Candidate profile: Dan Beiser

NAME: Dan Beiser

AGE: 60

IMMEDIATE FAMILY: Wife: Terri; Daughter: Courtney Lopez; Son: Dane Beiser; four grandchildren

OCCUPATION: State Representative

OFFICE SOUGHT: Illinois General Assembly 111th District

PARTY: Democrat

PREVIOUS ELECTED POSITIONS: Alton City Council, 1987-1989; Alton City Treasurer, 1989-2004; State Representative 111th District 2004-present.

Q. Why are you running?

A. It is an incredible honor to serve as state representative. We are facing serious challenges in the state and we need an independent voice in Springfield to represent the people of the 111th District. The middle-class families of the Metro-East are under assault from Chicago politicians and a governor who is seeking to drive down the wages of workers and decimate the programs that many folks rely on, such as Meals on Wheels and services for domestic violence victims, breast cancer patients, and disabled kids. I want to continue advocating for job creation and protecting our values, such as our Second Amendment rights, and I will keep working to get our state on a better financial path that balances our budget without raising taxes on middle-class taxpayers.

Q. The state recently passed a stopgap budget, but a long-term solution to budget issues has evaded the General Assembly and governor’s office. How should the state solve its budget issues?

A. The first thing that needs to be done is for the governor to drop his unreasonable demands that hurt middle-class families. Elected officials have a responsibility to pass a budget with no strings attached, from either political party. I won’t go along when powerful Chicago politicians propose reckless cuts that take critical support away from in-home care for the elderly, Meals-on-Wheels and life-saving breast and cervical cancer testing for women in our region. I fought to ensure that these important programs were included in the 6-month temporary budget compromise. I also voted 20 times to cut lawmakers’ salaries, including my own, and I refused to accept a salary for a year until a budget was passed because I didn’t think it was right to be cashing paychecks when services were being eliminated. The budget situation must be resolved through reducing state spending, rooting out fraud in our Medicaid system, consolidating or eliminating state government agencies, and closing corporate tax loopholes. A major component of solving our budget problems must be through the creation of jobs in the Metro-East.

Q. Should the state raise income taxes, other taxes or fees, in order fix the budget issues? Why or why not?

A. I do not support any tax increases that hurt middle-class families and seniors. In fact, I have voted 18 times to freeze skyrocketing property taxes and help eliminate some of the financial burden on our families. I also stopped a proposal to tax retirement income.

Q. How can Illinois grow its economy?

A. We need common sense reforms that will help businesses that are looking to grow in Illinois. That is why I sponsored legislation requiring the DCEO to create a new electronic portal to give entrepreneurs on place where they can find all they information need to start and grow their company. There are many similar things we can do that will have a positive impact on our economy. I have voted for workers’ compensation reforms in the past. I believe that changes made in 2011 need to be fully implemented by insurance companies to help businesses see all of their savings. However, I am willing to discuss additional reforms, but I refuse to support any proposal that would hurt middle-class families. While the issue of trade is federal in nature, I am opposed to bad trade deals that put Illinois workers and businesses as a disadvantage. I have also called on the federal government and trade regulators to investigate and stop the dumping of illegal steel into the markets, a practice that has resulted in thousands of layoffs in the Metro-East. Finally, I believe companies that take taxpayer-funded incentives and then send jobs overseas should be forced to pay back every penny. Illinois should not be in the business of financing its own workers being put in the unemployment line.

Q. How should the state solve its pension crisis?

A. The first thing that must be done is for the state to make full payments to the pension system, something I have repeatedly pushed for. Skipping these payments, while teachers, state employees and others continued to make their contributions, created the problems in the first place. I only support pension changes that are constitutional and only made in consultation and negotiation with those who have faithfully contributed to the system.

Q. How should the state approach funding of public education? Is the system broken? If so, how you would fix it?

A. Changing the way we fund education in the state is not easy, but it must be done. We need to find a more equitable way to fund our schools and bring more resources into the classroom. As a former teacher, I know how important this is. We need to change the formula in a way that ensures that all of our local schools get their fair share. That is why I opposed a bailout of Chicago area schools this year. I also support a small tax on the wealthiest individuals to go directly to our schools to help ensure they see increased funding. In addition, I support eliminating the automatic block grant that the Chicago public schools system receives. They should have to make the case for funding, like every other school district. I also support legislation requiring that more of the funding a school receives makes its way into the classroom, so less is spent on administrative needs. I voted for a budget this year that boosts funding for every school in the 111th district, and I will continue to push for budgets that help, not hurt, our schools.