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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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Illinois State House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 12

Photo of Gene Witt

Gene Witt

Republican
Financial Advisor
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Address and resolve the State's financial crisis
  • Term Limits
  • Rebuild the education model throughout the state to deliver a consistent quality education regardless of where in Illinois a student may reside

Experience

Experience

Profession:Financial Advisor
Owner / Financial Advisor, Optimized Benefits (2004–current)

Education

Fairleigh Dickinson University Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Marketing & Economics (1984)

Community Activities

Tutor, Off the Street Club (2001–2010)

Questions & Answers

Questions from Chicago Sun-Times (15)

Do you support term limits for legislators? Do you support term limits for legislative leaders? Please explain.
Answer from Gene Witt:

.Yes.

I do not believe that any elected official should make a career in government.  It is a service to the community and people of the State. Any elected official should be limited to time in office to prevent manipulation of system.

 

I will sponsor legislature to end Gerrymandering and fair district maps

 

 

 

 

Who do you think bears responsibility for the budget stalemate? Do you have your own ideas on how to resolve it?
Answer from Gene Witt:

Mike Madigan, John Cullerton and those representatives who support them, are not only responsible for the stalemate but for the financial crisis. Presenting a budget with a $7.5 Billion deficit is unconstitutional. It is a sign that Madigan, Cullerton and those who voted to pass the budget are not serious or capable to solving our financial problems. Any reasonable, responsible individual will work to reduce spending. In addition we need to increase our tax base, not our tax rate. We must address the pension crisis, we are in a deep hole and there are no sacred cows.

A June 3 New York Times op-ed was headlined “Higher Education in Illinois is Dying” because of significant funding cuts. Do you agree or not with Gov. Bruce Rauner that additional large cuts could be necessary?
Answer from Gene Witt:

It depends, if the current house leadership continues to pass unrealistic budgets and avoid working toward a compromise, then it may be the only solution. This is part of a bigger crisis that needs to be resolved.  

The State is currently spending $4 billion more that it bring in annually. We do not have a solution for the $115 Billion pension problem that is growing. Our State bonds are junk status. So this is a math problem.  We need to make spending reductions, increase annual revenue, ideally by increasing the tax base, not the rate. If we don’t we will lose more than our higher education institutions

 

How should the state’s school funding formula be changed to give all children a better chance at a quality education?
Answer from Gene Witt:

We need to simplify the formula and make it understandable. The current complex formula allows the politicians and special interest groups to direct funding unfairly and avoid transparency. Most of the funding problems stems from the pension crisis. Until this is resolved there is no opportunity for true school funding reform.

Without a budget, Illinois is spending much more than it takes in, leading to an ever-growing stack of bills, underfunded services and a growing deficit. What new revenue sources do you support to help fix this problem?
Answer from Gene Witt:

Illinois needs to attract more businesses, create jobs in the private sector, so that we can increase our tax base. Our workers compensation laws are costly to business owners. Reduce overall property tax burden, lower the cost of government to provide stability, reform Medicaid

If we continue on our path of losing residents and businesses the reduction in the tax base will force us to increase the tax rate which will lead to a death spiral of people and businesses moving out of Illinois

 

A constitutional amendment is on the ballot that would require money raised for transportation not be spent elsewhere. Do you support this concept? Also, transportation planners say more money is needed for roads and bridges, Metra, CTA rail services and the like. Do you agree and, if so, where would you get the funding?
Answer from Gene Witt:

I find is odd and sad that politicians need a constitutional amendment to address fiduciary responsibilities. The lottery was supposed to fund education and those monies are scattered, wasted and used in everything but education. If a department such as CTA needs money to upgrade and repair equipment then the cost of maintaining and operating the CTA should be incorporated into the price of the fare. If the department of transportation needs to improve or repair roads then there needs higher tolls or the revenue from our Gas tax go specifically to those needs.

In the last session, the governor and Legislature turned their attention away from pension reform. What initiatives do you support to reduce the costs of pensions?
Answer from Gene Witt:

 

First off I do believe we have a moral & ethical obligation to honor pensions of most workers that have already retired and are at an age close to retirement

The two main issues with our pension problem are the age in which workers can retire and the cost of living increase they receive once they start collecting benefits.

So the first issue is to set an age in which a state worker can begin collecting benefits. It should be age 65 like the rest of the population

The Cost of Living increase needs to be evaluated on a 5 year basis and adjusted accordingly

Not automatically. Currently a pensioner that retires after 25 yrs of service at age 50 with a pension of $60,000, would collected $3 million by age 80 

Lastly, we need to go to a Defined contribution type plan to stop abuses of our current system 

Do you support measures to reduce Illinois’ prison population and divert more money into community-based services?
Answer from Gene Witt:

Yes, although in the short term we need to expand some funding, especially for mental illness.  We can spend less money in the long run on treating a person with mental illness rather than incarcerating them at $25K or more a year.

 

 

There are calls to reform the state’s civil asset forfeiture system, which allows police and prosecutors to seize and take – permanently – property from someone who has not been convicted of a crime? What is your view?
Answer from Gene Witt:

These laws were originally expanded in the 80’s when the drug trade was greater and authorities needed to seize assets of drug lords. These laws are not meant to be used in cases against the general population for minor offenses. If the authorities are using these laws on the general population, then we need to address the reasoning for that action. I do not tolerate violence or drug activity, but I also do not tolerate for abuse of authority

Do you support allowing transgender persons born in Illinois to change the gender marker on their birth certificate without undergoing surgery first?
Answer from Gene Witt:

No. I think we need to draw a line on this. While I empathize with a person that struggles with gender identity, society cannot accommodate every desire of its people.  A birth certificate is a legal document, Changing documents from the past is opening Pandora ’s Box, history has taught us that people will go to extremes to mislead and take advantage of a system especially for financial gain. We need to draw the line? Can a person change their race, if they don’t feel it fits their identity? Will a white male change his birth certificate to asian female, so they can qualify for government contracts?

What is your view on so-called “death with dignity” — physician-assisted suicide — which has become a contentious issue in other states? California’s End of Life Option Act took effect on June 9.
Answer from Gene Witt:

I think that we need to establish a protocol for evaluating a person’s medical and psychological condition in order to determine if the desire to end one’s life is not driven by a state of depression that could be managed. The argument for keeping someone alive can also be cruel if  driven by financial motives.

What measures do you support to reduce levels of gun violence?
Answer from Gene Witt:

We need a better understanding of why there is a rise of violence in Chicago. Most of the gang related violence, as I understand it, has more to do with territory control and a breakdown of community leadership. Some people may be so lost into the gang culture and have become such violent people that it may not be possible to rehabilitate them. The State needs more prison space to address those individuals that are a danger to society. The residents of these areas are stuck, they have lost confidence in the police and legal system and they also fear the gangs, so they need help. I support the recently harsher penalties for illegal gun trafficking.

A number of states and local jurisdictions (including Chicago) have recently increased the minimum wage. Do you support or oppose a statewide increase in the minimum wage? If so, what should the new minimum be, and by when? Should local jurisdictions be prohibited from passing their own minimum wage laws?
Answer from Gene Witt:

Minimum wage is meant to be a starting wage for learning a skill, not a living wage. While I understand some people are forced to take positions that pays less when they lose a job, it is supposed to be a training position for a new skill. If the minimum wage increase too much it will prevent the expansion and development of new businesses, it will limit opportunities.

I do not support an increase in the minimum wage at this time. The state alone should set a fair and reasonable baseline for starting wages.

In the past couple of legislative sessions, there has been a proposal to add a 1 cent tax on all sugar-sweetened beverages sold in Illinois. Do you support or oppose such a measure, and why?
Answer from Gene Witt:

No, I do not support this tax although I understand the philosophy behind it. One cent is not going to change people’s behavior.  Government has to stop interfering with people’s decision on how they want to live.

In recent years, there has been a growing push to increase the development and use of renewable energy sources. Do you support or oppose these preferences?
Answer from Gene Witt:

Regardless of ones views on global warming, we should basically keep our environment clean

Always look for new ways to provide clean affordable energy

Videos (1)

— October 3, 2016 Chicago Sun-Times

Gene Witt tells why he should be the state representative from the 12th district.

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