Name: Daniel Biss
Office seeking: Governor of Illinois
Party: Democratic Party
City of residence: Evanston
Campaign website: DanielBiss.com
Why are you running and why should you be nominated? I’m a middle-class father, community organizer, and progressive state senator, and I’m running for governor to build a state that works for middle-class and working families. I’ve seen firsthand how our state serves the wealthy and well-connected while the rest of us pay the price. Under Bruce Rauner, our state went without a budget for more than two years, jeopardizing school funding, shuttering social services, and costing workers their jobs. But while Bruce Rauner has been a failed governor, he is not the source of our state’s problems: both Democrats and Republicans have failed, for decades, to pass balanced budgets that support our communities. I’m running for governor to reject the political and economic systems that have failed us and to mobilize people across the state around a bold, new vision. This election is an opportunity to do more than get Bruce Rauner out of office: it’s our chance to choose a new path for our state and for the Democratic Party. It’s our chance to elect a candidate who understands the challenges middle-class and working families face, and someone with a stake in fixing our broken system rather than perpetuating it. And we aren’t letting this opportunity pass us by: every day, in communities across the state, we are uniting voters in a grassroots movement to win progressive reforms in this election and beyond.
What is the most important issue facing the state? How would you approach it? The most important issue is how our state has prioritized the wealthy and well-connected over the rest of us. Middle-class and working families in this state face stagnating wages and rising costs of living while corporations and the wealthy few see skyrocketing profits, and our tax system exacerbates these inequalities rather than making millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share. Because we haven’t brought in revenue by passing a progressive income tax, taxing financial transactions, and closing corporate tax loopholes such as the carried interest loophole, there isn’t enough money to balance the budget, resulting in debt and cuts to school funding, social services, infrastructure, and other needs. As governor, I will pass progressive revenue sources to balance the budget and make sure we support communities across the state, especially those that have faced decades of disinvestment.
The state's income tax was increased to 4.95 percent in 2017. Would you try to roll it back? Why or why not? And if so, how would you roll it back? I believe that the best way to raise revenue is to create a progressive tax system in which the wealthy pay their fair share instead of increasing the tax burden for middle-class and working families. I’ve fought for new revenue policies as a legislator, introducing a constitutional amendment to allow for a progressive income tax, sponsoring legislation to tax financial transactions, and co-sponsoring legislation to close the carried interest loophole, and I will continue fighting for these policies when I’m governor. Without these revenue sources in place, I’ve had to make tough decisions in the legislature, such as whether to raise the income tax rate this spring or allow a devastating budget impasse to further harm our public schools, social service providers, and working families. I voted to raise the income tax rate to avoid further destruction, but I’m tired of making these lose-lose decisions that hurt middle-class families like mine —that’s why I’m running for governor. I believe that when there aren’t any good options on the table, it’s time to expand our thinking and create new options. As governor, I will pass progressive revenue sources to build a fair tax system.
Illinois is still running a deficit budget. How should it be balanced? If cuts should be made, what programming cuts should be considered? It is vital that we balance our budget rather than allowing deficits year after year. I believe that we should balance the budget by building a fair tax system in which the wealthy pay their fair share and by improving efficiency rather than by thoughtlessly cutting entire programs or relying on across-the-board cuts, which disproportionately harm low-income communities and communities of color without addressing underlying budgetary issues. I will raise revenue by passing policies I’ve organized around in the legislature, such as a progressive income tax and a financial transaction tax, and by closing corporate tax loopholes like the carried interest loophole. To cut costs without reducing vital programs and services, I will look for ways to consolidate duplicative systems. For example, our state has hundreds of pension systems for different areas and occupations, while other states manage their pensions through far fewer systems. We can consolidate our pension systems without reducing or eliminating payments to save money while also providing better returns on investment and rooting out corruption. Another way to improve efficiency is to allow units of local government to consolidate or even dissolve themselves completely with the support of local voters. For example, I passed a law that allowed the City of Evanston to dissolve Evanston township after a referendum of Evanston voters, which has made government more efficient and saved taxpayers money.
Campaign funding has been an issue in the last few months. Should there be changes in the state's campaign finance rules? Why or why not? If so, what changes would you want to see? The influence of big money in elections is a threat to our democracy. When candidates for elected offices must be either personally wealthy or willing to court big donors and corporations on the campaign trail, we limit the ability of middle-class and working people to run for office and create a political system in which many politicians are beholden to special interests rather than the public. I support overturning Citizens United and will be a vocal advocate of campaign finance reform nationwide, but also believe we must take action here in Illinois. I introduced a public financing small donor match bill out of the Senate, and will continue to advocate for this legislation when I’m governor to build a political system that responds to every person, not just the wealthy few.