Governor’s race is heating up

Five Democratic gubernatorial candidates discuss taxes, Gov. Bruce Rauner and education during a recent Oct. 17 forum at Aurora University. Photo courtesy of Aurora University

Bernie Biernacki
Special to the Fox Valley Labor News
Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017

“I wasn’t thinking I was going to discuss climate change, but talking to educators — I should have known better,” joked Sen. Daniel Biss.

AURORA — Both Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan equally shared criticism at the Oct. 17 Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Forum, held at Aurora University.

Candidates Chris Kennedy, JB Pritzker, State Sen. Daniel Biss, Tio Hardiman and Bob Daiber fielded questions from Rick Piarson, a political reporter for both the Chicago Tribune and WGN Radio, which broadcast the event live.

All agreed Rauner’s past, current and future actions will most certainly be detrimental to the state and it’s residents — both union members and non-union.


Kennedy was concerned the influx of big money is not the way to run any political campaign. Biss added, saying people must come out and vote down big spending.

State taxes were a big part of the evening. The current state flat tax rate is 4.95 percent. Candidates were asked about a graduated income tax, which would require a re-writing of the state’s constitution. Biss said he is worried the poor and middle class pay more, based on their income or lack thereof, than the rich.

Arcades at Home


Kennedy worried a simple answer on restricting the tax rate can’t be done today if one doesn’t know what the needs will be for the next budget. “Remember, Rauner is a Libertarian,” Kennedy said. “We don’t know if we will even have a budget next year. It is unfair to ask [what the rate will be] now.”

Pritzker said before any decision on what the rate will be, “I have to view what the expenditure will be, what revenue will be available and what future growth will be. There is no one answer. What I can say is [Rauner] is the biggest wasteful spender we have ever had.”

While not saying what the average family’s tax rate should be, Hardiman said the rich of Illinois are not paying their fair share and should be paying a rate of between 7 percent and 10 percent. Daiber was the only candidate to say exactly what the rate should be — if a graduated tax is approved.

“For those making up to $160,000 the rate should be 1 percent,” Daiber said. “And those making more than $160,000, the rate should be 6 percent.”

Pritzker said Rauner doesn’t understand the necessity of investing, particularly with regards to education. “Spending for education is in reality a good investment for all in the state,” he explained. Pritzker said he would focus on universal preschool, building up all education from kindergarten through grade 12 and re-building the state’s public colleges and universities.

Power Forward DuPage


Hardiman said one way to improve the lives of many in the state would be to educating state prisons, so when they are release they have a real chance of success.

Biss said Rauner’s actions (or lack of) has hurt both public and private higher education. “He helped the University of Wisconsin,” Biss said, referring to the increase of Illinois students going to that institution.

Prtzker said putting money into Illinois higher education keeps students here, not in other states.

Kennedy said rebuilding the state’s high education system and particularly research, will bring on a renaissance.

Both Kennedy and Biss believe combining units of government — local, county and statewide — would be a good financial growth measure.

As for Madigan, all agreed he has wielded much power and while working with him, they wouldn’t work for him. Kennedy said Madigan’s career as a property tax attorney, while not illegal, is has been a problem, as it hurt schools by leaving schools less in taxes. Biss added Madigan has been in power too long. Pritzker said he would seek indecently drawn legislative maps and leadership term limits.

Daiber said Madigan has accomplished a lot for the state. “He has kept it together, particularly with the current governor’s actions. “I take my hat off to him for that.”

Candidates discuss building a progressive Illinois

West Suburban Teachers Union Local 571

From left, Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, Sen. Laura Murphy and Sen. Linda Holmes were honored for their dedication to public education and working families. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley

OAK BROOK — When gubernatorial candidates speak to a room full of educators, there’s no doubt they will be asked their opinion on pension reform and the recent passage of a tax credit program to overhaul the way Illinois funds schools.

But three Democratic candidates were surprised when educators also wanted to know their views on fracking, climate change and clean energy.

“I wasn’t thinking I was going to discuss climate change, but talking to educators — I should have known better,” joked Sen. Daniel Biss.

West Suburban Teachers Union Local 571

Educators from western Cook and DuPage Counties gather to hear from three Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Biss, along with Chris Kennedy and Rep. Juliana Stratton — JB Pritzker’s running mate and candidate for Lt. Gov., were invited guests to the West Suburban Teachers Union Local 571’s 12th Annual Legislative Breakfast.

Local 571 President Jane Russell believes it’s in the best interest of her members to meet and form relationships with local legislators. The annual breakfast encourages members to be aware of current political issues and candidates.

West Suburban Teachers Union Local 571

From left, Rep. Juliana Stratton — JB Pritzker’s running mate and candidate for Lt. Gov., Chris Kennedy and Sen. Daniel Biss were invited guests to the West Suburban Teachers Union Local 571’s 12th Annual Legislative Breakfast. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

All three candidates believe a progressive income tax for Illinois is the best way to fund schools.

Stratton laid out a plan she and Pritzker intend to follow: Make preschool universal, bring back vocational training to high schools and apprenticeships for young adults and invest in financial aid and MAP grants.

West Suburban Teachers Union Local 571

West Suburban Teachers Union Local 571 President Jane Russell is dedicated to educating her members on political issues and candidates. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

“We are ready to increase public funding for education across the board . . . by passing a progressive income tax in Illinois. Those who can afford to pay more should do so,” she explained.


Kennedy would like to go a step further and eliminate the property tax system, which would eliminate a conflict of interest in both parties where political leaders are property tax appeals lawyers.

“They’re making money on the property tax system. They’re not going to let us switch to an income tax system — they have a conflict of interest and it’s big money,” Kennedy explained.

With one of the most regressive tax codes in the country, Biss would like to start with repealing the flat tax provision in Illinois’ Constitution and move on to a progressive income tax.

Goldberg, Weisman and Cairo


He also pointed out the issues of school funding was an issue prior to current GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner taking office. As he put it, “things weren’t great in Illinois,” reminding guest two Democratic governors prior to Rauner were imprisoned.

“We have to defeat this horrible governor, but if we only defeat him and go back to whatever we had before Rauner — then shame on us. We need to understand what it was in Springfield, on both sides of the aisle, that stopped us from enacting the progressive policies that our state needs.”

Along with the three gubernatorial candidates, three legislators, Sen. Linda Holmes, Sen. Laura Murphy, and Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, were honored for their dedication and support of public education, labor unions and working families.

Arcades at Home


As a member of the Pension Conference Committee Holmes has stayed committed to defending pension legislation, being the one dissenting vote on SB1.

She held fast to Illinois’ Constitution, which indicated pensions shall not be diminish. “You can’t change the terms of the contract once it’s in place. To me that seemed really, really obvious. Why it wasn’t obvious to everyone else [on the committee], I don’t know,” Holmes explained.

SB1 eventually made it’s way to the Illinois Supreme Court, where it unanimously ruled SB 1, unconstitutional.

“The morning I heard that, I really wanted to pour champagne over my cornflakes, I was so excited,” she said to laughs.

Looking ahead, Holmes and Welch are looking at charter schools. Both legislators are moving forward with HB 768, which creates a charter school application process where only locally elected school boards and parents could decide if a charter school is good for their community.


Welch also is fighting to keep the recently passed tax credit program to five years. “[Republicans] are going to try and make it go even further to where they get vouchers in the public school systems. If that happens, that’s going to destroy the public school systems. We need to be putting more money into our public schools and not taking out money,” he said.

Murphy also voted against the school voucher bill. She knows Rauner’s agenda is to eliminate unions and the pension members have earned. She’s going to continue fighting for public education, jobs, and to close corporate loopholes. “That’s how we make the middle class successful,” Murphy added.