Christopher Kasperski: Candidate profile, Illinois Senate District 31
In the race for Illinois Senate from District 31, Republican Christopher Kasperski, of Lindenhurst, is challenging incumbent Democrat Melinda Bush, of Grayslake.
The 31st District stretches from Antioch, Zion and Winthrop Harbor in the far northeast corner of the state through Gurnee, Grayslake, Round Lake and Round Lake Beach, and into parts of Wauconda.
Q: How would you rate the governor's handling of the COVID-19 crisis? Does the legislature need to have more input and influence in establishing rules and policies related to stemming the spread of the disease? What you have done differently, if anything? If nothing, please say so.
A: Governor Pritzker arbitrarily chose to exercise his emergency powers indefinitely until a co-equal branch could step in. The General Assembly refused to convene for more than three days, during which they delegated much of their legislative authority over to the Pritzker Administration to do their work for them. Governor Pritzker failed to exercise his power to call the General Assembly into order in Springfield. Of all the powers that he did wield, he ignored one that could have avoided a lot of headaches for himself and his administration. By prolonging his emergency disaster declarations without legislative approval, Governor Pritzker assumed powers that he arguably did not have and promulgated rules that made little sense to the science or the common sense. Given the abnormal and absurd nature of some of Governor Pritzker's orders, I cannot even grade him at a "C" average. Yet I also credit him with leading when the General Assembly was hiding. Therefore, I would give him a grade of "D."
Q: Regardless of whether the federal government provides assistance, what is the impact of the pandemic on the state's economic outlook and what immediate and long-term actions should be taken to address it? Would you support increasing taxes to pay for COVID-19 response or to make up for lost revenue related to COVID-19?
A: Due to the state's budgetary mismanagement, Illinois was staring at a $6 billion shortfall before COVID-19 blew another $6 billion from the budget. The answer should not be to increase the taxes on anyone in Illinois. We are already taxed to the brink as it is, and we cannot afford to continue to lose taxpayers to states that treat and serve them better, as that will only increase the burden on those of us who remain here in Illinois. It is time for the state government to do what they have asked of every Illinoisan and prioritize its spending, tighten its belt, and make sacrifices as we are.
Illinois should cancel the automatic pay increase to state workers, and agencies should submit their budgets with a 17 percent cuts across the board. That would force the government to operate more efficiently and would begin to turn the tide of having such an onerous tax burden and would send a signal that Illinois is changing for the better.
The government needs to do a better job of rooting out the corruption that has plagued it for too long. It costs the taxpayers more than just financially -- people are losing faith in our government and its ability to govern itself, let alone anyone else.
Q: Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should state government be taking to address the issue?
A: Geological evidence indicates that the climate on Earth has always changed. That said, human beings are certainly one variable in the equation that clearly changes the outcome. We ought to embrace the fiscal sensibility that sustainability initiatives can generate. The government can lead by example and encourage others to do the same by working with industry leaders and environmentalists to solve these problems.
Q: Should Illinois prohibit lawmakers from lobbying other levels of government? Should lawmakers be prohibited from becoming lobbyists after their term in office? For how long?
A: Lobbyists seem to be the most vocal opponents to term limits. That makes sense because they want to keep the relationships that they built. A cooling-off period is not enough to remove the sludge from the Springfield swamp. Lobbyists should not be made from former legislators of that legislative body. If they want to take that experience and lobby for a cause elsewhere, that's their prerogative. I don't think that they belong in the halls of the General Assembly to create lucrative deals for themselves based on their public service.
Q: What are the most important components that should be included in legislative ethics reform? What will you do to help them come to pass?
A: We must end the practice of legislators lobbying and lobbyists legislating. When a member of the General Assembly is indicted on ethics-related charges, they should resign. We must rigorously pursue term limits on the entire General Assembly and allow for the government to become representative of the people, rather than special or their own interests.
Q: Describe at least two circumstances in which you have shown or would show a willingness and capacity to act independently of the direction or demands of party leadership.
A: I tend to trend towards classically liberal or libertarian ideals. I have no trepidations about taking on my party when I think that they are wrong. For example, I support and defend all Americans' liberty to marry whomever they want, as I believe that marriage is both a legal and a religious bond. I also support ending the war on drugs that has unjustly incarcerated millions of people and has caused more suffering that is in contrast with America's liberty ideals.
Q: 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 be given to voters?
A: I do not support the effort to abandon the principle of equality under the law and adopt a graduated income tax. It is political doublespeak for them to call it the "Fair Tax." There is nothing fair about using mob rule to siphon as much wealth from whatever arbitrary standard that they establish. They also cannot guarantee that the rates they have proposed now will remain that way for the foreseeable future. As more and more people and businesses leave this state, those who have the means to leave will be the first to take the opportunity, especially if they find themselves the target of the state's insatiable appetite for taxes and spending. The General Assembly recently raised the flat income tax, and now this initiative proves that it was not enough to feed the beast that they have grown for the last four decades.
Q: Do you support any type of tax on retirement benefits?
A: No, Illinois should not tax retirement incomes. The wealthy can relocate their wealth somewhere else, and then we would lose the economic benefit that they provide here. We need to end this pervasive urge to find every single way to use government to take more money from people to pay for their decade's worth of mismanagement, corruption, and over-promises.
Q: What should the state do to address the still-growing problems with its key pension programs?
A: The state needs to level with people and admit that they made promises to get themselves elected that they could not keep. We are hemorrhaging taxpaying citizens and businesses at an alarming rate. We should be careful not to chase even more people away by increasing our already crushing overall tax burden and the cost-of-living here in Illinois. New government employees need to enroll in a 401(k) style program and the remaining pension obligations need to be prioritized in the state's budget, which means that nonessential government services will unfortunately need to be cut to offset that debt until it is paid down.
Q: Protesters have massed in the streets in Chicago and other cities across Illinois for greater social justice and changes in the funding and responsibilities for police. How significant a role does systemic racism play in limiting equal opportunity in Illinois? To the degree that it exists, what should be done about it? What, if any, changes should be made in funding and duties of police?
A: I don't believe the narrative that the justice system is systemically racist. I think that the real world can be a dangerous and scary place for everyone, especially with respect to the tension between police and the people subject to their jurisdiction, and tragic outcomes sometimes do occur. While I believe that the entirety of our state government needs to be defunded and streamlined, I am not in favor of cutting from anything that depreciates the level of training and preparedness that our first responders require to keep us safe. Policing is a very tough and dangerous job, and we need to support those who stand between order and chaos on that thin blue line.