Name: Ben Stratemeyer
Office seeking: State Senator 54th District
City of residence: Centralia
Campaign website: stratemeyerforsenate.com
Why are you running and why should you be nominated? I am running because Illinois is a mess. I have watched failed leadership drive one of the best places on earth into an island of despair. My family has been in Southern Illinois nearly 200 years. Illinois is part of my family's legacy and I do not want to lose it.
What is the most important issue facing the state? How would you approach it? The combination of confiscatory taxes and overly burdensome regulations. We need Tax Relief now! The regulatory environment is a hidden tax. These cause a population out of the state crisis that drives most other issues.
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? Yes. To say that Illinoisans are going to be the most highly taxed place in the United States and attract business and investment is ridiculous. We are not getting the bang for our buck. Every department and agency says they do not have enough money. The state and local governments have more money per capita than other place in the US. Just roll it back.
Illinois is still running a budget deficit. How should it be balanced? If cuts should be made, what programming cuts should be considered? I am a CPA. I have worked in cooperative process to balance local government budgets. To have a real and meaningful budget the state must start with a real revenue figure to manage. In Illinois we start with a spending plan and pretend the revenue will be there because of the great policies. In regards to cuts, I am willing to do with less services. The programming cuts will be a political calculation starting with the Governor's priorities (whoever that may be) and negotiated with the legislature.
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? I am not really qualified to address this issue, but from my limited time on the campaign trail, I think the amount of out of district money constitutes a potential to threat lose local representation. The out of district interests are usually giving with expectations of access in the future.