Bill Robertson: 2022 candidate for Illinois Senate 27th District
Office sought: Illinois Senate 27th District
Occupation: Former School Board President, School District Superintendent, and Teacher
Previous offices held: ownship High School District 211 Board President and Board Member; Village of Palatine Zoning Board of Appeals
Q: How well did the Illinois government respond to the COVID-19 crisis? What do you think should be done differently?
Our government could have responded so much better, especially in terms of our children and education. Decisions in each school district should be made by the parents, students, and local leaders in those communities, not bureaucrats in Springfield or Washington. This was especially evident during COVID, where leaders in many school districts had whiplash from how often we would work with our community to develop a plan, then have to change everything last minute because of a new state directive. While the state needs to do more to support education, we must reduce mandates because there is no one-size-fits-all solution to education -- every school district is different. I will protect local control of our education. Inconsistent rules were put in place for businesses, with small businesses all shut down while big box stores were allowed to stay open. This devastated many of these family businesses, some of which closed and the rest are still recovering today. We needed more common sense.
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?
I'm tired of the lack of productivity and the street theater in Springfield. Citizens have lost faith in their state government after watching politicians lie instead of advocating for the people. Families and small businesses see their tax bills go up and that money wasted by a government that is ineffective and inefficient. We're facing real problems, yet the people we've elected are doing nothing to help us. I want to go to Springfield to actually work and get things done for the residents of my district and Illinois.
While I disagree with the partisan nature by which the new legislative inspector general was appointed, at least this position is finally filled. Now, we need to remove the artificial shackles that hold the inspector general back and give them full power to oversee and investigate the legislature. If you're doing nothing wrong, you shouldn't be afraid of oversight.
Q: What should the state do to address the still-growing problems with its key pension programs?
As a former president of my local school board, school district superintendent, and teacher, I know this issue very well. I have a proven track record of working to bring all sides together to solve problems and move forward. That requires listening, appreciating good ideas no matter where they come from, and finding common ground. That's what we need because there is no easy solution to the pension crisis. We must fulfill our obligations to those who've paid into the system, while reducing the strain on the state's budget and Illinois taxpayers. That'll require each side giving a little, but working together, we can achieve some early wins for taxpayers, like building on programs such as the pension buyout program that allows pensioners the option to select an accelerated pension benefit payment. This program has given retirees more flexibility with their pensions while helping the state save taxpayer money. Then we have to collaborate on a long-term solution to this systemic problem.
Q: 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.
I'm running for the Illinois Senate for one reason: to get work done for us. And to get work done, you're going to have to work with both sides. Having served as president of my local school board and a school district superintendent, I have a proven track record of working to bring all sides together to solve problems and move forward. Public service should be about getting things done that make people's lives better.
I have delivered balanced budgets, while keeping taxes low. This means working with everyone involved to find compromises.
When I ran for school board, I told a group of residents that I would vote "no" on any administrative salary increases, despite the fact that I was an administrator at the time in my day job. When that vote came around, I stuck to my word and voted "no."
Q: What should lawmakers be doing to stem out-migration from Illinois?
Most people leave because of high taxes and the cost of living in Illinois, but that issue is addressed in a later question, so here I'll focus on another problem driving families out of Illinois: crime. We need to make our communities safer.
We're seeing carjackings, retail thefts, gang violence, and murders throughout Cook County. Criminals aren't being prosecuted, police are scared to do their jobs, and politicians are making things worse instead of working to keep families safe.
Illinoisans have a right to be and feel safe. We need to support, not defund, our law enforcement. It's time we end catch-and-release policies and hold violent criminals accountable for their crimes. And we have to simultaneously provide resources and supports to help rehabilitate these individuals and keep them from becoming career criminals.
Q: Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?
Yes, and our government should support the private sector in moving towards further advancements in greener technology, but we cannot raise taxes, add burdensome regulations, or increase energy costs when families and small businesses are already struggling to make it through a very difficult fiscal and economic time.
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 you offer voters?
Income tax relief for Illinoisans is certainly a long-term goal. We need government to respect our hard earned tax dollars. Illinoisans pay among the highest taxes in the nation, including the 2nd highest property taxes and 2nd highest gas taxes. Add on top of that, record inflation and a weak state economy, this has resulted in Illinois families struggling to make ends meet.
It's clear Illinois has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. We need to live within our means because people in this state can't afford any more taxes. As a fiscal conservative, I have delivered balanced budgets while keeping taxes low. I will work to make government more efficient, finding some early wins for taxpayers, while collaborating on long-term solutions to our more systemic problems.