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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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Illinois State SenateCandidate for District 29

Photo of Julie A. Morrison

Julie A. Morrison

Democratic
Full-time State Senator
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Economic Stability for the State of Illinois
  • Trust and Transparency in Government
  • A secure Human Services safety net.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Full-time State Senator
State Senator, State of Illinois (2012–current)
State Senator, The Illinois General Assembly — Elected position (2012–current)
Supervisor, West Deerfield Township — Elected position (1997–2012)

Education

Knox College B.A., Political Science (1978)

Who supports this candidate?

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 Julie A. Morrison:

Yes. I support terms limits for legislators as well as term limits for legislative leaders. I am the Chief Sponsor of constitutional amendment SJRCA003 to limit leadership years. I think one of the issues that everyone can agree on in Illinois is that power has been concentrated for far too long. Citizens around the state feel powerless to change the status quo. While representative government does have a built in system for term limits - when constituents are dissatisfied they can vote someone out of office - years of gerrymandering have left this option quite near impossible. This is why we must also support non-partisan redistricting reform, such as Independent Maps.

 

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

While all parties bear responsibility for the budget impasse, I believe partisanship squabbling and the Governor’s refusal to negotiate on the budget without acceptance of the Turnaround Agenda bear a majority of the blame. During the impasse, constituents would ask me what was I doing personally as a legislator to fix this. I went to see the Governor and speak to him one-on-one about what I could do to  help end the budget impasse. I filed legislation to force leaders to meet weekly if we enter a fiscal year without a budget. I was a part of small budget working groups with rank-and-file law makers. I feel the only reason the impasse broke was the pressure from constituents and rank-and-file members like myself. The upcoming school year and a pending construction stoppage, really contributed and raised the voices of constituents. Even then, there was only agreement to a six month budget.  In order to fix this, we need to reform the budget making process. I sat on the Senate Appropriations committee found the process opaque and cumbersome. There are only portions of the budget that are significantly debated, and we need to make sure every single dollar is reviewed.  

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 Julie A. Morrison:

No, I disagree with the Governor. Illinois has a top tier higher education system. The University of Illinois is a world renown university and we must continue to support it and all public universities in Illinois. One issue that continued to come up this session was MAP Grant funding. Illinois made promises to these students that we would support their education. These MAP grants are necessary for these students to continue their education and build their futures. This budget impasse really was stressful on them. The future of these kids should not have been used a pawn in a political game.

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

I think we can find a way to have a more equitable formula. Every child in Illinois deserves a quality education. From Carbondale to Deerfield the state needs to support every student. However there needs to be a hold harmless provision to make sure we aren’t taking funds from other school districts. My first priority is to my constituents, and their children. I’m open to working to find the best way. 

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 Julie A. Morrison:

We need to revamp our overall idea of fiscal discipline. We need to spend what we take in, and anything that is not core, or essential services needs to be curtailed until we eliminate our deficit. When our individual income tax was at 5%, the state was paying off its bills and making its full pension payments. When the rate dropped to 3.75%, our budget did not reflect that. We had to make choices, and I chose to vote against some funding because we could not spend more than what we take in. Without a budget, general obligations such as medicaid and consent decree payments are continuing to be paid, without discretion. At this point, I could not support an effort to ask Illinois citizens to pay more. Until we show that we can eliminate waste, we shouldn’t raise the income tax. I would be open to expanding gaming in Illinois. Everyday people drive to Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin to gamble, lets find a way to keep them here and bring out of state individuals to Illinois. Right now Illinois has hundreds of special dedicated funds that have cash sitting in them. Funds readily available to pay for programs. We need to consolidate these funds, or find a way to more efficiently manage them. Until the General assembly earns fiscal trust back from its citizens, we have to work with what we have, and be disciplined. 

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 Julie A. Morrison:

Yes I support this constitutional amendment. For years the General Assembly has swept cash from different funds to balance the budget or pay for other programs. Our states roads, highways and bridges are in need of repair. A Transportation “lock-box” would ensure all funds that are designated for repair and construction are used for that purpose. I voted yes on HJRCA0036 and was a Sponsor of SJRCA0025.  We have to continue to enforce fiscal discipline.

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 Julie A. Morrison:

Our outstanding pension obligation continues to consume more of our budget every year. When I was first elected in 2012, I pledged to be part of the solution in pension reform. I was a sponsor of SB2404 which was negotiated between the Senate President and the “We Are One” coalition. We can not ignore the fact that our pension problems are the fault of the state. Years of not paying full costs, and taking pension holidays led to this deficient obligation. The pension payment ramp has back loaded most payments to the point were we now have to make substantial contributions. The Illinois Supreme Court has given us clear guidelines of what the General Assembly can do. I think we can explore a consideration option or a pension-buyout option for those whom have already contributed. 

Do you support measures to reduce Illinois’ prison population and divert more money into community-based services?
Answer from Julie A. Morrison:

Yes we should and can continue to explore ways to reintegrate non-violent offenders back into society. The General Assembly has made good progress on instituting criminal justice reform and rolling back on penalties for non-violent offenders. The decriminalization of small amount of marijuana will be a good start. The role of community-based services in these efforts are extremely important. Without support in the community the chances for an individual to reoffend are much higher.  

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 Julie A. Morrison:

 Every citizen has the assumption of innocence, until proven otherwise. I think its the job of legislators to review policies that may not be working property. I know forfeiture laws are important tool to combat the drug trade, but If there are abuses and innocent people are being exploited, lets look and reform the system. 

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

I think its important that every individual feel comfortable and represented by their legal identification. I will continue to support and defend equal protection under the law for all citizens. It is important that we listen to the transgender community on this issue. I will ensure discrimination is not tolerated in our community, schools, or state, and I am interested in supporting a less restrictive change in gender on birth certificates. 

 

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 Julie A. Morrison:

Illinois has taken great strides in recent years with passing a medical marijuana program to help individuals who have terminal illnesses treat pain. This allows patients an option away from regular prescription narcotics that could have adverse affects. I think Illinois will continue to evolve on end of life options. We need to support individuals to make health choices with care and dignity. I would have to have more information, and speak to groups involved such as the Illinois Medical Society and patients’ rights groups.  

 

What measures do you support to reduce levels of gun violence?
Answer from Julie A. Morrison:

 I have been a very strong advocate of reducing gun violence. I support stricter penalties for possession of illegal guns. I support stricter penalties for straw purchases and trafficking of illegal guns. I supported legislation that would develop a check system between Illinois FOID, the FBI and the Terror watch list, to keep individuals who may seek to commit acts of terror away from access to firearms. I am also the Chief Sponsor of legislation that would allow municipalities to ban or regulate assault weapons. This right was taken away during the passage of Conceal Carry. I feel this important local control issue should be returned, and allow citizens to make their own choices about how to keep their communities safe. No one piece of legislation will solve our gun violence problems, and it is important we can look at the issue holistically. This session I focused on the intersection of mental health and gun violence, and was the Chief Sponsor of legislation to strengthen the mental health reporting system.

 

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 Julie A. Morrison:

I am an advocate for raising the minimum wage. It should be the state’s responsibility to set a minimum wage that is consistent with inflation. Right now the 8.25 an hour rate should be raised consistently by a dollar over the next 5 to 6 years to get to 12.50 an hour. If local communities want to raise the minimum they should be able to have that conversation and ability. Raising the minimum wage is an important first step, but it is not a guarantee to fix our economy or pull all people out of poverty. We also need to invest in our small businesses and social programs, as well as get Illinois’ own finances in order. 

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 Julie A. Morrison:

I understand the goal of this legislation is to help people make better choices about their health. However it think it is a punitive measure that could negatively impact low income families. I feel its important for the Illinois General Assembly to promote good public health policy. I don't think a sin tax on beverages is the best way to educate. 

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 Julie A. Morrison:

I am a strong supporter of the development of renewable energy. The state of Illinois should be investing in renewable sources that promote sustainability. I am a sponsor of Illinois Clean Jobs bill, which would increase the state’s commitment to renewable energy sources. Our investment in solar and wind technology now will lead to lower energy costs in the future and promote a healthier environment for future generations. 

Videos (1)

Julie Morrison tells why she should remain the state senator from the 29th district.

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