The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the nominees for Illinois Senate 24th District a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state.
Democratic nominee in the 24th district, Suzy Glowiak, submitted the following answers to our questionnaire.
Please explain what cause or causes you will make priorities.
Glowiak:Healthcare and the environment are two subjects that need to be front and center in Illinois. My family went through a healthcare crisis when my late husband was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Trying to find quality care, dealing with the healthcare system, and the costs associated created stress on our family, even with insurance. Something needs to be done to improve our healthcare system, because healthcare crises affect people in the 24th district and all over Illinois. Illinois should be a leader in healthcare policy, and set the tone for a national discussion on healthcare.
Protecting the environment is more salient now than it has been in several years. With Trump’s EPA rolling back regulations almost every day, it falls on the states to preserve and expand upon environmental protections implemented by President Obama. We must create a long range plan for the state that builds around environmental policy like transitioning to clean energy, cleaning up pollution that already exists in our communities, and the new technology jobs that come with advances in clean energy. Illinois should prioritize improving standards when it comes to the environment. With the right plan in place, we can also be a national leader on environmental issues.
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.
Glowiak:My first concern is a plan for good government. The citizens of this district have an expectation that government is efficient, in good faith, and does good for taxpayers. That is reflected at the local level here, where partisanship and other issues that are more prevalent in state politics are overlooked in favor of people who are willing to put in the work to benefit their communities. I will take a similar work ethic with me to Springfield.
Education funding is my second big concern. The most important part of the new K-12 funding formula is the state meeting the annual funding goals for the program. Many of the schools in my district are tier 3 and tier 4, meaning that they receive money after schools with lower local funding bases. In order for the schools in the 24th District to receive money under the formula, we must ensure that funding goals are met so that extra funding will be available. Increases in state funding can lead to local property relief for residents here in the 24th District.
My final issue is property tax relief as a whole. In addition to adjusting public school funding, we need to expand the senior citizen homestead exemption so that people in DuPage County do not get priced out of their homes once they retire. Concurrently, the long-time occupant homestead exemption that exists in Cook County should be expanded to DuPage so that people do not feel the need to leave.
Who is Suzy Glowiak?
Her legislative district :State Senate District 24 Her political/civic background Trustee, Village of Western Springs, 2009-2017 Member/Chair, Western Springs Recreation Commission, 1997-2003 Her occupation:Mechanical Engineer Her education Masters in Manufacturing Engineering, Northwestern University Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology Campaign website:www.suzyforsenate.com Twitter:@SuzyGlowiak
What are the most important differences between you and your opponent?
Glowiak:I am a firm advocate for women, especially with the right to choose. Chris Nybo voted against House Bill 40, which ensured that if Roe v. Wade is overturned abortion will remain legal in Illinois. He also voted against equal pay for women in Illinois. With Brett Kavanaugh nominated to the Supreme Court, it is important now more than ever to have people in office who are going to fight to protect women and their rights. I will be a better advocate for women than Chris. I am not going to Springfield for personal gain, I am going because I want to fight for the communities in the 24th district. Since taking office in 2015, Chris has missed almost 100 votes in the Senate, including the budget votes that would have ended the 2 year budget impasse. However, he did not miss votes that increased his pension benefits and healthcare benefits, both of which he supported. I have pledged to not take a state pension, and will be in Springfield when it’s time to take tough votes like the budget. The job of a state senator is to work for the communities they represent; if you are missing votes, you are not doing your job. Up until this year, Chris opposed gun violence prevention measures that were brought up in the legislature. Now that it is an election year, he has been sponsoring gun safety laws. Previously he has voted against keeping guns out of the hands of mentally ill people, and opposed waiting periods for gun purchases. I am a long time advocate for gun safety, and residents of the 24th district can feel confident in my position on the issue.
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?
Glowiak:First, Illinois needs to support more public-private partnerships, especially with post secondary education. We can foster a better workforce if our education system is working with businesses to give people the skills they need to succeed in today’s economy. This will be especially helpful for institutions located downstate and can be used to help rebuild downstate economies. It will also help with local schools like College of DuPage. Second, we need to pass a long term, statewide, comprehensive capital bill. This includes water, transportation, drainage, and other types of infrastructure. This gives more certainty to taxpayers and businesses which would help stabilize the statewide economy. A new capital bill will help businesses move more goods around the state more effectively, improve accessibility of local markets, and maximize profits. Furthermore, all of the construction will create thousands of jobs in the state, and better transportation infrastructure will allow residents more options for convenient commuting.
In 2017, our state’s unfunded pension liability ballooned to more than $130 billion. What’s to be done about that?
Glowiak:The largest unnecessary cost associated with pensions in the last four years has been interest and late fees from delinquent pension payments. The most important thing we can do in the short term is simply make on-time payments to avoid interest and late fees. One tool that would help accomplish this is exploring multi-year budgeting with pension payments. To remove any election year posturing from the negotiations, pension funds should only be discussed every other year. I am an advocate for consolidation, and would like to have a conversation about combining the thousands of levels of government and hundreds of separate pension funds in Illinois to make them more manageable by reducing administrative overhead.
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?
Glowiak:The primary issue driving students out of state is the lack of support for higher education in Illinois. The two year budget crisis had an enormous impact on higher education in Illinois because universities were not able to plan with certainty. This impacted improvements, budgeting, and student confidence that they would receive a high quality education at our institutions. We also are losing students to out of state universities that have developed effective methods of advertising to Illinois students. We as legislators must work with the IBHE and our universities to find ways to make college in Illinois affordable and desirable for students. This process is twofold. First, we need to do a thorough review of our public universities to cut down on administrative bloat. We must explore consolidating our universities under the University of Illinois banner, similar to Wisconsin. Reducing the number of Boards of Trustees, Presidents, and all the way down the administrative ladder would save millions of dollars in salaries annually that could be used to help support students. Second, at the state level a long range plan is needed to increase the percent of university funding that comes from the state and supporting other programs like MAP Grants. This will reduce out of pocket costs for students and free up more money from the schools to be used to financially support students.
What laws, if any, should the Legislature pass to address the problem of gun violence?
Glowiak:If the gun dealer licensing bill does not become law, then one of the first acts of the next General Assembly should be an identical bill implementing a licensing process for gun dealers. This is a common sense bill that cracks down on bad actors and brings the gun industry in line with every other licensed profession in Illinois. I want to lift Illinois’ ban on local assault weapons regulation. Every community should be able to ban assault weapons if it feels that it is in the best interest of that community. Illinois should explore statewide safety standards for schools and other public places that could be targets of mass shootings and other gun violence. As an example, ensuring every school has a safe process for visitors entering so that students, teachers, and administrators feel safe. Determining these standards should be open to students, teachers, parents, etc. and any other stakeholders in K-12 education.
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?
Glowiak:Illinois should consider adopting a fair scheduling law. The most important reason for this is certainty for workers in terms of when they will be working, how much they will be working, and how much money they can expect to make. This will allow workers to reduce the stress in their lives because they will be able to develop a concrete plan both for their time and money. I would fight for the following to be included in the bill: an exemption for unionized workplaces, an exemption for small businesses, and that schedules are provided one week in advance. The small business exemption is in line with many other regulations surrounding small business that allow for greater flexibility since small businesses operate within smaller margins. Finally, the notice time is keeping in line with the goal of the bill which is that employees have their schedule with reasonable notice.
Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.
Glowiak:I am open to legalization of cannabis; however, I would only support a legalization bill that is coupled with strict regulation so that minors are not able to obtain cannabis. Tax revenue from cannabis sales should support meaningful education investments, and used to invest in community support programs.
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?
Glowiak:In 2017, the Illinois Department of Public Health released an ambitious opioid action plan with the overall goal of reducing opioid deaths by 33 percent in three years. This year, the legislature passed several bills addressing opioid use, including medical marijuana substitution for opioids and preventing doctor shopping for opioid prescriptions. Before the legislature makes its next move, we need to see how these bills are working to achieve the goal of a 33 percent reduction in deaths. Then we can ensure that our next steps continue to work toward this goal, by addressing other issues or new issues that come up as a result of the bills passed.
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?
Glowiak:I agree with and support fully the Future Energy Jobs Act. We need to expand on the goals of the law, including more resources for retraining fossil fuel workers in the new clean energy market, more money for transitioning to clean energy in general, and bringing in these new jobs so that Illinois workers can take advantage of the good pay and benefits that come with them. Every effort should be made to support clean energy and the environment as well as the workers.
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?
Glowiak:One solution to Medicaid’s long term viability is to open the program up to people who would not be eligible due to income. Recipients would be able to pay a premium to participate in Medicaid. This would provide an additional source of money for the longevity of the program, and the people buying in would have access to healthcare. In general, I am supportive of public-private partnerships; however, I do not support privatization. So long as Managed Care is providing quality care at standards deemed suitable by the state, I have no issue with it continuing to function. We must have oversight mechanisms in place so that we can quickly address any issues.
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?
Glowiak:This is a very legitimate concern, because the goal of the Department of Corrections is rehabilitation and reentry into society. If services and opportunities to learn a skill are not available through our corrections system, then we are failing to meet that goal. Prison data indicates Illinois is not doing well at meeting the goal. Half of all people in prison in Illinois return to prison within three years of their release, meaning that there needs to be significant improvement to prison services to reduce recidivism. The more people incarcerated, the greater cost it is for taxpayers and prisoners. We have an obligation to break that cycle, to the benefit of both groups. The legislature can take two specific actions to lower the prison population. The first is restructuring sentencing for non-violent offenders to lower the number of inmates in prison. Fewer people in prison means that the current rehabilitation services can have a greater impact on the inmates. Concurrently, efforts should be made by legislators to increase funding and other resources for prison rehabilitation. Some might balk at the increase in cost upfront, but the money saved from the reduction in recidivism and having more people functioning in society will pay for itself, and might even lower the overall cost of prison.
Should the state restore the practice of parole for people sentenced to long terms? Why or why not?
Glowiak:I think we should restore parole for long sentences, but it needs to be a rigorous process that is handled on a case by case basis.
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 ofthe PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported togetherhere.