Matt Hanson: 2022 candidate for Illinois House 83rd District
Office sought: Illinois House 83rd District
Occupation: Engineer, BNSF Railway
Previous offices held: former Kane County Board Commissioner, Kane County Forest Preserve Commissioner, Aurora Historic Preservation Commission
How well did the Illinois government respond to the COVID-19 crisis? What do you think should be done differently?
First and foremost, our everyday heroes: doctors, nurses, teachers, first responders and front-line workers cannot be thanked enough for delivering essential goods and services while in harm's way. No one experienced stress over the past two and half years quite like they did. There is no blueprint response for an unprecedented global health catastrophe, and unfortunately petty partisanship had a negative impact on our country's COVID response. Taking a cautious response can be frustrating as guidance changes according to new information and greater understanding, but hopefully vaccines and clinically proven therapies now available will help us return to normal. We must continue to look out for one another and remain vigilant.
What are the most important components that should be included in legislative ethics reform? What will you do to help them come to pass?
We've seen there will always be bad actors from both parties trying to exploit loopholes in the system, so our leaders need to continually work to close loopholes before we read about them in investigative reports and indictments. I am open minded to exploring new ideas and solutions. We should look at possible restrictions on lobbyists. We should study other states' efforts to enforce term limits and independent redistricting to see what has succeeded and where they have come up short. We need to keep looking for ways to improve and to do more, for we know someone will always be looking for a new loophole.
What should the state do to address the still-growing problems with its key pension programs?
Pension challenges in our state were created over decades by politicians skipping payments and not living up to their word. What must be done at the outset is stop making it worse. The mess cannot be cleaned up with political sound bites or fantasy land proposals. The real work is having the discipline to make full pension payments every year while exploring smart solutions that fulfill promises to workers and keeps Illinois moving forward financially. Any conversation about pensions needs to have everyone at the table. Full stop. I am committed to having real conversations about our state's financial health, making sure obligations to working families are met, and how we can arrive at smarter financial decisions than our predecessors.
Describe at least two circumstances in which you have shown or would show a willingness to act independently of the direction or demands of party leadership.
While commissioner on the Kane County Board I openly supported the fledgling cannabis industry and how the county stood to benefit by attracting those new businesses to Kane. Despite some dissent and shortsightedness by certain members, I was able to help lower the county sales tax rate for new cannabis businesses from 3% to 2.5%. I also was an active communicator and leader in the distribution of CARES Act stimulus funds.
As one of only three board members that offered an initial distribution proposal, I also monitored the changing federal guidance, state guidance and distribution plans of similar counties around the nation. When over three months passed without fund distribution framework or inclusion of board members' ideas, and those in control wanted to retain all $93 million for County departments, I helped ensure that did not happen. Municipalities, philanthropies, fire protection agencies, small businesses, libraries and others in need received CARES Act aid as a result.
What should lawmakers be doing to stem out-migration from Illinois?
Recent Census Bureau admissions prove Illinois' is actually growing. While a growing population doesn't fit politically driven narratives, I think we can do more to make Illinois the best place to live, work, and raise a family. Find ways to ease the tax burden on the middle class. Create opportunities for high-wage, skilled jobs. Businesses of all sizes need skilled workers, which is why I am prioritizing expansion of high-tech career and vocational training to help young people enter and displaced workers return to the job market.
Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?
It is very clear that climate change is real and much of the responsibility lies with large international corporations that cut corners and lobby governments against change. This poses a challenge, for while Illinois should continue to be a leader in fighting climate and to do our part when we can, the burden for fixing these challenges cannot fall on middle class families in the form of higher taxes or fees. As Illinois continues to build a greener economy and power infrastructure, we must guard against unnecessary rate increases and efforts by polluters to pass costs to customers, both small businesses and families.
The graduated income tax is designed with the intent to reduce taxes for 97 percent of Illinoisans. Do you believe that will happen? Why or why not? What assurances can you offer voters?
I do not hold an office in Springfield at this time, but I am not aware that a graduated income tax is being discussed. Tax relief for middle class families and workers is my focus. Billionaire insiders and massive corporations paying little to no taxes need to pay their fair share. Incentivize work rather than wealth. This can be done by closing corporate loopholes and offering tax credits for middle class families.