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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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Illinois State House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 24

Photo of Andy Kirchoff

Andy Kirchoff

Republican
Recruiter & Scheduler
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • long-term fiscal sustainability for the state of Illinois and the communities of the 24th District
  • restoring social services for the vulnerable and needy
  • ethical and transparent government that residents can trust

Experience

Experience

Profession:Recruiter & Scheduler
Recruiter/Scheduler, Independence Plus, Inc (2013–current)

Education

Loyola University Chicago Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy (2011)

Community Activities

Illinois Leader, Cafe con Leche Republicans (2011–current)

Biography

I’m a lifelong resident of Berwyn and graduated from St. Leonard School in 2003 (Go Lions!). I spent several years discerning the priesthood with the Archdiocese of Chicago before earning a Bachelor's degree in philosophy from Loyola University Chicago.

 

I’m currently employed by a healthcare company that serves the greater Chicagoland area. I also have professional experience in sales, journalism, and political campaigning. In my free time, I enjoy gaming, theology, and human rights activism.

 

I’m running for State Representative because Springfield needs thoughtful, independent leadership that focuses on long-term solutions without losing sight of short-term needs. I’m running because the 24th District deserves conscientious representation that is attentive to the needs and opinions of its entire population. I’m running because Illinois needs—and this district deserves—something better.

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 Andy Kirchoff:

I'm a term limits skeptic, both for legislators and legislative leaders. California has term limits for its legislators, but as former Sen. Leland Yee shows, it's hardly a paradigm of ethical state government! Term limits are sold as a panacea for Illinois' political corruption problem, but I feel that it amounts to "shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic." Now, there are far worse things Illinois could do than to enact term limits. It certainly won't hurt the state's long term prospects for success, and I have no problem bringing this question to the voters for a referendum. But an Independent Map Amendment is a far more substantive means of reform, and I'd rather concentrate on that and other efforts that will truly help change Illinois for the better.

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

I think it's less of a "who" and more of a "what." The real reason Illinois has a budget crisis on its hands is because of the state's pension liabilities. While there would still be unpaid bills and other issues without the pension balloon hanging over our heads, it's very hard to understate just how much pressure the pension liabilities put on budget negotiations. It's more important to acknowledge this as the "elephant in the room" than to focus on the battle of egos between Democratic leaders in Springfield and Gov. Rauner. 

Aside from the pension issue, I would submit that Illinois needs to get to a point where our state balanced budget amendment has some teeth. Nobody trusts Illinois state government right now, especially Illinois residents. This effects our economic well-being, as Illinois' abysmal credit rating shows! Addressing this trust deficit will go a long way to bringing Illinois back to solid financial footing. Speaker Madigan needs to allow members of the General Assembly more power. Until then, I'll gladly take part in the various "working groups" that emerged during the last session of the General Assembly. 


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 Andy Kirchoff:

Sadly I think the Governor is right. The simple fact of the matter is that Illinois pension obligations are sucking away resources from other essential services: higher education, transportation, public health...the list goes on. If higher ed cuts weren't necessary, cuts somewhere else would be. There's also the issue that Illinois really doesn't spend as much as other states relative to its population, which is the result of misplaced budget priorities over several decades. 

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

Illinois current school funding formula fails for 2 reasons.

1) Our current fiscal crunch means that the state isn't able to make the proper contributions to schools that need the additional funding;
2) The current system inevitably results in higher per-pupil spending in wealthier Districts.

Ideally, we'd move to a system where reliance on state aid is minimized; the education of children shouldn't be dependent on a dysfunctional government! To do THAT, however, we need to establish more parity between urban, suburban, and rural schools. A more universalized system would also include more input from parents, and recognize that providing our children with options for both public schools, private schools, and homeschooling resources isn't a betrayal of our history, but a recognition of the role that parents play in the lives of their children.  

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 Andy Kirchoff:

Even *with* a budget, Illinois spends more than it takes in! We've had years of unbalanced budgets that amounted to "kicking the can down the road." It goes without saying that new revenue is obviously needed. I'm open to a variety of tax proposals to "right the ship," but my preference is a carbon tax, offset with an elimination of the state income tax (which isn't sufficient for revenue-generating purposes, anyway). I'm *least* inclined to tax retirement income, and I'd like to reiterate that "stand-alone" tax hikes are not an option. However, we need creative ways to obtain more tax revenue while lowering the tax burden on Illinois residents. I am committed to a good-faith effort with members of both parties to make this happen!

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 Andy Kirchoff:

I certainly agree with the concept; if only such a proposal had been enacted to stop the various "raids" on pension funds over the years! 

Illinois needs more money for just about everything: education, public health, social services, and of course, transportation. But the reason we currently have such a poor level of investment in these basic categories is because of corrupt and inept Illinois state government that had misplaced budgetary priorities for 
many, many years. There is no "magic bullet" solution here. Tax reform would be a good way out of this mess, and I have my own ideas on what economically viable tax reform would like like. Governmental reform is also necessary in order to earn back the trust of voters who have been betrayed by Illinois' political class time and time again. Individual legislators need more power, and legislative leaders need to have less; additionally, I support moving power away from the General Assembly as a body and into the hands of voters.

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 Andy Kirchoff:

One option that deserves further exploration is Rep. Mark Batinick's (R-Plainfield) "buy-out" proposal, where someone could elect to take a "lump sum" payment, in part or in full, instead of the yearly pension payments from the state. Since a "lump sum" would be a willable asset, as well as having potential tax benefits (especially when done in increments), there are built-in incentives for anyone who elects the "lump sum" route. It would also likely survive a court challenge because it would be strictly optional, and it would yield benefits for the state everytime someone elected to take the "buy-out" option.

Obviously, the Illinois Supreme Court's recent ruling makes pension reform much, much harder. But proposals like Rep. Batinick's give me hope that we can earn the trust of both creditors and voters again. 

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

Yes, very strongly! Illinois' incarceration epidemic is obscene. This is a result of many factors, including but not limited: to poor mental health resources; corrupt family courts; and a judicial system that incentivizes inprisonment over restorative justice.

One way to keep the prison population down while also addressing homelessness: adopt the "better way" policy of Albequerque mayor Richard Berry, who decided to tackle homelessness by offering maintenance jobs to the city's panhandlers. I think we'd be surprised to find out how many folks would be out of prison and in gainful employment if they just had the opportunity presented to them! 

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 Andy Kirchoff:

I agree with those calling for reform: civil asset forfeiture is an attack on the private property rights of Illinois residents and needs to abolished. New Mexico recently passed bipartisan legislation that did just that. I see no reason why Illinois can't do the same! 

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

Yes. Not all transgender persons choose to undergo surgery as part of their transition. In fact, surgery is oftentimes the "last resort" for trans individuals. Given that birth certificates are often used for identification purposes, there's a need for a proposal like this. As long as original medical records are left intact for reference and health purposes (and my understanding is that they would be), I see no reason to oppose a bill of this nature. 

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 Andy Kirchoff:

I strongly oppose physician-assisted suicide. Strip away the "physician-assisted" portion of the phrase, and there's no controversy: we live in a country where suicide prevention efforts earn government grants, yet when a person is undergoing a particular kind or severity of suffering, we are supposed to toss aside these efforts and accept a person's suicide as a good thing? 

It is a tragic indictment of our society that so many people believe that it is better to die than to live with medical and cognitive disabilites. I work in the healthcare field, and the witness of the special needs communities has inspired me. To support suicide would be to betray them. I would effectively be saying to them that their lives, and the lives of all differently-abled people, aren't worth living. Instead, we need to focus on efforts to improve the lives of our differently-abled brothers and sisters. We need them. They need us. We're all in this together!

What measures do you support to reduce levels of gun violence?
Answer from Andy Kirchoff:

As a supporter of criminal justice reform, and of restorative justice in particular, I am not keen to impose harsher sentences for gun crimes (or any crime!). At the same time, I recognize that Chicago's level of violence - especially gun violence - is so severe as to demand some kind of policy prescription.

I think a realistic solution would be to allow for families in certain situations to petition courts to remove guns from their households. While I am a supporter of 2nd amendment rights, I think it's important that some level of recourse is available for folks who are in situations where easy gun access serves to escalate a crisis rather than solve a problem.

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 Andy Kirchoff:

I support a $10/hour minimum wage statewide, and I would further allow for local juristictions to pass separate minimum wage laws, as well. There is bipartisan recognition that the current minimum wage simply isn't enough to "get by." While there *are* negative economic consequences to a minimum wage increase (and we should be honest with Illinoisans about this!), the fundamental moral issue remains: full-time employees need to be able to make enough money to "get ahead" - not just "get by" - and we're at a point where Illinois' minimum wage, despite being higher than the national minimum wage, doesn't do that. This isn't to say that there aren't other reasons for Illinois' economic decline, or that a minimum wage increase will be the "cure-all." But it's a good start that recognizes that economic revitalization needs to include those on the margins as well as those at the top.


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 Andy Kirchoff:

I oppose any and all "stand-alone" tax increases. As part of a broader reform effort, I *could* support a tax such as this one (among many others). But we need to stop "piecemeal" measures that allow the legislature to neglect necessary long-term reform efforts. The income tax hike of 2011 failed to alleviate Illinois' budget woes and a tax hike such as this won't solve it, either. The focus of the legislature needs to be pension reform - that's the real culprit behind the budget crisis. 

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 Andy Kirchoff:

It depends on what is meant by "preferences." I'm pretty "green," and I recognize the moral imperative that climate change poses, but we need to be very, very careful in incentivizing any kind of alternative energy production. Wind power was initially sold as viable energy production, but the unintentional harm it's done to bird populations can scarcely be understated. Additionally, government incentives (be it for energy of anything else) often pave the way to unintended negative consequences. This isn't an excuse for doing nothing, of course; but it's important we recognize the potential pitfalls of "going green"!

It's also true that the problems with various alternative energy sources pale in comparison to the problems associated with, say, coal energy production, which is both dangerous to produce and has very, very negative public health consequences. So, in short, yes, I support renewable energy efforts, and I recognize that increasing energy efficiency is the best way forward to accomplish this goal. 

Videos (1)

— October 3, 2016 Chicago Sun-Times

Andy Kirchoff tells why he should be the state representative from the 24th district.

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