- Position sought: State Representative – 52nd District
- E-mail address: email@example.com
- Phone: 847-387-8193
- Address: P.O. Box 63 Fox River Grove, IL 60021
- Age and Birthdate: 45 (01/03/67)
- Family: Kent and his wife Elizabeth live in Lake Barrington with their two sons.
- Education: Graduate of Purdue University, Political Science
- Occupation: State Representative – 52nd District
- Political Party: Republican
- Official name of your campaign committee: Citizens for Kent Gaffney
- Previous Elected or Appointed Offices: Appointed State Representative – July 2011
Is there any additional experience you believe qualifies you for the position? Prior to my appointment as State Representative, I served as the Director of Appropriations for the Illinois House Republican Caucus.
As Budget Director, I led the fight for fiscal responsibility in Springfield, where I served as the lead budget negotiator for the House Republican Caucus.
I opposed the Blagojevich/Quinn borrowing and spending sprees that led to Illinois’ massive debt crisis. And I worked to unite Republican legislators against the Democrats’ 67% income tax increase that is crippling our economy and hurting our working families.
What would your priorities be if elected to this office?
My top priorities as State Representative are job creation, tax relief for working families, and cutting wasteful government spending and reforming Illinois’ budget process.
What sets you apart from the other candidates?
I am not a typical politician. I am a budget expert who will cut wasteful spending, fight for tax relief and pass real reforms to clean up the mess in Springfield.
I am running for State Representative to bring accountability back to Illinois. I am the only candidate with the experience and dedication needed to get Illinois back on track. Prior to my appointment as State Representative, I served as the Director of Appropriations for the Illinois House Republican Caucus.
I led the fight for fiscal responsibility in Springfield. I opposed the Blagojevich/Quinn borrowing and spending sprees and worked to unite Republican legislators against the Democrats’ 67% income tax increase.
These are tough times for our state. The Democrats that control state government have over-taxed, over-borrowed and over-spent us into an unprecedented debt crisis. To dig Illinois out of this hole, we must cut spending, rein in exploding Medicaid and welfare costs, and pass comprehensive pension reform.
I am a fiscal conservative who will make state government efficient and accountable to the taxpayers. As the only House Republican member of the Budgeting for Results Commission, I am working with private and public sector leaders to reform Illinois’ budget process.
To get Illinois on the right track, it will take serious leadership, fiscal responsibility and real solutions to the problems facing our state. I support common-sense solutions for our families, including the following:
Repeal the Democrats’ tax increase and cut wasteful government spending
Get Illinois back to work with incentives for job creation and retention
Put an end to the over-taxing and over-regulating of our small businesses
Pass real reforms to clean up the mess in Springfield
Fight for property tax relief for homeowners in the Fox River Valley
I am honored to have received the endorsements of nearly 50 local Republican leaders from all four counties in the 52nd House District. I have received the endorsements of the Barrington Township Republican Organization, the Algonquin Township Republican Central Committee Chair, and Team Nunda Republican leaders. I am also endorsed and/or supported by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce PAC, ABATE PAC, the Illinois Association of Realtors (RPAC) and the National Rifle Association.
What should first be done by the state to keep businesses that have strongly voiced the possibility of leaving, such as CME and Sears?
In order to attract businesses and create private sector jobs, Illinois must first get its fiscal house in order. The State cannot continue to over-tax, over-borrow and over-spend.
More than anything, businesses want stability from state government. Illinois needs to truly balance its budget, pass pension reform, and reduce its long-term debt. A balanced budget will provide economic stability and encourage businesses that were once skeptical to reconsider Illinois as a good place to do business.
Illinois has a wealth of resources that can be put to use to create jobs and improve our economy. The way to increase revenues in Illinois is to make our economy more competitive with neighboring states as well as with foreign countries.
Unfortunately, there are some serious obstacles that stand in the way of progress in creating jobs for Illinoisans. Our tort liability laws are anti-business and anti-growth. Workers’ compensation insurance costs cause many businesses to look to neighboring states for friendlier business climates. And our regulatory agencies are slow to respond to businesses’ needs.
As State Representative, I will work tirelessly to improve our business climate to attract employers and good-paying jobs to Illinois. I support passage of real workers’ compensation reform that includes a causation (primary cause) requirement. I support economic incentives for job creation and retention, such as those tax incentives passed in Senate Bill 397. And I want to put an end to the over-taxing and over-regulating of our small businesses.
As the Budget Director for the House Republican Caucus, I strongly opposed the Democrats’ $7 billion income tax increase. I worked to unite Republican legislators against the 67% tax increase that is crippling our economy and hurting our working families. As State Representative, I am sponsoring legislation to repeal the Democrats’ income tax increase (House Bill 5828).
For too many years businesses have been the target for increasing state revenues. Even prior to the tax increase last January, businesses were relocating out of Illinois and choosing other states for expansions. After the tax increase, unemployment in Illinois went up, not down. We need to be a pro-business state in order to keep businesses here and lure businesses from elsewhere. Private sector growth equates to lower unemployment, which leads to increases in personal income and sales tax revenue without rate increases.
In an effort to protect Illinois jobs and provide tax relief to our businesses and working families, I voted to pass a jobs/tax relief package during the fall Veto Session.
As a member of the House Revenue and Finance Committee, I helped negotiate an agreement between Sears and Community Unit School District 300 that will keep Sears’ headquarters in Hoffman Estates while increasing local tax dollar support for D300.
We all wanted Sears to stay in Illinois and we also wanted more funding for our local schools. We could not afford to lose the more than 6,000 local jobs that Sears provides. I worked to ensure that District 300’s concerns were addressed in the final package approved by the General Assembly.
The package agreed to by District 300, Sears and Hoffman Estates will provide D300 and other local governments double the amount of property tax revenue they get from the current Sears Economic Development Area (EDA), while extending the EDA for up to 15 years. D300 also received a guarantee that Hoffman Estates would not use money from the EDA to pay for the operation or bonds for the Sears Centre Arena.
Senate Bill 397 (P.A. 97-636), the omnibus jobs/tax relief package, passed the House on a vote of 81-28-7. It included the following provisions:
- Extends the Sears EDA and provides Sears with EDGE tax credits
- Alters the way the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and other exchanges can source their revenue in Illinois
- Extends the Research and Development tax credit for five years, with an additional five year carry forward; the R & D tax credit is a critical component for Illinois manufacturers
- Reinstates the Net Operating Loss Deduction, which allows businesses the ability to carry their losses forward in a tough economy; this provision will help an estimated 36,000 small businesses
- Increases the estate tax exemption from $2 million to $4 million over a two-year period, lessening the tax burden on family farmers and small business owners
- Extends for five years the sales tax exemptions, credits, and deductions granted to agri-fuels
- Extends numerous jobs tax credits, including the Veterans Jobs Credit.
Senate Bill 397 was a broad-based approach designed to help Illinois compete in the national and global marketplaces. The legislation was supported by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Illinois Farm Bureau, the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois and many other groups.
I also voted to provide working families with tax relief. Senate Bill 400 contains language that will increase Illinois’ Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from the current 5% to 7.5% in 2012 and 10% in 2013. It also increases the state’s personal income tax exemption from $2,000 to $2,050 and provides an annual cost-of-living adjustment. These provisions will eventually provide more than $150 million in annual tax savings to Illinois working families.
Last year, Illinois Democrats hit our working families and small businesses with a 67% income tax increase. I strongly support repealing the Democrats’ tax hike, but unfortunately, that was not an option presented to the House.
Therefore, I voted to provide our working families and businesses with meaningful tax relief. The bottom line is simple – either you are for tax relief or you are against it. I chose to put more money in the hands of hard-working taxpayers, rather than giving it to an over-taxing and over-spending state government.
What can be done to help College Illinois?
The College Illinois prepaid tuition program, which allows parents to purchase contracts locking in future tuition at state universities at the current tuition rates, has more than 50,000 existing contracts with parents of future college students. Unfortunately, the program is so underfunded that the State has placed a moratorium on the sale of new contracts.
Several pieces of legislation have been introduced to reform the College Illinois program. One would require College Illinois money managers to send annual reports to investors in the program. Another would ban the use of money in the investment fund supporting College Illinois to be used to pay administrative salaries and benefits, or to market the plan to prospective investors.
I support the formation of a task force comprised of university leaders, legislators and other interested parties to develop comprehensive solutions to the problems facing College Illinois.
What should the government do to create more jobs?
Please see my response to the earlier question about what the state can do to keep businesses in Illinois.
What are your philosophies on social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion, and what should be government’s role in those issues.
I believe marriage should be between one man and one woman. I oppose same-sex marriage. Social issues are not the focus of my agenda. I believe these issues tend to tear our party apart, when we should be focused on stopping the tax-and-spend Democrats that control state government.
Do you support a gaming bill that would increase the number of casinos or other gambling venues in Illinois? Should a casino be built in Chicago?
The problem with the current gaming package is that it’s too big, and that is why I voted against it. At some point there is saturation and revenues will not increase but simply be distributed differently. I don’t believe gaming is the answer to the current budget problems. As we have seen in recent years with the downturn of the economy, the revenue generated is not consistent.
What do you suggest for property tax relief?
In response to rising property tax bills in the collar counties, I co-sponsored and voted for House Bill 3793, legislation that would offer relief to hard-pressed homeowners who are facing declining home values.
Since taking office, I have received many phone calls from homeowners upset that their property tax bills increased despite the fact that their home values decreased. Some of my constituents had their property tax bills go up as much as 15 or 20%. To me, it is completely unfair for people to be paying higher property taxes when their property values are declining.
The Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) limits local taxing bodies’ property tax extensions to the lesser of 5% or the rate of inflation. However, in 2008 when the housing market crashed and assessments went down, taxing bodies began increasing their levies at the rate of inflation, increasing most homeowners’ overall tax bill. House Bill 3793 would prohibit taxing bodies from increasing their levies in years that property assessments decrease.
House Bill 3793 failed in the Illinois House on a vote of 34-73-5. I was very disappointed in the bill’s failure. This was a common-sense measure to provide real property tax relief to Illinois homeowners. With the housing market struggling and many homeowners seeing their largest asset decline in value, we need to update Illinois’ tax code to reflect economic reality. I will continue to push for property tax relief for our homeowners.
Should the state consider consolidating school districts? What would be the best way to accomplish this in your legislative district?
The State should consider measures to streamline government at all levels and increase efficiencies. Regarding school consolidation, I believe in local control. Decisions on consolidation should be left up to the local voters and school board members.
Should the state legalize marijuana?
Are there ways to reform the legislative scholarship program, or would you support calls to eliminate the program?
The General Assembly Scholarship Program – which is not actually a scholarship, but a $13 million unfunded mandate on our state universities – has been repeatedly abused by legislators who have given tuition waivers to the children of campaign contributors and other politically-connected people.
We need to look at every option available to save taxpayer dollars. This is not the time to be awarding legislative scholarships. Due to the State’s ongoing budget crisis and the scandals surrounding the program, I decided not to participate in the General Assembly Scholarship Program. I will not award legislative scholarships and I’m co-sponsoring House Bill 3901 to end the program entirely.
Who are your political heroes and why?
I would suggest Ronald Reagan, as that is who McSweeney will talk about.
Have you ever been convicted of a felony, sued successfully or had a restraining order placed against you? If so, please explain.