Election 2012: Carol Sente
State Rep. Carol Sente is running against State Rep. Sid Mathias in the race for the 59th State House District.
Campaign contact information. Please include any or all of the following: website, email address, phone number, Facebook page, Twitter account, mailing address, etc.
Phone: (847) 231-2359
Facebook: Carol Sente
Mailing address: 103 Schelter Rd. #20, Lincolnshire, IL 60069
Family - Include as much info as you like (names, ages, number of children, etc.)
My parents immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe to seek a better life following the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and devastation of World War II. My mother lives near me in Vernon Hills. My sister, niece and nephew live in Glenview. My father recently passed away.
Education - Include degree(s) and school(s):
I have a business degree from Indiana University and have taken master’s degree coursework at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
VP, FGM Architects
Democratic State Representative 2009-current
Official name of your campaign committee (if you have one):
Friends of Carol Sente
Previous Elected or Appointed Offices:
Vernon Hills Park Board 2005-2009 (VP 2007-2009)
Is there any additional experience you believe qualifies you for the position? If your race is contested, how does this set you apart from other candidates?
As a former small business owner I know that rising, unpredictable taxes place a burden on employers struggling to maintain work during this difficult economy. It is clear that Illinois’ steady tax increases over recent years have kept several employers out of our state. We must roll back the recent corporate income tax increase and change the overall taxation level that employers face in Illinois. We also need to rein in property taxes that can rise unpredictably from year to year as local governments raise their levy. I will continue to pursue legislation to freeze tax levy increases until property values rebound so that property owners and businesses can better predict their annual budgets.
What would your priorities be if elected to this office?
My priorities would be Jobs, Reforming State Government & Pensions, and Cutting Taxes.
What are the most important issues facing your district and what would you do as a legislator to address them?
We need to reduce the tax burden on families. Taxes are too high for most families and businesses in the 59th district. We need to stop unfair property tax increases and roll back the income tax increase for working families and employers who are already struggling with the increased cost of groceries, gas and other expenses. I support a law that would allow the county to reject the additional sale tax that politicians in Springfield pushed onto us even after the county’s voters twice rejected a sales tax hike.
Job creation remains my top priority to improve the economy, end the recession and put people back to work. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and I am fighting to start a new program to allow unemployed individuals who are trying to start a new business to continue to collect unemployment benefits until they get off the ground. We need to do more to encourage job growth and the best way to do that is to help people turn their ideas into new jobs for themselves and others.
We also need to continue to reform state government and how tax dollars are spent. This includes reforms to cut gold-plated pensions and continuing to implement budget reforms to eliminate failed programs.
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?
After decades of mismanagement and underfunding the pension systems by previous General Assemblies, I initiated a new law to fully fund the required contributions to the pension systems in Fiscal Year 2012 and Fiscal Year 2013, before any state dollars could be spent on any other program. Mismanagement and the difficult recession have left Illinois in a funding crisis for programs, services and pensions. Something must be done to ensure the sustainability of the benefits that employees have earned, and state leaders, labor and residents understand this. Any changes must be made with organized labor and other stakeholders at the table, and must be fair to employees and taxpayers. In my first year in Springfield, I voted for Senate Bill 1946 in the 96th General Assembly in March of 2010 to reform the pension system and create a new, more affordable pension system for new public employees. While this law is expected to reduce our pension liability by billions of dollars, additional steps are needed to make sure the system remains stable and retirees who have contributed to and earned a pension receive what they have been promised. I want to continue working to reduce state spending so that we can continue to commit our full pension payment each year and make additional payments towards our debt with any revenues the state takes in beyond our expected revenue estimates.
The legislature has slowly begun to lead by example by eliminating free health care for retired legislators, but I wish that more of my colleagues would have joined me in voting to completely eliminate pensions and healthcare for future elected officials.
Local residents should not bear the cost of the huge unfunded pension liability, especially at a time while many continue to struggle to make ends meet. Local school districts should participate in pension reform negotiations so that a gradual and responsible cost shift can take place without adding to the financial burden taxpayers already face. Previous General Assemblies worked to stop end of career pension spiking and I think that additional reforms are needed so that more responsible salary and hiring decisions are made at the local level.
I stand ready to vote for reasonable pension reform that creates a fiscally sustainable solution, is constitutional, and respects the contributions participants have made. I am glad we are including the General Assembly pension in the reforms to demonstrate my commitment to accepting the same change. I think that legislative leaders need to schedule a session day without reimbursing lawmakers to come to Springfield to pass pension reforms before the election instead of kicking the can down the road and leaving voters in the dark on how their public officials stand. To end the gridlock, we need to put solutions ahead of politics, end the fear mongering and negotiate meaningful reforms.
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?
To begin to rebuild our economy and attract jobs, government must start by cleaning up our own house. I am outraged that Illinois’ culture of corruption and debt is driving businesses out of state and slowing job creation. I support legislation to impose mandatory jail time for serious government ethics violations and strips public pensions from officials who commit crimes while in office. Because so many people are struggling financially, I supported pay cuts for state legislators to assist in addressing our budget problems, even though it was unpopular among other lawmakers. I also helped pass a law ending free taxpayer-paid health care to retired legislators and judges who already receive generous taxpayer-funded pensions.
Illinois cannot move forward to ensure that important services are available and accessible for seniors, veterans and people living with disabilities until we start bringing new jobs to our area, change the way we budget, and end the culture of corruption in Springfield. I believe that being an open and accessible legislator is the best way to take positive steps towards changing the direction our state is heading and I maintain a full-time constituent service office in Lincolnshire so that people can contact me if they need assistance connecting with services or to identify gaps in coverage that need to be addressed in Springfield.
Education in Illinois is funded primarily through local property taxes. What changes, if any, would make to that funding system?
The state needs to pay its past due bills to local school districts so we can ensure students continue to receive a high quality education. When I went to Springfield, I passed a new law to require the state begin to pay down its debt and pass a balanced budget every year. I voted against the education budget this year because I felt that cuts went too deep into early childhood education. There are plenty of other areas of the budget that we could cut, including salaries for elected officials and the fleet of airplanes and cars, instead of crucial education services.
We need to continue to cut waste, fraud and duplication. Since we implemented my new Budgeting for Results law, the state has cut nearly $3 billion. We must continue to set realistic revenue expectations, pay our debt obligations first, pay our unpaid bills, and review the budget line-by-line in bipartisan committees. This method of budgeting will help us continue to reduce spending and make government more responsible and efficient so that increased funds will be available for education.
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?
Illinois does not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. When the recession began, instead of cutting back, lawmakers continued to increase spending and run a deficit. As a business owner, I have 17 years of experience balancing budgets and meeting a payroll. I initiated a more transparent, business-friendly method of budgeting in Illinois to help identify and cut waste and fraud. As I mentioned, Budgeting for Results has already reduced state spending by billions of dollars.
An important element of my bill is the performance measurement of programs. If programs are not producing their targeted results, they need to be cut or revamped. Another aspect of Budgeting for Results that needs to be implemented is the identification of clear goals of what the governor decides to fund and the healthy competition to provide for those services among the various state agencies. This will further produce savings.
We need to consolidate services. More thorough reviews of programs and services are needed to identify overlaps that can be streamlined or removed. This includes, I believe, eliminating the offices of Lt. Governor and combining the office of the Comptroller and Treasurer. Additionally, we need to reduce the pay for elected officials and eliminate perks for state officials and employees. We should cut the state’s vehicle and air fleet, reduce the number of state issued cell phones and eliminate pay for serving on state boards and commissions.
The only way to overcome our status as a deadbeat state is by paying our bills. Part of my Budgeting for Results measures require the state to make our full pension and debt payment each year to help us get out of debt without borrowing more. We need to pay our bills and limit our spending to the actual revenue projections for the year, and pay any additional revenue towards our debts.
Why would you do a better job representing the district than your opponent? If you are running unopposed, please just share why you are qualified for the position.
I am a former small business owner. As a business manager and marketing professional, I took over a small architectural firm and successfully ran and grew it for 27 years. I have experience putting people to work, making payroll and managing budgets. This is why I ran for State Representative, to use my skills in business to change the way politicians in Springfield have budgeted for decades. Instead of complaining about the problems in Springfield, I researched and drafted the Budgeting for Results laws that have been governing our state’s budgets for the past two years. These new policies have required the state to make its full pension and debt service payments for each of the past two years before considering other spending. Since we implemented Budgeting for Results, we have cut $3 billion in spending. I have repeatedly stood up to partisan leaders in Springfield to do what is best for my constituents and our state, like voting against the 67% income tax increase and the unbalanced budget they presented to me in my first term. I believe we need term limits for legislative leaders and I started a bipartisan caucus to reach across party lines and bring people from all walks of life together to put residents before politics. I represent the only district in the state with two incumbents running against each other this fall. Unlike my opponent, who is a career politician and who has not been able to change the system after nearly a quarter century in politics, I am not a career politician. I am not afraid to stand up to party leaders in Springfield to challenge and change the status quo, and I encourage voters to consider looking at our records instead of our party affiliations in making an endorsement in this race. When my constituents express their concerns to me, I turn their words into action. I will not give up fighting for them. I seek their support and yours so that others may have the courage to join me in working for the best interests of the residents of Illinois.