Maura Hirschauer: 2022 candidate for Illinois House 49th District
Office sought: State Representative, 49th District
Occupation: State representative
Previous offices held: Current state representative -- 49th District
Q: What needs to be done structurally to make the legislature more effective? What is your position on term limits in general and for legislative leaders specifically?
A: We must work to regain public trust. I supported measures to put term limits on legislative leaders and to expand the statement of economic interest form to increase transparency in state government. I was proud to support a former federal judge to fill the critical position of Legislative Inspector General to investigate allegations of ethical misconduct.
I'm open to discussing term limits on rank & file legislators; however, I am concerned that states that have enacted term limits have further empowered lobbyists and insiders.
Having never run for office before 2020, I consider myself a political outsider, and I believe that elected officials are more effective when they actively engage with constituents.
In the last two years I've opened my office to the community through advisory committees. I go door-to-door to speak with folks and I host community events and town hall meetings to bring state resources directly to families. Effective and accountable leadership begins with trust.
Q: Federal assistance has enabled the state to make important advances toward improving its budget. What will you do to ensure these advances continue when the federal aid is gone?
A: Our state finances should be run the way smart, hardworking Illinoisans run their own budgets: spend wisely, pay our bills on time, and save for a rainy day. Investing in critical services that help families thrive like education, affordable child care, and public safety, will pay dividends to the state in the long-term.
Considering the state's history of mismanaged finances, budget shortfalls, and a budget stalemate that racked up millions in additional debt, I am proud of the progress we have made. We now make our full pension payments each year, and have grown our rainy day fund to more than $1 billion.
In 2021, we received our first credit rating upgrade in 20 years and have since been upgraded by all 3 ratings agencies -- a feat that is the result of responsible fiscal practices, not just federal COVID relief.
We can continue on the path of fiscal and social responsibility by spending within our means, paying our bills on time, and repairing the damage done by past administrations.
Q: To what extent are you happy or unhappy with the evidence-based model for education funding now in place in Illinois? How would you define "adequate" state funding for Illinois schools and what will you do to promote that?
A: As a former teacher and mom to three public school students, ensuring access to quality education is one of my top priorities. The evidence-based funding model is a first step in recognizing that school districts have varying needs and access to resources.
We will have "adequate" state funding when we have lightened the property tax burden on Illinois taxpayers. There is no doubt that a funding system that over-relies on property taxes is not fair to students and not fair to taxpayers or homeowners.
That's why we need to continue investing more into the formula to fund our local schools. Since taking office I have supported $700 million in new statewide education funding.
The evidence-based funding model has greatly benefited school districts in the 49th District and continues to change the educational lives of students across the state.
We must remain committed to fully funding the formula each year so as not to walk back the progress we have made toward educational parity and equity.
Q: Do you believe elections in Illinois are free and fair? What changes, if any, are needed regarding election security and voter access?
A: Protecting free and fair elections is the cornerstone to our Democracy. While other states take our country back in time in terms of access and ease of voting, here in Illinois, we're protecting the right of every eligible individual to vote. I served on the Democratic Women's Caucus Elections Working Group contributing to the nation-leading election policy that expanded vote by mail options that make it easier for every voter to cast their vote.
These expansions are especially needed to protect the right to vote for the elderly, disabled, working people, and those without access to reliable transportation. Looking forward, we need to work with county clerks and election authorities across the state to ensure we are investing in technology that will not only facilitate a seamless election process, but also keep our elections secure and protect voter data from outside threats.
Q: How well has Illinois responded to Supreme Court indications that it considers abortion, gay marriage and other social issues to be state, not federal, responsibilities? What if anything needs to be done in these areas and what would you do to make your vision come to pass?
A. Abortion is health care -- often life-changing and lifesaving health care. Led by an out of touch court, our country has taken a heartbreaking step backward and we fear that it will not end at reproductive choice. In Illinois we aren't just responding to these threats -- we are anticipating them and taking steps to protect Illinoisans from dangerous federal-level decisions.
Last spring, I filed and passed legislation that protects Illinois reproductive health professionals. In this post-Roe era, we must increase access to reproductive health care for ALL, and advance policies and funding that support providers and patients. These measures are key to allowing Illinois to be a safe haven for our residents and neighbors.
Illinois has enshrined reproductive choice in state law and legalized same-sex marriage. However, surrounding states are continuing to pass anti-woman, anti-choice, anti-family legislation. We must lead with our ideals and make sure we create an Illinois that is equitable for ALL.