Illinois House 84th District Republican nominee: Patty Smith
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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.
Republican Patty Smith, running against Democrat Stephanie Kifowit, submitted the following responses:
Please explain what cause or causes you will make priorities.
Smith: As I knock on doors in my district, property taxes are the number one concern I hear from families. Illinois has the highest property taxes in the nation. Springfield must shoulder a significant portion of the blame because of the unfunded mandates imposed on school district, townships, municipalities and county’s. As a representative of the people, property tax reform will be my top priority. Pension reform must also be addressed. In addition to the highest property taxes in the nation, Illinois also has the highest unfunded pension liability in the United States. We must move away from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan or some combination of both. There is a reason that Fortune 500 companies such as United Airlines and US Steel have moved away from defined benefit plans. That reason is that they are unsustainable and don’t work! While I do not believe that government can be run like a business. I do believe that government can learn from and implement best practices utilized by American corporations.
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.
- The current school funding formula is not fair and equitable to all of the school districts in the 84th district.
- In 2017 district 84 lost two large manufacturing industries, Caterpillar and Butterball. The loss of these industries was the loss of nearly 2000 hourly jobs. Additionally, the Fox Valley Mall is struggling to keeps its doors open after losing half its anchor stores. We are at great danger of the entire facility shutting down. The closure of the Fox Valley Mall would be catastrophic to this district and result in additional job and revenue loss.
- Giving the hard working people of the 84th district a voice in Springfield. Our current State Representative is a rubber stamp for Speaker Madigan. Due to Madigan’s gerrymandered maps, his majority gives him the ability to pass terrible bills by allowing members in “target districts” to claim independence by voting NO on bills that are destined to pass. My opponent has perfected this scheme.
Who is Patty Smith?
She’s running for: Illinois House of Representatives, 84th District
Her political/civic background:
- 2008 Volunteer of the Year Award – City of Aurora
- PTA President Waubonsie Valley High School, Granger Middle School, Steck Elementary School, Indian Prairie Pre School
- Board member and parent advocate, Gigi’s Playhouse Fox Valley
- Chairman, Western Suburb National Association for Down syndrome
Her occupation: American Bar Association Certified Paralegal at Prairie State Legal Services
Her education: Lamar University; College of DuPage
Campaign website: VotePattySmith.com
What are the most important differences between you and your opponent?
Smith: The most important difference between me and my opponent is my opponent has voted to keep Mike Madigan in power as State Speaker of the House, and leader of the Democratic party at every opportunity. Therefore, my opponent is a part of the political corruption in Illinois. My opponent has received more than $732,000 in campaign funding from Mike Madigan which does not take into account this campaign cycle. My opponent is a rubber stamp to the status quo in Springfield. I will oppose Mike Madigan as State Speaker of the House. I will be able to vote for a decrease in both corporate and individual taxes rates by advocating for badly needed reform. Our Medicaid system is being abused, the unfunded pension liability is crippling our state budget, and residents have fled the state for three years in a row. The only state in the nation with three years in a row of outmigration. My opponent has failed to address any of these issues. I will not!
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?
Smith: Legislators need to get the House in order by doing the job they were sent to Springfield to do. Legislate in the best interest of the people with policy rather that the current system that legislates with special interests and politics. This means supporting economic growth and pro-business policies to grow jobs and improve family incomes, supporting property tax relief, and revenue-based budget to restore confidence in our state’s fiscal future.
In 2017, our state’s unfunded pension liability ballooned to more than $130 billion. What’s to be done about that?
Smith: With pensions consuming an upwards of 25% of the overall state budget the current system is unsustainable. Illinois needs pension reform. All pension benefits earned to date need to be paid. Moving forward all new state employees should shift to a 401(k)-style contribution plan allowing retirees to have control over their retirement funds. The Illinois General Assembly has failed on numerous occasions to responsibly manage this program. After decades of investing in a failed system, it’s time to look at alternative options in the private sector.
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?
Smith: Speaking from recent experience I recently had 2 of my children graduate from college. My son Gregory graduated from Eastern Illinois in December 2017 and my daughter Elizabeth graduated from Indiana University May 2018. While my son was at Eastern Illinois, enrollment plunged to an all time low. Programs were dropped, classes were merged, professors lost their jobs and students were in jeopardy of not being capable of completing their major. In addition to the regular vigor of being college students, EIU students attended rallies conducted by lawmakers and administrators informing them that the future of their university was as risk of closing its doors. Additionally, the condition of the buildings, dorms, and grounds were not properly kept. Any construction was left undone and an eyesore.
On the contrary, my daughter who attended Indiana University was given monies for her good grades, wrote for school grants and was able to drop IU’s $47,000 out of state tuition to lower than that of U of I who offered her no monies nor opportunity for grants. Throughout her 4 years at IU the campus flourished and enrollment grew. The campus was beautifully groomed with constant state-of-the-art construction swiftly being constructed and completed.
With the support and direction of their parents, the majority of my children’s friends left the state of Illinois for college and most of them have chosen not to return. Many went to colleges that offered opportunities to obtain in state tuition with simple measures to become in state residents. They also chose universities that contain all the amenities that attract young college students.
Illinois Universities have not kept up to the standards of those in surrounding states. The Illinois budget crises has creeped its way into our Universities causing further devastation to the future of our state by the out-migration of young students. Procurement reform would be one area that I would like to see addressed. Once again, the special interests have stood in the way.
What laws, if any, should the Legislature pass to address the problem of gun violence?
Smith: I support the second amendment but believe in common sense efforts to improve public safety. Just this past year, two such common sense policies were enacted – extending the waiting period for firearm purchases and the firearms restraining order allowing law enforcement to remove guns from individuals found to pose a danger. Considering the seriousness of this issue, the legislature should continually look at ways to improve public safety.
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?
Smith: All employees should have the common curtesy of their employer to receive a timely work schedule. Oregon is the first state to implement the “fair scheduling “laws and New York followed. Said laws only went into effect July 2018. Illinois is currently struggling to be a business-friendly State therefore I would hesitate to add additional regulations on business. However, Illinois should stand-by and learn from it’s sister states.
Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.
Smith: With strict regulation, I would consider legislation to legalize marijuana in Illinois.
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?
Smith: Opioid addiction is a terrible tragedy that we must all work together to combat. I was glad to see a recent law enacted expanding the medical cannabis program to reduce the reliance on opioid prescriptions. A comprehensive approach must be taken to combat this issue, involving lawmakers, the medical community and law enforcement.
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?
Smith: The Future Energy Jobs Act passed in 2016 and went into effect June 1, 2017 therefore it is too soon to measure its success. It’s objective to strengthen the Illinois economy and provide clean energy for the future is exciting and promising. Another component of addressing clean energy is personal responsibility. Every resident should do more to conserve our resources by recycling and limiting their energy to the essentials. For the past seven years myself and my daughter Kathryn have committed one day per month to attend local resource fairs and promote ways individuals and households can conserve energy in their daily living.
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?
Smith: As a mother who has raised a child with Down syndrome and as a dedicated employee to my non-for-profit legal agency where we provide free legal serviced to low income residents in 36 Illinois counties, I understand firsthand the monumental need of social services, i.e. Medicaid. First and foremost, we must care for our disabled, elderly, and frail. Using my own 27-year-old daughter with Down syndrome as an example, I have advocated for her to become gainfully employed, within her limits. As a result, she is paying her share into the system which earned her eligibility for Medicare relieving the strain and drain of the Illinois Medicaid system. Providing a system to ensure those who are capable of gainful employment are able to find work within their limits is one avenue to assure the longevity 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?
Smith: The underfunding of the Department of Corrections is just another example of the effects of the State of Illinois budget crisis. It is important to help those who have been incarcerated get back on their feet. Part of the work I do at the non-for-profit legal agency I am employed by is to assist with expungement for those who have been incarcerated and are having difficulty obtaining employment and/or housing. I believe we should be helping those incarcerated so upon release they are able to re-enter society and become productive citizens.
Should the state restore the practice of parole for people sentenced to long terms? Why or why not?
Smith: That would depend on the type of crime. Studies have shown that home confinement and work release programs have been very beneficial to both the parolee and their families. Anything we can do to help keep families united is a huge positive!
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.