Name: Glenn Farkas
Position sought: Illinois State Senate, 9th District
Campaign Contact Information
Age and Birthdate: 44, April 16, 1968
Family: Married, two children in Glenview Public Schools
Education: BBA in Finance & Marketing (University of Cincinnati - 1991)
Masters in Finance (DePaul University - 1998)
Occupation: Financial Advisor
Political Party: Republican
Is there any additional experience you believe qualifies you for the position?
I have been an employee in the private sector my entire career, and now an owner of my own small business for three plus years. I understand what it takes to compete and succeed in the global economy and why it is so important to limit the power and scope of the government in all of our lives. We live in the greatest country in the history of civilization, but we must continually fight for our liberties and freedoms if we wish to pass these gifts on to the next generation.
What would your priorities be if elected to office?
The main priority would be to save the state of Illinois from financial collapse. This would be accomplished by focusing the legislature's efforts on the following:
1) Restructuring the public pension system. Politicians (in collusion with Union leaders) have put the retirements of all public workers in serious jeopardy. Without a combination of benefit reductions, increased retirement ages, contribution increases and realistic COLAs, the system will not survive. Our elected leaders have proven they cannot manage pension risks for state employees or the taxpayers, so transitioning all new employees to Defined Contribution Plans (401ks, 403bs) will end the pension shell game and protect future generations from political malfeasance.
2) Reform Medicaid. Again, our elected leaders have proven they are incapable of managing such an important program. Illinois has rolled over billions of dollars of unpaid Medicaid bills into fiscal year 2012, yet they want to increase the size and scope of the program by jumping into Obamacare even earlier than what is required. Medicaid was designed to take care of the truly underprivileged and needy citizens of the state, but systematic expansion of the program by expanding eligibility requirements has put the whole program underwater. Without serious reform of both public pensions and Medicaid, both systems will collapse and ultimately leave little funds in the state treasury for any other state programs.
3) Embrace the Private Sector. This state cannot, and will not, survive if it does not become more business friendly. Wisconsin, Indiana and other midwestern states have taken positive steps to attract and retain businesses. Illinois will continue to bleed businesses and talented individuals if the cost of living and doing business here is excessive when compared to other alternatives. Illinois has many advantages over its neighboring states, but we cannot expect to keep our best and brightest if our policies are not in line with economic realities.
Official Name of Your Campaign Committee: Friends of Farkas
What are the most important issues facing your district and what would you do as a legislator to address them?
I believe the most important issue in my district, like the rest of the United States, is economic progress. Too many people are out of work, which reduces consumption and ultimately leads to lower tax receipts for the state and local governments. The recession has caused a severe drop in real estate values, yet our local governments continue to raise property taxes on our citizens. Poor economic opportunities, combined with public sector pay/pensions and rampant corruption in government has brought all to a boiling point. Increased taxes, borrowing and spending is not a solution, so tough decisions by competent leaders will have to prevail. As a legislator, I will work to balance the budget with the resources we have and force government to live within its means.
Illinois’ state government has a terrible reputation in terms of corruption. What would you do to change the culture of state government that has seen recent governors from both political parties convicted of felonies?
A good start would be to vote out all incumbents (Republican or Democrat) from office. The team that has been assembled has failed miserably, so it is way past the time to replace them. The Democrats have controlled both the Senate and House, as well as the Governor's mansion since 2003, yet the state has gotten progressively worse. Why do voters continue to send the same politicians back to Springfield? The next step would be to reduce pay and benefits for all politicians 10-20%, as well as eliminating their pension plan. They have part-time jobs, yet they are paid like full-time employees. If possible, I would also like to revoke the non-tax status of political campaign funds and levy a tax against all of their campaign contributions. After all, the politicians are the primary reason we are in this precarious position. Why should they not pay the heaviest price?
Education in Illinois is funded primarily through local property taxes. What changes, if any, would make to that funding system?
I believe the property tax system is one of the most destructive taxes for citizens. It's too subjective and has little basis in reality. Why do we allow the government to place a tax (and an ever-increasing one at that) on the value of our most prized asset? When our stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc go up in value, we are not taxed on them until they are SOLD (realized capital gain). Allowing the government to extract ever-increasing taxes from our homes based on its theoretical current value is a disaster. How many of us saw our homes drop in value by 15-20% over the last few years, yet our taxes increase by the same amount? Our homes cannot be treated like ATMs, available for withdrawals at the whim of local government. I would propose a property tax system that treats all property owners fairly by levying a flat tax rate based on the size of their parcel and hold that rate steady for a minimum of 5 years. This method is truly objective, and lot sizes rarely change. We could also eliminate tax assessors immediately and save the state millions in salary, benefits and other costs. Additional school funding should be acquired through the administration of school fees by the users of the public school system (families with children in the public schools). We can no longer afford to continue with the current tax method in place, and a serious discussion on systematic reform is needed.
Illinois recently passed a significant increase in its income tax, yet the state continues to run a deficit. What specifically should be done to reduce the deficit?
First, a realization that the state must live within its means. Tax receipts to IL are around $30 billion annually - we must find a way to spend less than that amount. Growing the state GDP should be a top priority, and that will only happen when the state accepts that IL is not an island and must compete for businesses and talented individuals. Repealing the recent corporate tax increase (4.8% to 7% in 2011) would be a great start. Reducing business regulations, fees, etc would be step 2 and show businesses IL is serious about creating a top-tier business climate. If we don't try to grow the pie, we will never be able to meet the state's obligations. As mentioned earlier, reforming pensions and Medicaid is paramount. If we don't get those under control and bend the cost curve downward, we are really just kidding ourselves about balancing the budget.
Illinois’ unfunded pension liability is $83 billion. The state’s inability to address the issue recently led Moody’s to downgrade Illinois’ credit rating. What should be done to address the state’s rising pension obligations?
See answer in above question.
Why would you do a better job representing the district than your opponent?
My opponent, Daniel Biss, is heavily funded by Unions and the Democratic machine headed by Mike Madigan. If you are unhappy about the current state of affairs in IL, then a vote for my opponent is a vote for the corrupt Machine. I will be a citizen legislator, beholden to no one except constituents of my district and IL taxpayers.