Dan McConchie, GOP candidate for Senate Dist. 26, says Rauner's pension reform efforts not enough
In his second State of the State address, Gov. Bruce Rauner tackled key financial issues affecting Illinois, calling for an end to the state’s seven-month-old budget stalemate, and urging passage of pension reform and property tax relief.
Dan McConchie, a Republican running for state senator in District 26, said the issue that affects people in his district the most is crushing property taxes.
“One of the big things that he talked about is trying to get property taxes relief," McConchie told the Lake County Gazette. "That is a huge issue in our area." One of the big issues that we face is the unfunded mandates that come down on local governmental bodies that dramatically drive up the cost of doing business, whether it be the way prevailing wages are determined, whether it be the unfunded mandates that are added ... or minimum staffing requirements, and so forth.”
Rauner’s call to action was simple: give local governments control of property taxes.
“In many cases, people are paying more in property taxes over the course of living in their home than the original purchase price,” Rauner said. “That is ridiculous. The government should not be making more off a home than its owner.”
Illinois must work harder to compete with other states for jobs, Rauner said. He also called for reform to the state’s workers’ compensation program, saying the cost of workers’ comp is “the biggest factor driving our job losses.”
Right now, the unemployment rate in Illinois sits at 6 percent compared with the 5.5 percent national average.
Rauner announced behind-the-scenes work has already been done with Senate President John Cullerton to prepare a bill that would alter pensions to save the state $1 billion.
McConchie said that’s a start, but he’s not sure it will go far enough.
“We’re going to have to have fundamental reform long term in our state,” McConchie said. “The governor has indicated a willingness to sit down and work off of that template. If they’re able to come up with something that’s going to be upheld by the courts, and really does begin to address the unfunded pension liability that we have, I think that’s great. I don’t think that it’ll be enough, though.”
McConchie also echoes Rauner’s call to action in terms of unions and merit pay, saying workers should get paid for what they do, not how long they’ve been there.
“The idea of just being paid time and grade with no reflection whatsoever on the quality of your work I think is a disservice to whoever is paying the bill in that case so I absolutely support merit pay whether it be in government work or private work,” McConchie said.
In terms of the gridlocked budget, Rauner took time out of his speech to ask for “mutual respect” from both sides of the aisle to get a budget passed.
“Our job in this capitol is to improve the lives of all the people of Illinois through more economic opportunity, better educational opportunity and more value for their hard-earned tax dollars," Rauner said. "To achieve a grand compromise, we must cast partisanship and ideology aside."
McConchie said he’s not sure the message resonated.
“The governor demonstrated a willingness to sit down and talk," he said. "You know, in watching the body language of (House Speaker) Mike Madigan and John Cullerton standing behind him, they didn’t seem all that excited about trying to come to a deal. I think that it’s vitally necessary that especially the speaker, who has reportedly said that he’s waiting to negotiate until the state runs out of money, needs to be willing to come to the table, as other people in the state have called on the leaders to.”
Rauner also pushed for term limits on elected officials and for redistricting reform, in addition to calling for less redundancy in layers of government, something McConchie is in favor of.
“You know, we have 50 percent more local government units in Illinois than Texas, which is a much larger and much more populous state," McConchie told the Lake County Gazette. "We have way too many units of government. We need to get rid of some of those and consolidate them."
Rauner announced sweeping changes in the public education system that he says would put more money into classrooms and hold schools accountable for their performance.
McConchie is facing fellow Republicans Casey Urlacher and Martin McLauchlin in the GOP primary. No Democrats have filed in this race.