Name: Mike Babcock
Office seeking: State Representative – 111th District
City of residence: Bethalto
Campaign website: www.babcockforus.com
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I grew up in Roxana and have lived in the metro-east my whole life. I went to school here, started my business here, and raised my family here. This is my home and for too long I have witnessed its economic decline. Friends, family, and jobs have left the state for better opportunities elsewhere. Why has this happened? It happened because policymakers in Springfield have created an environment where people and businesses are overtaxed, overregulated, and have lost faith in the integrity of their government as a result of failed leadership by Mike Madigan and his caucus. This must change and being a force for positive change is why I am running. I want to use the experience I have gained living and working in this community to deliver real results. As Wood River Township Supervisor, I never raised taxes and the township has run budget surpluses for nine years straight. I’m blessed to have started and maintained a successful small business and in doing so I learned all too well how government stands in the way of free enterprise and entrepreneurship. Bureaucracy is strangling existing businesses and leading anyone thinking of coming to Illinois to think twice. These are not small problems, but I am committed to working hard every day to empower our area to realize its vast potential.
Who will you support for Speaker of the House and why? I will be voting for Jim Durkin to be our next Speaker of the House. Leader Durkin understands better than anyone how Mike Madigan’s decades in power have transformed Illinois from a prosperous economic powerhouse in the heart of America into a state that now ranks at, or near, the bottom of the list. He has steadfastly opposed Madigan’s radical agenda and championed balanced budgets, property tax relief for families across the state, and political reforms like term limits and fair maps that would give voters more control over how they are governed. His voice of reason is what we need to move our state toward growth and prosperity.
What is your position on organized labor and the Janus decision striking down the requirement for public sector workers to pay fair share fees even if they don’t want to? I grew up in a union family. My father spent forty years as a union electrician and both my paternal grandmother and grandfather spent their careers as union machinists at a manufacturing plant in Michigan. I, too, was briefly a member of the local machinists’ union when I worked at Olin Corporation. The people who mentored me when I grew up, and who I looked up to most, supported and benefitted from organized labor. As such, I have deep respect for union workers and what they have accomplished for the people of our community. As state representative, I will be doing everything I can to bring good paying jobs back to the metro-east.
What is your stance on expanding gambling in Illinois? Generally, my position is that local communities should decide how they want to handle this issue. It can be an important source of tourism and tax revenue, and it certainly is for communities in the metro-east. I will thoroughly consider every gaming bills as they are presented to me and judge each on its own merits.
Illinois roads are in disrepair. How would you approach this problem? How would you pay for it? Our roads and bridges must be maintained and kept safe. One of the unfortunate consequences of the legislative dysfunction in Springfield is that Illinois has not passed a capital improvement bill in nearly a decade. Undoubtedly, one of the state’s primary obligations is to maintain its infrastructure and I will be a strong advocate for prioritizing infrastructure spending in the budget. This issue is particularly important to the metro-east, where the transportation industry is a vital component of the economy.
What else should be done to address the ongoing opioid epidemic? Legislators must ensure that local authorities have the resources they need, in training and equipment, to confront this tragic and complex issue on the ground. Those suffering from addiction, too, must be treated carefully by the criminal justice system and have access to proper treatment. The criminal statutes must also be clear: anyone pushing opioids into the community must face severe penalties. I am encouraged that there have been several positive steps taken by the General Assembly in recent years to study and confront this problem; passing the Heroin Crisis Act was one such step. I look forward to engaging more thoroughly with this issue and to ensuring that the provisions of these new laws are fully implemented.
What should Illinois’ income tax system look like? What rates would you want to see? How would those rates affect the state’s revenues? First and foremost, the state’s current flat tax system, enshrined in the state constitution, is the fairest and simplest method of taxing income. I believe that raising the state income tax, without passing a single meaningful reform of Illinois government, failed every Illinois resident. I also firmly oppose the proposed “progressive tax” that would, under Representative Martwick’s bill, would raise taxes on everyone making over $7500 per year. This kind of increase would send even more metro-east taxpayers across the Mississippi River, or elsewhere, further shrinking the tax base. It is my firm belief that Illinois cannot, and will not, tax its way out of the mess we’re in. Rather, we must grow the economy and broaden our tax base with new businesses and quality jobs.
Would you term limit yourself? If so, how many terms? I will limit myself to four terms, or eight years, in the General Assembly. I have also signed the People’s Pledge, which supports placing a constitutional amendment imposing eight-year term limits on the ballot for voters to weigh in on.