Democrat Terry Link is the Sun-Times’ endorsed candidate in the 30th district of the Illinois Senate. He faces Republican Soojae Lee in the general election.
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the nominees for Illinois Senate a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois and their districts. Link submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:
Please explain what cause or causes you will make priorities.
Link: In my career, I have always taken a common-sense approach to serving the people of the 30th district. I have, and will continue to, prioritize causes to help the middle class through fair taxes, economic development, public education, and human services.
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.
Link: Tax Relief – Decreasing property taxes for the middle class is a priority for me and to my constituents. The legislature must continue to find solutions to Illinois’ broken tax system and seek alternative methods of funding to reduce our reliance on property taxes.
Seniors – I have worked on legislation to protect our older citizens and ensure them the best quality of life. I passed a bill to protect seniors from counterfeit prescription drugs and to increase the penalties for perpetrators of fraudulent home repair schemes.
Environment – Especially under the Trump administration, it’s essential to preserve the state’s natural resources and continue to make strides in energy efficiency.
Who is Terry Link?
His legislative District:
- 30th Senate
His political/civic background:
- State Senator since 1997
- Chairman of Democratic Party of Lake County
- Illinois State Senator
- Stout State University
What are the most important differences between you and your opponent?
Link: I have demonstrated proven leadership and commitment to my district during over twenty years in the General Assembly as Assistant Majority Leader.
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?
Link:The legislature must pass balanced budgets to offer stability to Illinois residents. The uncertainty is driving people away. Businesses want to know that they are stable and can plan for a three-year budget typical of most companies. This will help attract businesses to the state and create more jobs. We must also continue to invest in infrastructure, perhaps through a capital bill.
In 2017, our state’s unfunded pension liability ballooned to more than $130 billion. What’s to be done about that?
Link:In 2010, I sponsored a police and fire pension reform bill that passed with bipartisan support and saved local governments hundreds of thousands of dollars in pension payments. The bill set up a two-tiered pension system for public-safety workers that pushed back the full benefits retirement age, limited the maximum salary on which a pension is based and required municipalities to contribute more money to pension funds. Many of these changes could be implemented on a state level to control pension costs. However, I am not in favor of a route to pension reform that goes against the Constitution.
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?
Link: Young adults are forced to go to college out of state because it is often more affordable than universities in Illinois. In order to convince students to stay in Illinois, we have to reinvest in our public universities and provide necessary financial aid to ensure students have the opportunity for a quality and affordable education right here in Illinois.
What laws, if any, should the Legislature pass to address the problem of gun violence?
Link:The legislature was able to pass laws to remove guns from potentially dangerous people and to raise the minimum age that one can purchase an assault weapon. But we have to keep going and pass a gun licensing law to hold gun and ammunition dealers accountable for their sales. We should also ban trigger modification devices to ensure an individual cannot shoot off hundreds of shots, as seen in many mass shootings.
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?
Link: Yes, Illinois should pass a fair scheduling law because employees must have adequate notice of a schedule in order to allow for planning of variables like transportation and childcare. The law must also account for the hours an employee expects to work and the money they expect to make when shifts are added or cancelled.
Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.
Link: While I recognize the revenue the marijuana industry could bring to the state, I am cautious of legalizing its recreational use. I would need to see more research about the effects of marijuana, and a specific proposal, before offering my support.
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?
Link: Last year, the General Assembly passed a bill to allow for medical marijuana to be prescribed as an alternative to addictive opioid treatments, which was a positive step in the right direction. But we must continue to allocate resources for opioid addiction treatment and treat it in a way similar to other medical conditions. Treatment should also encompass resources for mental health and post-treatment.
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?
Link:I strongly agree with the objectives of the Act and have always made the environment and renewable energy priorities in my career. The legislature must continue generating jobs in renewable energy and improving energy efficiency in the state, especially in light of the Trump administration’s destructive environmental and energy policies.
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?
Link:As a state, we must aggressively pursue a federal match for Medicaid dollars spent and ensure that providers are still taking Medicaid patients. We must also establish a preventative healthcare strategy to reduce cases of Type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.
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?
Link:This is absolutely a legitimate concern. We have to provide resources for prisoners to learn how to become productive and participating members of society once they’re released. Providing inmates with skills training, and also behavioral therapy and mental health resources, would have the effect of more effective rehabilitation and in turn, reducing rates of recidivism after their release.
Should the state restore the practice of parole for people sentenced to long terms? Why or why not?
Link:Parole should be reinstated for nonviolent offenders. The state cannot afford to let people sit in prisons for fifty years for nonviolent crimes. With the proper resources during their imprisonment, these individuals can be rehabilitated and return safely to society.
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.