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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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Illinois State House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 59

Photo of Carol Sente

Carol Sente

Democratic
Businessperson & Elected Official
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • A responsible, balanced, bi-partisan budget that structurally addresses our needs for the long term.
  • A new state education funding formula that increases the amount the state provides to our local school districts to lessen their reliance on property taxes.
  • A capital program to rebuild our infrastructure and state & local buildings in need of repair and other methods to stimulate the growth of Illinois' economy.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Businessperson & Elected Official
President, CS Consulting LLC (2015–2016)
Principal, FGM Architects (2012–2014)
Managing Partner/President, SRBL Architects (2002–2011)
Vice President, Vernon Hills Park District — Elected position (2005–2009)

Education

Indiana University, Bloomington, IN Bachelor of Science, Business/Marketing & Advertising Major (1983)

Biography

Carol Sente is a business woman with experience putting people to work and managing budgets. With a career spanning a wide range of industries including architecture, management consulting, advertising and hospitality, she understands how to grow the economy and the pressures of the small business owner.  Her experience creating a great workplace, empowering employees to succeed, balancing budgets, and exceling in a competitive environment all help her to bring real value to her role as Chairperson of the Business Growth & Incentives Committee and the bi-partisan Small Business Owners Caucus she founded.  A fiscal conservative, social moderate, Sente has stood against tax increases and used her experiences in business to make state spending more efficient and effective.  She helped usher in landmark budget reform that requires the state to set a revenue ceiling, develop ground up budgets, make their full pension payment, assemble responsible, performance-based spending plans in bi-partisan committees, and reduce waste, fraud, and inefficient programs. Born and raised in the northern suburbs, Sente knows that we have some of the best schools in country. She proudly serves as an active member of the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Curriculum & Policies Committee to help ensure schools have the funding they need to provide every student with a world-class education. Prior to becoming State Representative, Sente volunteered to help students who lost a parent afford a college education, and was a counselor for eight years at a children's Burn CampAs the former owner of an architectural firm focused on designing environmentally friendly buildings and Vice President of the Vernon Hills Park District, Sente has a passion for protecting the environment through an increase in green energy sources, recycling and reuse.  She understands that green technology can not only help preserve the environment, but can save money and put people back to work. Our state's open prairies present a great opportunity for Illinois to continue to be a leader in green energy.

Carol serves as a mentor to numerous individuals and works actively with her local high schools to grow young leaders.  She speaks to teens about leadership and preparing females to take on executive roles; she is a champion for youth safety and expanding the voting rights of young adults.

Carol Sente is a first generation American; her parents immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe to seek a better life following the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and devastation of World War II. They instilled in her a sense of civic duty and responsibility. She lives in Vernon Hills and is a lifelong resident of Illinois.  Sente was appointed State Representative in 2009 to complete the remainder of the unexpired term of former State Representative Kathy Ryg and was elected to her first full term in 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 Carol Sente:

I believe in the goal of term limits to bring in new ideas and new representation.  Competitive elections are healthy and provide voters with choices.  District 59, in which I currently serve, has always been a highly competitive legislative district.  I have had an opponent in every election, including a primary when I was first appointed.  I have had five competitive election challenges in approx. 7 years in office.  I think that the best way to create competitive elections throughout the State of Illinois is through a fair mapping amendment that stops political gerrymandering of districts as well as the federal government overturning Citizens United to eliminate anonymous Political Action Committees that can contribute dark/secret money to candidates without identifying themselves.  I supported the Illinois Fair Map Amendment and was a chief co-sponsor of HJRCA 58, a similar initiative in the House this spring.  I believe in term limits for legislative leaders.  I was the primary sponsor of a bill for term limits for leaders two years in a row and still support such a measure.  I plan on term limiting myself and returning to private sector work after a reasonable period of time advocating on behalf of my constituents.

 

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

It is the constitutional responsibility of the Governor to introduce a budget and the responsibility of the General Assembly to pass a budget.  State budgets are meant to be a bi-partisan, cooperative process.  Unfortunately cooperation has been lacking in our efforts to pass a budget that prevents deep cuts to the programs and services that middle-class families depend on.  The state should continue working on a long term, bipartisan solution to our fiscal situation coupled with solutions for the issues that need reform to make Illinois a healthier state.  The Governor and legislative leaders need to spend much more time together discussing win-win compromise solutions and have a structured roll call vote ready for members as soon as possible.  I spent considerable effort suggesting solutions for the budget and reform issues to the Governor, Speaker, individual peers, and working groups that I participated in. When I was not selected to participate in the formal working groups, I organized my own bi-partisan group, which included numerous senators and representatives, tax and budget experts, and my local school superintendents.  All session, rank and file members participating in the bi-partisan working groups have made progress. While this work is valuable, it has continually been referred to as a “framework” that lacks detail and has to receive the Governor’s approval because the members present cannot speak for him.  Now is the time for the good work product of the bi-partisan working groups to be turned over to negotiating teams who can speak for the leaders of both sides and get this budget done! We need to work daily on finalizing these negotiations and I personally stand ready to support and participate in a bi-partisan approach.  As a strong advocate for a better budget process since my first term, I definitely believe more work needs to be done to have a more effective budget process.  I am very proud of landmark legislation I worked on called Budgeting for Results that set solid guidelines for a healthier budget process that included setting a conservative annual revenue projection, identification of annual spending priorities, making annual actuarially sound pension payments, building a bottom up (zero-based) budget and measuring the performance of monies spent in the past year before allocating money to state agencies and organizations.

As an entrepreneur and fiscal conservative, I believe in living within our means.  A sound budgeting process and healthy financial condition is the most important responsibility of the Governor and the General Assembly.   We need to pay down our debts and establish a rainy day fund.  The Governor should hold public hearings throughout the state to help him identify budget priorities and goals, then outline his budget goals early in the session, so the General Assembly can begin working on the budget immediately thereafter in bi-partisan, bi-cameral (House and Senate together) working groups versus in the appropriation committee silos that currently exist.  

 

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 Carol Sente:

Funding education is one of my top priorities.  I supported the increased funding for Early Childhood through High School and MAP grants this year.  I believe we need to focus on strengthening our children’s education and making college more accessible for all students.  The path to a good life includes a solid education and life-long learning.  If we strengthen and support our universities and colleges they will continue to be desirable destinations for more out-of-state students, which would play a key role in helping to turn Illinois around.  I do not support the 30% cuts to higher education proposed but I do believe there are some areas where we could cut the administrative costs in higher education and I found the abuses of funding at the College of DuPage troubling.  With that said, MAP, Monetary Assistance Program, grants are an important way to allow low income students to go to college, and I am supportive of the community college measures to reduce the costs of education to students if they meet certain grade and attendance thresholds.  Illinois needs to work with our public universities and colleges to hold them accountable for the use of state funding and one of the best ways to do this is to return to my Budgeting for Results statute and establish clear and measurable performance metrics for our annual allocation of state funds.

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

As a strong supporter of education and active member of the House Education Committee, I support increased state funding to all Illinois schools so that all students regardless of background are afforded the same opportunity to receive a world-class education.  Our state's education funding formula needs to find a weay to make education funding more fair and equitable.  I supported this spring's budget to provide a higher level of funding to all Illinois public schools including all schools in my District.  I do not support a change to the state’s education funding formula that would create a system of winners and losers, or take any money from any of my local school districts.

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 Carol Sente:

Illinois needs to structurally fix our financial problems and pass a fully balanced budget that covers our current year’s spending plan, pays down our unpaid bills to current (within 30 days), pays our current year’s debt payments, and pays a minimum of 1/30th of the accumulated unpaid pension liability.  In rough numbers, we would need to cut approximately $10 Billion from our budget.  Illinois needs to look for creative ways to cut as many expenses as we can and work to eliminate wasteful spending, which we have plenty of.  Both the Governor and Comptroller state we need new revenue.  Any revenue solution MUST include 1. Cuts and 2. Reform of Key Issues. I believe a long term fiscal fix will include a re-structuring of our revenue sources with some revenues sources decreasing and some increasing.  I will only support a budget that protects middle class families, educational standards, and vital human services for seniors and persons with disabilities.

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 Carol Sente:

Yes I supported the transportation lock box measure.  Money for capital projects is typically funded via bonds that are repaid over time.  Although I am not a big proponent of borrowing for short term projects, capital projects are typically financed via this means.  Before we would look at financing capital projects through additional bonds, we should look at generating money for capital projects through cutting our state auto and plane fleet, eliminating the Lieutenant Governor position, combining the Treasurer and Comptroller, rebidding state contracts after a reasonable period of time, and looking for other ways to eliminate duplicative services.  Illinois infrastructure needs to be addressed and provides us with many benefits including creating jobs, improving Illinois' status as a transportation hub, and helps move people and products safely throughout the state.

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 Carol Sente:

The best way Illinois can get our unfunded pension liability under control is to make sure that we make the full pension payment each year.  I am proud to say this has happened each year that I was in the General Assembly and due to a bill I wrote and passed called Budgeting for Results which requires the state to make their full, annual pension payment.  I serve on the Pension Committee, and have supported eliminating end of career pension spiking and various double dipping proposals.  I would be open to discussing with the Governor and four leaders a proposal to continue prior pension bonds when they expire so that we accelerate the timeline for our state to get to a healthier funding level.   I supported the comprehensive pension reform bill, Senate Bill 1, which I felt was a long term solution to fixing our state’s budget problem so that our pension liability would not create a situation where we had to default on promises made to current or future pension retirees. It was found unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court.  In addition to pension statements made above, I am a sponsor of Rep Batinick’s HB 4427, which offers current pension annuitants the option of taking a 75% payout for a lump sum pension payment.  Secondly, the Tier II pension solution, which I voted for, is helping to pay down our unfunded liability.  Thirdly, I would like to further explore Rep Fortner’s pension stabilization plan, which continues pension bond payments once the current bonds expire to increase our funding level. 

 

 

 

 

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

The safety and security of our families and our neighborhoods is my utmost priority. I would not support plans that would allow dangerous or potentially dangerous criminals to be released from prison early and into our neighborhoods.  I would be a proponent of additional prevention initiatives.  We see evidence of children of incarcerated individuals having a much greater risk of going to prison.  It does not escape my notice that the US has the highest rate of incarceration and we are not doing as much as we can to reduce recidivism.  We need to properly treat inmates who have mental health conditions with services not currently available in the prison system.

 

 

 

 

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 Carol Sente:

There have been numerous abuses of civil asset forfeiture reported in the media.  I am just beginning to research this topic.  I am aware that the House held a hearing on this subject last spring and I look forward to a thoughtful bill that addresses any abuses but does not undermine the ability of law enforcement to keep the constituents of Illinois safe.  

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

I am proud to have supported legislation to allow same-sex marriage and prior to that civil unions to take place in Illinois.  I support efforts to bring greater equality to Illinois residents.  I am aware of this topic but to date the General Assembly has not had a thorough debate on this issue.  I would like to learn more about the specifics of any proposed legislation, see the exact wording, and work to resolve concerns that may arise.

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 Carol Sente:

Aside from abolishing the death penalty, which I voted in support of during my tenure in the General Assembly, the "death with dignity" issue qualifies for me as one of the most sensitive issues that I believe I would be asked to consider.  We do not currently have such a measure before us in Illinois but I have read about it and begun to think about the topic.  Having recently gone through the death of my parents in two different hospice situations, it was important to my parents to be able to make a decision that affected how much longer they would live.  My father decided to stop taking certain medications although his lymphoma was very far progressed and my mother had a stroke that left her unable to swallow or talk and decided against a feeding tube.  At the young age of 23, I consulted with my parents on the decision to remove life support from my sister who was in a coma from a car accident and registered with minimal brain waves.  It is because of the impact these experiences have had on me, I would research these issues, consult with many individuals including physicians and Christian community, and conduct personal soul searching to determine what would be the best option should such a measure be presented in the Illinois legislature. 

What measures do you support to reduce levels of gun violence?
Answer from Carol Sente:

I support common-sense measures to prevent deadly tragedies that we read about too often in the headlines.  I stand strong on mental health treatment and preventing mentally ill individuals from obtaining guns.  I support a ban on assault weapons and requiring background checks on anyone purchasing a firearm.  We need to crack down on the sale of illegal guns and close gun show loopholes.  We also need to direct extensive focus on the interaction between the community and the police.  Many of my communities are finding innovative ways for law enforcement to interact with local residents and I am a vocal proponent of these measures.  I am proud to have won the Illinois Crime Commission Bishop Sheil award this year, as well as Legislator of the Year from the Illinois Chiefs of Police for the numerous public safety legislative bills we passed together.  I am particularly proud of a bill on reciprocal reporting that allowed police to notify their local schools of issues in the community.  Some of the best mid and longer term ways to reduce gun violence are to increase education levels, provide youth after school programs, address bullying in the schools, and offer more options for youth employment.  I also served on a bi-partisan Illinois School Safety and Security Task Force to reduce the risk of mass shooters in our schools and increase our preparedness. 

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 Carol Sente:

I support an increase in the minimum wage.  I would prefer a federal change to the minimum wage law over a state change.  I would like to see an exemption for small businesses under 25 employees and potentially for part-time summer students.  As an employer, it is important to me to create meaningful careers for anyone who works for me including the ability to make a valuable contribution to the organization's success, a competitive compensation and benefit package, respect, and regular feedback.  In Illlinois, the vast majority of minimum wage workers are adults, most of them work full-time, often to support a family.  Illinois' current minimum wage of $8.25 an hour equates to $16,500 annually for a 40 hour work week.  This is barely more than I made as a starting salary at my first post-college job in 1983.  The minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation and so I believe we need to do more to help put struggling families on a path to a living 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 Carol Sente:

At this time, I have not supported any tax increases.  I have some concern about the regressive nature of a tax on sugary drinks.  I believe my constituents and Illinois residents want to see a comprehensive solution of major issue reform, budget cuts and elimination of waste before considering new revenue. 

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 Carol Sente:

I support an increase in the development and use of renewable energy sources.  I am the Vice-Chair of the House Environment Committee and a strong proponent of protecting our environment.  I am the former owner of an architectural firm that strongly supported the design of environmentally friendly public buildings and 100% of our architects were certified in LEED design.  I drive a hybrid car and have run numerous environmental bills during my legislative tenure. I received a 100% voting record from the Illinois Environmental Council.  I co-sponsored House Bill 2607 in the 99th GA to raise the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 35% by 2030, help limit carbon pollution, and create clean energy jobs.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I’m running for State Representative because Springfield needs more public servants who are willing to work together to compromise and find solutions.  I am a fiscal conservative, social moderate with the right amount of independence.  I’ve lived in the great State of Illinois all my life and love all this state has to offer.  I don’t like partisan politics, the condition of our budget, or our sluggish business climate.  I believe if you want something to change, you should jump in to participate in the solution, and bring your ideas and energy to fix it.  I’m proud of my record of accomplishment.  In the coming term, I want to participate in bi-partisan working groups to find long term solutions that put Illinois on a more solid path forward    

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