Name: Jason Plummer
Office seeking: State Senate, 54th District
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City of residence: Edwardsville
Campaign website: www.jasonplummer.com
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I’m running for the Illinois Senate to be a strong, independent, and effective voice for the people of Southern Illinois who have been forgotten by career politicians in Springfield. This is my home. My family is from here, I was raised here, and we have built our businesses here. Sadly, bad public policy is hurting Southern Illinois families by pricing them out of their homes with ridiculously high taxes and driving businesses to other states. I’m frustrated that the problems our state currently faces are the same ones I was speaking about eight years ago when I ran for Lt. Governor, only worse than before, and that our state is squandering its vast economic potential to the detriment of the people who live and work here. I know that I can be an effective voice for the people of this district and am committed to delivering results that bring greater opportunity, public safety, and growth.
Who will you support for President of the Senate and why? I do not yet know who is running for leadership, however I can promise the voters that I will vote for the candidate whose values are most in line with my own and with those of the people of the 54th District.
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? My family business has provided quality jobs for hundreds of union and non-union families across the state and Illinois needs both if we are going to catch up to the rest of the Midwest economically. The common enemy of all working people is state government policy that places Illinois at a competitive disadvantage for quality jobs or regulates union and non-union jobs out of existence. The industries that have traditionally driven the economy of Southern Illinois have been hit particularly hard by this.
What is your stance on expanding gambling in Illinois? I am opposed. All data proves that gambling has a destructive effect on families and communities, especially low-income communities, and yet as a society we are turning to this industry to fill government coffers. I find it saddening and immoral that our government is willing to endanger communities and embrace new revenue streams that ultimately lead to the deterioration of the social fabric.
Illinois roads are in disrepair. How would you approach this problem? How would you pay for it? For many years the state has done an abysmal job of prioritizing the allocation of resources. Inadequate road funding in one aspect of this. Infrastructure is one of the core functions of government, and yet for years funds designated for roads by statute (gas taxes, primarily) were expended on other projects. We need people in office who will prioritize the core functions of government in the budget and uphold statute as to how tax dollars are to be spent. Voters recently passed the transportation “lockbox” amendment that ostensibly prevents the state from moving these dollars around. I will make sure that the state is held accountable to the will of the voters on this issue.
What else should be done to address the ongoing opioid epidemic? I have spoken extensively about this issue during the course of my campaign and I believe that the answer to that question is multi-faceted. Foremost, those who are currently struggling with addiction, or whose family members are suffering, need access to education and resources that will allow for fast and effective treatment. Addiction is not a criminal justice issue. The fact that the opioid crisis has received nationwide attention is a positive development in directly confronting the problem and I indend to be vocal on this issue in Springfield. Secondly, local law enforcement are the first responders in cases of opioid related crimes and overdoses. It is absolutely vital that they receive sufficient state training and support to be able to respond effectively to save lives and apprehend dealers. Lastly, those who are peddling these dangerous drugs in our communities must face severe penalties. The damage caused is lasting and profound on often very vulnerable people (many victims of this crisis developed their dependency as a result of prescription medication). I hope to be able to partner with fellow legislators to promote statutory changes that place Illinois at the front of the pack in dealing with this problem.
What should Illinois’ income tax system look like? What rates would you want to see? How would those rates effect the state’s revenues? Southern Illinois has among the highest tax rates in the entire country, when accounting for income and the aggregate of all taxes paid. This circumstance has harmed the region and the state. Our tax structure must be in line with those of neighboring states in order that we be competitive and that we retain our skilled workforce; many of whom are fleeing the state. In order to produce and quality jobs and encourage economic growth it is my deeply held position that we must lower taxes and broaden the tax base. The worst thing we could do now would be to raise taxes on a quickly dwindling population. I adamantly oppose a progressive tax structure that, contrary to political promises, would undoubtedly raise taxes on all Illinois families.
Would you term limit yourself? If so, how many terms? I have always been a strong supporter of legislation enacting term limits and redistricting reform. Unfortunately, we live in a state where a small group of career politicians are able to choose their voters, rather than voters choosing them. When voters have attempted to place the question of drawing legislative boundaries on the ballot, a movement I was very involved in, they were prevented from doing so by Speaker Madigan and special interests who want, above all else, to retain the current power structure. I fully support putting both of these questions before the voters who overwhelmingly support reform and as Senator I will vote to place these questions on the ballot.