House 96 candidates differ on budget strategy
When it comes to solving the state's $13 billion budget crisis, the candidates for the 96th House seat have vastly different ideas for righting the ship.
Incumbent Republican Darlene Senger has proposed a multitiered five-year evaluation period while her challenger Dawn DeSart, a Democrat from Aurora, promises to bring an ax to Springfield.
"There is no question at all. Everyone understands the big issue with the state is its budget and its inability not only to come up with a budget but to come up with a balanced budget, said Senger, who is wrapping up her first term. "I don't have a plan that has every detail covered but closing this gap is not going to happen in one cycle. Everyone understands that so let's work out a five-year budget to get us where we need to be state government.
DeSart, while unfamiliar with the budget intricacies, doesn't think the state can wait five years. She said the budget needs to be posted online as soon as possible so even those not in House and Senate chambers can see where their dollars are going.
"I believe transparency is the best way to be accountable and prove to taxpayers where the money is going, said DeSart, who is in the middle of her first term as member of the Indian Prairie Unit District 204 board. "And is the money doing what needs to be done for that program to succeed? If not, it's cut.
Along with determining goals for cuts and implementing them over a five-year period, Senger's plan also includes a pension piece that would restructure the current system to install a 401(k) on the back end once a predetermined salary limit is reached.
"For those pensions that are high and large, which draws a lot over 40 years, you get them out of the system so now you're not top heavy, Senger said. "Why that makes sense for those in a higher bracket, is that now you can manage those funds as you see fit for your own bracket and your own planning. So if you want to get more aggressive you can.
The third piece, Senger said, would involve a complete overhaul of the Medicaid system.
"That puppy is a whole other animal, she said. "There is so much abuse in that system that needs to be cleaned out.
DeSart agrees the pension and Medicaid systems need sorting out but not until after she gets back from the wood shed with the budget.
"We need to go through the budget with a fine-tooth comb, line by line, and find out what's working for us and what's not working for us, DeSart said. "We need to make sure we fund the necessities in our state and then take a giant ax to it and start cutting.
The 96th District covers a large portion of western Naperville, eastern Naperville and a small portion of Warrenville.