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Election 2012: Dee Beaubien

Dee Beaubien is running against David McSweeney in the race to become the state representative of the 52nd Illinois House District.

Name:

Dee Beaubien    

Position Sought:

State representative of the 52nd Illinois House District

Campaign contact information:

Office address: 600 Hart Rd., Ste. 265, Barrington, IL 60010

Phone: 847-381-1898

Email: Dee@VoteDee.org

Website: www.VoteDee.org

Age and birthdate:

70, March 28, 1942    

Family Include as much info as you like (names, ages, number of children, etc.):

Sons, Mark (wife Kelly); Bob (wife Mary); grandchildren, Marco, Luciana, Annie, Bobby, Ella. 

Education include degree(s) and school(s):

  • BA, Northwestern University
  • MA, Counseling Psychology, Northwestern University    

Occupation:

Retired Counselor   

Political Party:

Independent    

Official name of your campaign committee (if you have one):

Citizens for Dee Beaubien        

Previous Elected or Appointed Offices:

None

Is there any additional experience you believe qualifies you for the position?

I have been involved in our community for the past 40 years, working with countless charities and organizations to improve the communities we call home.  

Currently, I serve as a Trustee with the Hospice Foundation of Northeastern Illinois and am on the Advisory Boards for the Barrington Area Council on Aging and Barrington Youth and Family Services.  

I believe both my current and past involvement with these types of organizations gives me insight into the issues that are important to our neighbors.  

I was also side by side with my late husband Mark as he served the area as State Representative until his death last year, giving me the chance to understand the challenges facing local families and the issues that residents are most concerned about.  If elected, I plan to take my years of community involvement and understanding of the issues to hit the ground running.  I believe I am up to speed on the problems facing Illinois and will take that knowledge, along with my belief that we need to put aside political agendas, to work together to solve the problems that are the cause of Illinois’ fiscal crisis. 

What would your priorities be if elected to this office?

As I knock on doors throughout the 52nd District, the one issue that comes up most often is Illinois’ recent increase to both the personal and corporate tax rate. At the same time as residents’ taxes are being raised, they are being hit by increasing property taxes even though their home’s value is in decline. They feel as though government only needs them to throw their hard earned dollars down the black hole that is government spending.  I would support the repeal of the tax increase, but it must be accompanied by further budgets cuts to achieve a sustainable balanced budget.  If a repeal vote fails, then we must keep our promise to the voters of Illinois and let the tax expire.  The tax increase should not be extended.

Illinois must also balance its budget without a tax increase or an extension of the recent tax increase.  As I stated earlier, we need to either repeal the recent tax increase or, if the repeal doesn’t happen, let it sunset as was promised.  Many residents tell me that they would leave Illinois if they could because of the tax rate, but the only reason they stay is because their homes values have dropped so much they can’t afford to sell.  Our elected officials must recognize that our current practices are not only destroying our state today, but also its future.  It’s incumbent on the legislature to recognize this, put aside political considerations, and work to lower taxes, cut spending, and solve the pension crisis.  

I believe that if we are able to put Illinois’ fiscal house in order and bring stability to our state’s short-term and long-term financial outlook, businesses will be more willing to expand or relocate in Illinois.  Until our elected officials put an end to Illinois’ fiscal uncertainty, businesses are going to look elsewhere.  Without their new jobs, we will not be able to put people back to work.  

Like so many of Illinois’ problems, the inability of our elected officials to end the partisan gridlock that has shut down Springfield is one of the main reasons we are in an economic crisis.  We need to end the practices of the past, put an end to decisions based on political goals and instead work with everyone to resolve the problems facing our state.  Only then will we end the gridlock, bring resolution to our problems and put Illinois on the right track.  

What are the most important issues facing your district and what would you do as a legislator to address them?

No matter where I walk door to door in the district residents tell me they want to see job growth, an end to high taxes and resolution to the fiscal crisis that is crippling Illinois.

In order to promote job creation, Illinois must begin to support the business community instead of punishing it with increased fees and frustrating bureaucracy.  We must bring stability to Illinois’ fiscal house, because no business wants to expand or move into a state with so much fiscal uncertainty, both in the short-term and the long-term.  Illinois currently ranks 45th for corporate taxes and 33rd for sales taxes, both of which are driving business away from Illinois and making it unlikely that new businesses will consider moving here. These high tax rates are a result of Illinois government’s mismanagement of its tax dollars. We cannot keep raising taxes on businesses and residents as a means of solving the government’s problems of the past.  

Billions of dollars in unfunded pension liability is also crippling Illinois’ ability to attract jobs and put our fiscal house in order.  The state must also revamp the way the budget is appropriated in Springfield.  

Appropriations committees must have an increased role in the budgeting process with the power to make the cuts necessary to erode the state debt.   We must exercise fiscal discipline through a balanced budget and the prompt payment of unpaid bills.  

Illinois’ government must realize that the practices of the past are crippling our state and that unless we change how we do business, jobs will continue to be lost and our residents will continue to suffer.  I also support the promotion of green technology jobs and investment in infrastructure to get the economy moving and spur job creation.  

Illinois’ state government has a terrible reputation in terms of corruption. What would you do to change the culture of state government that has seen recent governors from both political parties convicted of felonies? 

Illinois government is too heavily influenced by special interests, campaign donations and the influence of money on the outcome of elections.  When an election becomes all about who can raise the most money the real issues get lost.

The temptation to break the law in order to raise those dollars has seen some elected officials, including our recent governor, end up behind bars.
Lobbyists have far too much influence over legislators.  In the last seven years, lobbyists have spent over a million dollars buying meals, drinks and gifts for lawmakers they are trying to influence.  I plan to introduce legislation prohibiting lobbyists from buying anything for a public official.  

I also believe that we need to move the primary date closer to the general election to lessen the impact of money in the General Election. I also support open primaries; in a primary election the voters should be able to vote for the candidate they want regardless of party affiliation.  Illinois should also return to the days when three representatives were elected from each Senate District.  The Cutback Amendment of 1980 had the unfortunate result of consolidating power within the hands of a few while silencing many independent and reformer voices that once sat in the General Assembly.  

Education in Illinois is funded primarily through local property taxes. What changes, if any, would make to that funding system? 

First, I believe the state needs to get its own fiscal house in order so that school districts aren’t forced to wait months for payment from state government.  It is difficult for school districts to budget and pay their bills when the state can’t give them the money they are owed in a timely fashion.  We also need to address the pension crisis that is looming over Illinois.  Until there is resolution to this question, school districts, teachers, and tax payers aren’t going to be able to make long term plans that are needed to provide children with the best education possible.  

Some have mentioned that Illinois needs to shift pension costs from the state to local school districts.  I cannot support such a proposal.  Too many families are already struggling to make ends meet.  A shift from the state to local tax payers will undoubtedly result in increased property taxes.  

Illinois recently passed a significant increase in its income tax, yet the state continues to run a deficit. What specifically should be done to reduce the deficit

Illinois’ unfunded pension liability stands around $83 billion.  We need find resolution to the pension crisis facing Illinois.  Until we do, the state’s unfunded liability will increase by millions of dollars each day.  I think we need to bring all stakeholders together and solve the pension problem facing Illinois.  This not only has the potential to save money but also turn around the fiscal climate in Illinois to one in which businesses want to expand and/or come to Illinois.  

I also believe legislators need to lead by example and take a pay cut while so many are struggling, in part due to the recent tax increase. I think every legislator should take a 10% pay cut. We need to lead by example and if legislators are asking others to live on less, they need to do so also. While this won’t save the state the billions of dollars we need to save, it is a change in mindset that legislators will hopefully carry over to the appropriations process. Money is tight; we need to spend it only on what is necessary and benefits the public.  

I believe we also need to go through the budget line by line, each year, and evaluate how each dollar is spent.  Just because a program was worthy of funding one year doesn’t mean that is necessarily so the following year. Legislators need to stop the practice of rubber stamping programs year after year even when they have stopped being effective. The money saved can be used to pay the state’s old bills or invested into those programs that are needed and effective.   
I would also cut back on travel for state employees, limit trips to conferences and specifically outline what is reimbursable when they have to travel.  We also need to make sure that any overtime is necessary before being approved.

Illinois’ unfunded pension liability is $83 billion. The state’s inability to address the issue recently led Moody’s to downgrade Illinois’ credit rating. What should be done to address the state’s rising pension obligations?

Illinois’ pension debt was my late husband’s greatest frustration during his years of service in the General Assembly, but no one had the political courage to listen to his warnings and do something about it.  It is no different today, as we are still talking about the same problem without any real prospects for a resolution.  He believed strongly, as I do, that solutions can only occur when legislators and those with interests in the pension systems come to the table and agree that change must happen.  

Because the actual pension liability is likely much higher than the $83 billion that has been quoted, it is more important than ever that legislators and stakeholders come to the table truly willing and ready to negotiate. Throwing around blame for the pension problem does absolutely no good for anyone involved. Everyone has to give something up or there will simply be no money to pay anyone. I believe that those who have contributed into the system should be given the benefits they have already earned. I also believe that going forward we must make changes to the pension system that are fair to both the taxpayers and those within the system.   

Raising taxes in order to leave the pension structure in its current form would be the worst possible step to take and would only compound our problems in the future.

As I walk door to door, I hear many residents’ concerns about pensions. While everyone agrees the situation has become a crisis, few realize just how many of Illinois’ problems are connected to our pension debt.  It would help move pension reform along if everyone knew how desperate the situation has become, which is why I believe Illinois should launch a public education program to ensure the public understands the immensity of the situation: each citizen’s share of the pension debt is now around $15,800.  A similar public education program was executed in Rhode Island, where it was stressed that the pension debt was ‘about math, not politics.’  

For example, those who would be affected by potential pension changes should know that less than 15% of private sector employees are covered by an employer-provided defined benefit pension. Despite that, Illinois now offers defined benefit plans to nearly all of its employees.  We need to make sure everyone understands what is wrong with the system, what is being asked of the stakeholders, and what the benefits and/or negatives of proposed solutions will be.

Also of great concern to me is that Illinois does not have actuarial numbers on the monetary value of many of the reforms we propose – raising the retirement age, increasing employee contributions and cutting COLAs. If these changes are going to be proposed and potentially implemented, at the very least, we should have the numbers detailing the cost savings ready to show those involved in the negotiations. This isn’t something that should be done overnight.  

This is a serious issue that demands serious debate, negotiations and consideration and demands a resolution based on the best interests of Illinois, not someone’s political agenda.  

Why would you do a better job representing the district than your opponent? If you are running unopposed, please just share why you are qualified for the position? 

Recently, my opponent, David McSweeney, and I were at an interview together.

One of the issues that came up was individuals who help seniors and the disabled with their health care needs so they can stay in their homes.  The organization that represents them asked to speak with me recently.  I told them that I’d be willing to talk but was sure that we wouldn’t agree on many of the issues they were concerned about.  

At this interview, David McSweeney couldn’t believe that I would even sit down with them, stating that he would never have even met with them.  That is the main difference between the two of us.  I am willing to sit down and meet with those I disagree with because in the end everyone is going to have to be involved if we are going to fix Illinois’ problems.

Visit the Elections 2012: Illinois 52nd House District race page for more information.  

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