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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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Illinois State House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 46

Photo of Deb Conroy

Deb Conroy

Democratic
Full-time legislator
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Strengthening security in our neighborhoods and our schools by fighting to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, terrorists, and the mentally ill.
  • Passing a budget that is fair to taxpayers and protects critical services such as life saving breast cancer screenings and meals for homebound seniors from devastating cuts.
  • Ensuring our local schools have the funding and resources they need to succeed.

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 Deb Conroy:

 

I support term limits for both legislators and constitutional officers.  I have always believed that any elected official who is no longer effectively serving the people they represent should not be granted the privilege of continued service. Given the challenges we face, we need public servants who will put everyday people above politics. While I believe there are many people in public service who work hard each day to achieve these goals with integrity and dedication, there are others who are no longer responsive to the needs of their residents and care more about their own political gain than what is best for Illinois. Further, in an effort to increase civic participation and equip our next generation of voters with the knowledge they need to make well informed decisions about who best represents them, I passed a bill to bring comprehensive civics education back to Illinois high schools.

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

Some of the most effective pieces of legislation that I have passed and supported have come to fruition through bipartisan compromise. When it comes to crafting a budget, everyone has different priorities and it is our job as elected officials to work through those differences and come up with the best solution. When that does not occur, we all bear responsibility.

 

As constitutionally mandated, it is the governor’s responsibility to propose a budget and the legislature’s task to enact a budget. Unfortunately, the cooperative process has taken a back seat to a special interest agenda that is irrelevant to the budget process.

 

 

I am eager to get back to a cooperative process that focuses on a long term budget solution. I am hopeful that by taking a balanced approach we can protect critical services without increasing the tax burden on middle-class families.

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 Deb Conroy:

As a mother of four sons who have attended public universities, I understand the burden that paying for college can put on hard-working families in the 46th District. I oppose the Governor’s proposal to slash 30% to higher education because this type of reckless cut would lead to higher costs of tuition, increasing barriers for our young people that are working to create a brighter future for themselves.

 

 

Unlike the Governor, I support needs-based MAP Grants which help enable thousands of students to attend college in Illinois every year. Rather than use our young people and educators as bargaining chips in an ideological battle, we should be investing in our schools and making it easier for our children to attend college in their home state.

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

This issue is very important to me. Before I ran for office, I was a member of the local school board as well as the PTA. I’ve spent my life working to ensure that children, regardless of where they live, have access to the best education possible. It’s why I have supported budget plans all three years I have been in office that increased -- rather than decreased -- the levels of funding for our local schools. But despite years of hard work from education advocates all around the state, Illinois still ranks nearly dead last in the country for state funding of its public schools.

 

I have always advocated for more funding for our local schools. Investments in our students today is an investment in the future of this state. We can and we must do better to ensure that our teachers and our students have the resources they need to succeed. And it’s why I’ve supported the “Millionaire’s Tax” which would generate roughly $1 billion for K-12 education. Adequately funding public education is one of the greatest responsibilities of state government, and it’s one of my highest priorities as a legislator. As a state, we must find innovative ways to fund our public schools that does not include simply raising property taxes on our already overburdened homeowners.

 

There is no question that we must change the way that the state funds our public schools so that every child has access to an excellent education. Those changes, however, should not simply take away money from the schools of children that I represent. I look forward to working with experts and stakeholders on all sides of the education funding reform issue to find a consensus that puts all Illinois students first.

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 Deb Conroy:

As with all new revenue measures, it is critical that we take into consideration any potential effect it will have on middle-class families. I support the “Millionaire’s Tax” which would add a 3% surcharge on income over $1 million and raise $1 billion for K-12 education. I also support closing corporate tax loopholes to ensure that we can continue funding critical services like life-saving breast cancer screenings and in-home care for our seniors.

 

It is important to note that the road to solving Illinois’ budget woes is not going to be easy. It will require a bipartisan effort to make responsible cuts to unnecessary or wasteful programs while also finding revenue solutions that do not harm an already overburdened and struggling middle class.

 

 

One of the first pieces of legislation I worked on as a state Representative was a measure that allowed certain units of local government to consolidate, saving taxpayer money and streamlining state services. I look forward to continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find a balanced solution to some of our most pressing issues.

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 Deb Conroy:

I support the constitutional amendment that would place funds for transportation in a lockbox.

 

Illinois’ geographic positioning makes us a key transportation hub for the Midwest. Our two major international airports and our rail systems are economic engines for the state, and have the potential to grow into even greater assets for Illinois, but only if we properly invest in the necessary infrastructure projects. These investments will not only set us up to be a leader in this field, but also create good-paying jobs for Illinois residents.

 

 

While I do not support a tax on the middle-class, we can generate significant revenue by closing corporate loopholes and going line by line through the budget to eliminate duplicative and wasteful layers of government.

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 Deb Conroy:

I ran for office because decades of neglect and kicking the can down the road left our state, and particularly the pension system, in disrepair. While I supported legislation that would have helped make the pension system solvent, it was ultimately ruled unconstitutional. Now we must use the guidance of the Illinois Supreme Court ruling to bring all stakeholders to the table to carefully craft a plan that will pass constitutional muster that is fair to both the taxpayers and future retirees.

 

 

Clearly there are no quick fixes to this complicated system but I look forward to working with all parties towards a balanced approach that puts our state on sound fiscal solvency.

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

I do not support any measures that would allow dangerous or potentially dangerous offenders to be released from prison early and into our community.

 

I do support investing in community-based services and mental health programs so that individuals seeking help have access to the care they need.

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 Deb Conroy:

 

This is not an issue that has come up in the conversations I’ve had with residents at the door or at the various community events throughout the 46th District. The residents that I speak to are concerned about protecting critical women’s health service like breast cancer screenings and keeping our neighborhoods safe by implementing common-sense gun control measures.

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

 

I have been proud to stand with the LGBT community to pass laws allowing same sex marriage and prohibiting workplace discrimination, and I support efforts that ensure all Illinois residents are treated equally and with the dignity that they deserve. As we did with previous pro-equality measures in the legislature, this deserves a full discussion and an opportunity to address any concerns that may arise. I look forward to seeing the specifics of this particular proposal and continuing to work alongside advocates of the LGBT community.

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 Deb Conroy:

 

While this is not an issue that I often hear about from the voters in my district, as a person of faith, I do recognize and am sensitive to the complex nature of this issue. I believe it is important that we look at all of the research that has been done and how other states around the country have implemented similar policies. There are still many unanswered questions regarding these proposals such as who would have the final authority to make such decisions. The residents I speak to are more interested in the safety of our neighborhoods, funding for our local schools, and protecting critical services like breast cancer screenings for women and Meals on Wheels for homebound seniors.

What measures do you support to reduce levels of gun violence?
Answer from Deb Conroy:

There is no question that we need to do more to prevent violence and strengthen security in our schools and neighborhoods. Across the country there seems to be an ever growing number of

deadly shootings that are carried out by people who should not have had access to deadly firearms. In order to prevent another senseless tragedy, I support common-sense measures that will make it harder for domestic abusers, terrorists, and the mentally ill to obtain guns.

 

 

I support universal background checks on anyone purchasing a firearm and a ban on military-style assault weapons. I will stand up to the powerful gun lobby and champion legislation like House Bill 3160 to get guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and individuals who have a history of violence. As the Sun-Times Editorial pages pointed out, Illinois has more gun dealers than McDonald’s restaurants but the state has no licensing requirements. That is why I support House Bill 1016 which would require gun dealers to be licensed. Additionally, I support House Bill 6303 (now law), which is bipartisan legislation that seeks to crack down on illegal gun trafficking in Illinois. I also co-sponsored House Bill 6588, which would prevent suspected terrorists from obtaining gun permits -- something I believe is a no-brainer.

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 Deb Conroy:

I do support increasing the minimum wage because working families all across Illinois deserve a raise. Not only is it the right thing to do for struggling families, but the evidence is clear that when everyday people have more money in their pockets, they often spend that money locally at small businesses which helps to boost the state’s economy.

 

 

The current minimum wage of $8.25 an hour translates to just $16,500 a year for a full-time employee working 40 hours a week. That is simply not enough to make ends meet, especially for those who are trying to raise a family. We must do more to make sure that many of our hardest working individuals are compensated fairly and are on a path to earning a living wage and entering the middle class.

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 Deb Conroy:

I oppose a tax on soft drinks.

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 Deb Conroy:

Protecting our environment for generations to come and investing in clean energy that will create good-paying 21st Century jobs in our communities is vital to the future of our state. By acting now, we can lay the framework for sustainable solutions that will benefit our state for decades. That is why I am a co-sponsor of House Bill 2607, the Clean Jobs bill.

 

 

I have consistently received a 100% rating from the Illinois Environmental Council for my voting record and was recently endorsed by the Sierra Club.

Videos (1)

Deb Conroy tells why she should remain the state representative from the 46th district.

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