not have access to services or opportunities that drive down recidivism rates and prepare them to reenter our communities I will prioritize funding for those services over pet projects like the $35 million that was set aside for a new school in Speaker Madigan’s district.
Should the state restore the practice of parole for people sentenced to long terms? Why or why not?
Idstein: We need to strike a balance between preventing future crimes and allowing individuals the opportunity to make up and move beyond mistakes they may have made in their past.
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.