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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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Illinois State SenateCandidate for District 26

Photo of Dan McConchie

Dan McConchie

Republican
Businessman
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Cut spending
  • Lower taxes
  • Fight corruption

Experience

Experience

Profession:Businessman
Senior Advisor - Public Sector, The Shelby Group (2015–current)
Board Member, Public Works - Village of Hawthorn Woods — Elected position (2010–current)
State Senator, Illinois State Senate — Appointed position (2016–current)
Vice President, Americans United for Life (2004–2016)
Adjunct Professor in Bioethics and Public Policy, Trinity Graduate School (2012–2012)
Director of Public Relations and Public Policy, The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity (1997–2004)
Non-Commissioned Officer - Infantry & Military Police, Army National Guard (1989–1998)

Education

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School M.A., Christian Thought (1998)
Central Bible College B.A., Bible (1995)

Community Activities

Member, Board of Regents, The Fund for American Studies (2012–current)
Member, Board of Directors, Informed Choices Pregnancy & Parenting (2014–current)
Member, Alumni Council, The Fund for American Studies (2004–2012)

Biography

“I’m in the State Senate to cut spending, lower taxes and fight corruption. Together, we can reform our state for us and our children’s future.” 

Dan McConchie is the State Senator for the 26th District of Illinois. 
As a hard working native Midwesterner, Dan’s entrepreneurial spirit goes back to before he could drive. At age 9, Dan started going door to door in his neighborhood offering to do odd jobs like snow removal. In those formative years, he learned the value of showing up early and working hard as well as the importance of ensuring that a customer is fully satisfied. Dan started his first business at age 15 and another while in college.

With a heart for service, Dan joined the Army National Guard on his 17th birthday where he spent nine years in both the infantry and military police.

Dan met his wife Milena at an educational institute on American politics and economics in Prague, the Czech Republic. Together they have two beautiful teenage daughters, share a passion for travel as well as a love of country that comes from the first-hand experience of seeing the world. Dan has traveled to 45 states and over 20 countries.

Professionally, Dan is a Senior Advisor to The Shelby Group, where he works to apply private sector purchasing practices to government. Previously, Dan worked for non-profit groups in states across the country as an advocate for the most vulnerable amongst us. He worked to expand legal protections for all innocent human beings, both at the beginning and end of life, and to help curb sex trafficking. In his work, Dan has been a frequent speaker at events around the country and quoted extensively in the national news media including in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, NPR, MSNBC and FOX News.

In addition to his national work, Dan has sought to give back locally. He has served on the Public Works Committee for the Village of Hawthorn Woods and is currently on the Board of Directors of Informed Choices Pregnancy & Parenting in Grayslake and Crystal Lake. Dan also serves on the Board of Regents for The Fund for American Studies, an international organization training young people for leadership and teaching them the ideas of freedom and free-market economics.

In 2007, Dan was in a hit and run accident in Mundelein while riding a motorcycle that left him with a spinal cord injury and requiring him to use a wheelchair for mobility. While some people stay down when suffering a loss, Dan bounces back. He continues traveling extensively and has taken up sports such as adaptive skiing. His personal motto, which he adapted from his days in the infantry, is “Adapt and Overcome.”

Dan won the Republican Primary in March, 2016 and then was appointed to be Senator the next month . He and his family attend Heritage Church in Lake Zurich. You can connect with Dan on Facebook at facebook.com/danmcconchie or via Twitter @DanMcConchie. You can visit his official Senate website at: SenatorMcConchie.com

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 Dan McConchie:

I believe voters are the ultimate term limit, but for that to work, we need a fair map and equitable campaign finance rules, neither of which currently exist in Illinois. I support putting term limits on the ballot for the people to decide. Leader term limits could address the problems created by the handful of powerful lawmakers who have created the current mess. Speaker Madigan has been in control for over 30 years. When I talk to the families in our community, they are concerned about this concentration of power in the hands of one man. They see a political system designed by the powerful to protect the powerful and their friends. They deserve a system that is designed to help the truly vulnerable and respect tax paying workers and families. Term-limits for legislative leadership could help to bring balance to state government and ensure that multiple interests are represented.

 

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

In my short time in Springfield, I’ve seen that there is enough blame to go around. In our community, we work with people from all backgrounds and political ideologies to help improve our quality of life. I am not interested in playing that partisan blame game that we see in Springfield. I’m interested in serving those in need and protecting working-class families.

Our families are being taxed out of their homes, our state is broke, and we have the highest unemployment rate in the nation. Yet, every time I turn on the TV, another politician is touting their accomplishments. When I open my mailbox, I find another glossy pamphlet arguing that our legislators are doing great things for our community. This charade works for the elite. But it doesn’t work for our families. We pay the highest property taxes in the nation despite all these politicians who claim they are for lower taxes. We don’t have a balanced budget despite all these politicians who claim they are fiscally conservative. I am going to Springfield to do the right thing, not just say the right thing.

We can move Springfield forward in two ways: First, by bringing balance back to the legislature. I’m running for office because after decades of one party rule, the families in our community are suffering and aren’t being served by the state government they finance.

 

Second, Springfield needs independent leadership that is focused on serving our interests, not protecting their own power. The current leaders were put in place to work for us but what we find is that they work for themselves. I’m going to Springfield to work with reform-minded Democrats and Republicans to serve our community and protect our 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 Dan McConchie:

Right now, tuition is 30 to 60 percent higher for our public universities when compared similar universities in neighboring states. And it’s not because we’re not adequately funding our schools. The State of Illinois spends over $12,000 per full time equivalent student, while the national average is around $6,500. 

The problem are the burdens the schools are under because of rules passed on by the state make the cost of doing business in Illinois so high - purchasing requirements, unfunded mandates, prevailing wage requirements, collective bargaining and workers compensation all drive up the cost of education.

Our schools are critical to our state’s future. With tuition so high, many students go to schools out of state never to return. This breaks up families and causes future taxpayers to put down roots elsewhere meaning our future economic engine is threatened.

Since 2009, the system has suffered the steepest enrollment plunge (17.8 percent) by a wide margin among the 50 states, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. Now, hundreds of lightly attended programs are under scrutiny by the Illinois Board of Higher Education, foreshadowing a potential rethink of the state's higher-ed network, a $7 billion industry employing 52,840 and conferring nearly 40,000 bachelor's degrees annually. 

State universities also are hostage to the state's credit rating and its threat of higher borrowing costs, which is the result of the mismanagement of state finances under Illinois Democrats. 

In order to restore Illinois’ leadership in public higher education, we must restore our state to fiscal solvency and efficiency. This requires making politically difficult decisions about the state’s current structure and how it can be reformed. 

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

No child should be subject to a failing education simply based upon their zip code.

The current system that is funded by property taxes and the nebulous General State Aid formula leaves many kids in failing schools with no real options.

I believe that school funding should be attached to the student allowing parents to choose the school best for their child, whether it be public school, charter school or private school.

 

Any reforms in the funding formula short of this must accompany fundamental reforms that ensure a proper education for all.

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 Dan McConchie:

Again, I oppose new taxes until we make significant reforms to the way state government works, and we ensure that the tax dollars families and businesses are paying actually go to provide the services we value.

 

Here are the facts:

     Illinois has more than enough tax revenue - State per capita tax revenues have grown 70 percent more than inflation over the last 33 years. As a result, Illinois collected $265 billion more than it would have if per capita tax revenues had only grown at the rate of inflation since 1983.

     Illinois politicians continue to spend more money than the state takes in - Despite those plentiful tax revenues, Illinois has not had a balanced budget since 2001. That problem will only worsen as the nearly $170 billion in unfunded promises made with respect to state-worker retirements come due. Pension costs alone now consume 25 percent of the entire state general fund budget.

     Politicians’ spending priorities are misplaced - The state of Illinois spends a significant portion of its budget on worker pay, health coverage and pensions, which has crowded out funding for core government services. Funding for state-worker pay and benefits increased by nearly 600 percent from 2000 to 2015. That contrasts sharply with funding for core services, which stagnated during that same period. Higher education spending is down 8 percent, human services funding is up only 10 percent, public safety spending is up 12 percent, and funding for K-12 education is up 35 percent.

     Record tax hikes didn’t fix Illinois’ budget problems - The massive 2011-2014 income-tax hike did nothing to solve Illinois’ fiscal crisis or fund social services. Instead, the additional tax revenues fueled Illinois’ failed spending priorities: government-worker pay and benefits. Politicians doubled payments to pensions during those four years, while funding for K-12 and higher education actually fell by nearly 10 percent.

 

 

Illinois needs to prioritize its spending, and cut unnecessary and wasteful spending. Then, in order to return the state to solvency long-term, we have to make structural reforms to our failing systems.

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 Dan McConchie:

I support the amendment because Democratic leaders have raided the transportation budget for too long for other priorities leaving our infrastructure crumbling. Right now in my area, IDOT typically has 300 projects out for bid. Because of the lack of funding, there’s only about 70 projects out for bid right now.  This amendment is important to protect the funds that are dedicated for transportation projects.

 

In regards to new, additional funding, we must get our fiscal house in order first. That means we need a real budget and take care of the current backlog of bills. Then we can examine what projects need additional investment and how the funds to pay for it can be found.

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 Dan McConchie:

The state has a $111 billion (and growing) unfunded pension liability. Illinois simply cannot tax, borrow, or invest our way out of a debt this big. I do support another attempt at pension reform because Illinois has:

  • the largest unfunded pension liability in the nation
  • the worst credit rating in the nation
  • the highest unemployment in the Midwest

About 25% of the state budget is spent on pension payments while most states only spend 5%. And, even before the budget impasse, our ability to deliver services had greatly deteriorated. If left unreformed, our severely underfunded pension system will continue to grow and completely swallow the state budget.

Courts have ruled over the years that important state interests can justify limiting constitutional rights. In fact, the Illinois Supreme Court acknowledged the principle in a 1985 case involving a change in the computation of judicial pensions that left some judges with lower benefits. The constitution “does not immunize contractual obligations from every conceivable kind of impairment or from the effect of a reasonable exercise by the states of their police power,” the court said in Felt v. Board of Trustees. A similar line of analysis in the pension case must lead justices to consider the fact that the reforms serve an important state interest.

The state needs to test the constitutionality of moving all current public employees into self-managed plans for future work, while protecting already-earned benefits. This approach is more likely to pass constitutional review, because it focuses on changing future benefits that have yet to be earned.

I support reforms that transition government employees away from defined benefits and toward 401(k)-style plans, such as those in the private sector. This is critical to improving the finances of the state and to move control of retirement funds away from the politicians and allow retirees to control their own money.

I also support pension reform bill HR 752 (from 2015) which lowers costs by providing a lump sum buyout of current and future annuitants potentially saving the state billions long-term.

The pension issue is an issue of fairness. Is it fair for working families making an average of $50,000 per year to finance lifetime benefits for government workers? Is it fair to perpetuate a state pension system where pension checks could bounce and pensioners could be left with nothing? State workers deserve the security and control of owning their own retirement accounts and shouldn’t have to pay into a system that may collapse and leave them with no money when they retire.

We need to pay workers what they’ve earned, including promised pensions, and let them control their futures. Unless major changes to the public pensions in Illinois occur in the near future, government employee pensions are destined to go the way of those in Detroit. 

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

In 2015, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner committed to reducing Illinois’ prison population by 25 percent by 2025. Illinois had the most overcrowded prisons in the nation as of Dec. 31, 2014, and the state’s annual prison costs reached $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2015. Many of Illinois’ prison admissions have come from lower-level offenders – in fact, 55 percent of the increase in prison admissions between 1989 and 2014 was due to more individuals convicted of Class 4 felonies, the lowest level of felony, and mostly for nonviolent crimes.

Reducing the number of nonviolent offenders in Illinois prisons might make perfect sense from a policy perspective. And according to recent polling on criminal-justice reform, a large majority of Illinois voters support this objective.

In May, the Illinois Policy Institute commissioned Fabrizio, Lee & Associates to conduct a poll of 500 registered Illinois voters to gauge opinion on criminal-justice reform.

Eighty-three percent of poll respondents support reducing the number of nonviolent offenders in Illinois prisons – including 92 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of Independents.

Over 80 percent of respondents in all parties think politicians can be tough on crime and support criminal-justice reforms “such as community supervision, mandatory drug testing and treatment programs – instead of prison – that reduce the likelihood the offender would commit a new crime.”

Pollsters also asked how a political candidate’s support for reducing the prison population would factor into a voter’s support for that candidate – and found that 53 percent of respondents are more likely to support such a candidate, while only 9 percent of respondents are less likely.

 

Illinois voters are saying they want something different in criminal-justice policy. I believe policymakers have a mandate to deliver.

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 Dan McConchie:

I believe that law-abiding citizens have the right not to be aggressed against by their government.

Individuals have the right to exercise dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the right of others to live in the manner they choose.

Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite principle: that the State has the right seize private property, to dispose of the lives of individuals and the fruits of their labor.

 

I reject the uncheck power any government to do these things, and hold that governments must not violate the rights of individuals: namely, (1) the right to life—accordingly I support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action—accordingly, I oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and expression; and (3) the right to property—accordingly, I oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation.

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

I believe that birth certificates should reflect a person's biological gender.

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 Dan McConchie:

I do not support physician-assisted suicide. The purpose of the medical profession is to heal. When should never incorporate into the medical profession the practice of assisting in the taking of life as well as healing. 

The typical criteria to qualify for assisted suicide is that the person must have a terminal illness in which they have less than six months to live and be mentally competent. This puts the onus on physicians to predict, however unreliably, whether a person is terminally ill and if the person is rational or results from impaired judgment. This is not an exact science, but rather judgement calls on behalf of the medical profession.

According to disability advocates, "intractable pain" has been emphasized as the primary reason for enacting assisted suicide laws. However, the top five reasons doctors actually reported in 2016 in Oregon for assisting in a suicide are "loss of autonomy” - 92%, “less able to engage in activities” - 90%, “loss of dignity” - 79%, “loss of control of bodily functions” - 48% and “feelings of being a burden” - 41%. None of these are related to intractable pain.

Additionally, "intractable pain" often exists because it is not properly treated. Better training of physicians in palliative care would eliminate the vast majority of cases utilized to defend physician-assisted suicide.

 

What measures do you support to reduce levels of gun violence?
Answer from Dan McConchie:

Gun violence is an issue primarily in select neighborhoods in the state and is related more to gang activity than any other reason. To reduce gun violence, we need a multi-pronged approach.

First, we need to encourage better quality education. No child should suffer a poor education simply because of their zip code. High quality educational options help students dream of a better future for themselves and their families. We also need to strengthen the individual family unit. The more intact families a community has, the less children tend to join gangs or resort to crime.

In addition to a better education, we need more early childhood education options in our poorest communities. The better head start we give kids even before they get to school, the better their future prospects are.

We also need to look at creating enterprise zones in our hardest hit communities to encourage entrepreneurial growth and investment. The availability of more jobs in our poorest communities lifts everyone up.

 

Lastly, we must do whatever we can facilitate the building of civic institutions in these communities. One local group in the East Garfield neighborhood started a summer basketball league and saw a massive drop in crime in that area. Communities that come together to solve problems in their area can provide lasting change that doesn’t require ongoing governmental involvement.

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 Dan McConchie:

While minimum wage increases is a highly populist idea, 79% of all economists agree that the minimum wage increases unemployment among the young and unskilled. There are sound reasons why.

The short explanation is that prices are convey real information about underlying scarcity. As Professor Antony Davies puts it, “Prices are not levers that set value; they are metrics that reflect value.” When politicians say that by raising the minimum wage the government can, in one step, “raise the incomes of millions of working families,” they are missing this most fundamental fact about prices.

The immediate effect of an increase in the minimum wage is this - some workers are paid a higher wage, the rest get laid off. Here’s the facts:

1. Employers will use less labor. This might seem obvious to non-politicians, but when you raise the price of something, people will buy less of it. By increasing the cost of unskilled labor, employers are encouraged to invest in more capital (machines, equipment, technology) and in higher-skilled, more experienced, more productive workers.

2. Unemployment among unskilled workers will rise. Workers who are making the minimum legal amount are, by definition, on the margin of employment. They tend to be disproportionately young, uneducated, inexperienced, and unskilled. If you raise the cost of employing them above what market rate for their skills are, you will price them out of the labor market.

When the minimum wage is raised, it becomes harder for young and unskilled people to get hired in the first place, as they compete for entry level jobs in the market.

Anyone who isn’t skilled or experienced enough to produce as much in output per hour as the minimum wage requires they be paid for that work simply will not get a job. Employers will invest in more machines to raise the productivity of their employees, and hire more skilled workers.

Additionally, the minimum wage doesn’t hurt everyone equally. Minimum wage earners are on the margin of employment — they are the first to lose their jobs and the last to get hired if the price of labor is forced up.

 

Minimum wage laws ensure that no one works for less than a certain amount, and this leads to much self-congratulation among its supporters, but it merely conceals the problem it is supposed to solve, by making sure that people who can’t produce that amount make nothing. And that is, and always will be, the only real “minimum wage.”

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 Dan McConchie:

I do not support a “Soda Tax” or any other “Sin Taxes” on the people of Illinois. They are scams perpetrated on families and businesses by the people who seek to expand government at the expense of the private sector. Proponents of such taxes peddle them by claiming they are looking out for our health. In reality, liberal politicians have already spent the revenue the tax will generate. So, the state will actually DEPEND on Illinoisans continuing to drink sugary soda, or smoke cigarettes, or eat fatty foods because they need the revenue.

 

Furthermore, I will oppose new taxes until we make significant reforms to the way state government works and ensure that the tax dollars our families are paying actually go to provide the services we value. 

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 Dan McConchie:

I oppose government picking winners and losers in any arena. While energy is needed to fuel a modern society, government should not be subsidizing any particular form of energy. I oppose all government control of energy pricing, allocation, and production. With regard to renewable or alternative energy, I support market-based solutions.

 

That being said, there is a large and growing segment of the population that has a very large interest in renewable energy. More and more people recycle, use renewable energy, and clean up their act every year. It is getting better. And it's because market forces are pushing for it.

Political Beliefs

I believe that the less government interferes in everyday life, the more freedom it extends, the better the people are served. I believe that government should only do those tasks that cannot be done profitably by the private sector. I believe it is immoral for government to borrow money it doesn’t plan to pay back, but instead hand that debt off to our children. That is generational theft.

I am a strong proponent of free enterprise, an economic system that has lifted millions out of poverty and dramatically increased the wealth and well-being of those live in countries with economic freedom and the rule of law. I believe that society’s safety net is best administered by private institutions who can effectively bring healing of mind and soul to those in need.

I believe that the family is the most vital unit in society. Government policies should encourage families to stay together whenever possible.

Videos (2)

— March 4, 2016 Dan McConchie

Candidate summary of why he's running for office.

— September 30, 2016 Chicago Sun-Times

Incumbent Dan McConchie tells why he should remain the state senator from the 26th district.

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