The Sager Agenda
- Lower prescription drug prices
- Overhaul state ethics laws to restore trust in government.
- Prioritize education funding as the State’s top priority.
- Push for clean energy to create jobs and reduce climate change.
- Demand greater access to health care, especially mental health and addiction services.
- Provide affordable Medicare and Medicaid for seniors and families.
- Protect a woman’s right to personal choice.
Ethics in Government
Unfortunately, and too often today, a few elected officials at local, state and federal levels have been identified as engaging in unethical, immoral and alleged criminal behavior and activity. The results are devastating to our representative form of government as such activities can 1) divert capital resources of the people to personal coffers; 2) interfere with and disrupt due process; 3) provide undue and inappropriate influence in democratic decision-making; 4) promulgate an environment of harassment; 5) create a sense of distrust across all elected officials at all levels of government; and 6) discourage honest, well-meaning, highly motivated individuals to run for public office for fear of the aspersions that might be cast upon themselves, their families and/or businesses.
As a state, we must take aggressive action to halt such activity and promote ethics in government by enacting a revolving door policy that would prohibit retiring Legislators from becoming lobbyists immediately upon leaving office; place the General Assembly, its officers and agencies under the Office of the Attorney General for ethics oversight and review, rather than under a self-policing Legislative Ethics Commission; and have mandatory face-to-face training and follow-up sessions for all Legislators and staff conducted by the Office of the Executive Inspector General. I would strongly support all of these changes.
Financial Situation in Illinois
Illinois continues to struggle financially, with a backlog of unpaid bills that tops $6 billion. In order for the state to pay its bills, meet its pension obligations and fund core services such as higher education, we need to look at a couple of things.
We should reconsider the State Prompt Payment Act which has the best of intentions, but the financial impact is adding significantly to our debt obligations and should be reviewed. We should also consider taxing pensions on wealthy individuals using the same structure as the proposed graduated income tax.
I support the graduated income tax as it taxes those earning lower incomes at appropriately lower rates and those earning higher incomes at appropriately higher rates. Further, it does so on a marginal basis. We know as individuals and households that to improve a financially challenged condition, there are three and only three choices…increase revenues, reduce expenses or a combination of the two. The fact is you can’t cut your way out of a financial crisis, but you can’t work yourself into oblivion and efficiencies will take you only so far. So it must be a planned, manageable combination. None of us like paying taxes, but if we continue to call upon increasing levels of services, with those services regularly increasing in price, we have to pay for them. Obviously, we must work consistently to be efficient, fiscally responsible and sound in our expenditures and work to cut them when and where we can, but again, we can’t cut our way out of this crisis. We must increase revenues while simultaneously and responsibly controlling spending and cutting where appropriate. The income tax is a stable, foundational, primary source of state revenue and it should be applied fairly.
Illinois needs to help stabilize funding for K-12 public schools by continuing efforts to increase the State’s ability to more closely meet its funding obligations. Doing so would reduce school districts’ extremely heavy reliance on local property taxes, remove annual funding uncertainties, and allow investment in teachers, support staff, teaching equipment/materials and the teaching-learning environment.
Women’s Reproductive Rights
I support efforts to uphold and protect a woman’s right to determine sexual and reproductive health choices based on personal conviction, values and faith and believe it is inappropriate for government to attempt to dictate or legislate morality. Doing so is, in and of itself, contrary to the democratic precept of freedom.
We have been working hard in the City of Woodstock address rising property taxes. We have not increased the municipal portion of the local property tax bill by the allowable PTELL level for the past 8 years. Additionally, we reduced the municipal portion of the property tax bill by 10% in 2017. This was accomplished by rebalancing the revenue stream. We imposed a 1% sales tax and have just approved a 3 cent per gallon motor fuel tax to generate the revenue necessary to cover the reduction in property taxes and the increasing costs of roadway improvements. It is a matter of balance. As a legislator, I believe we need to further review and refine the State Education Funding Formula to reduce reliance on local property taxes to fund education and simultaneously ensure quality education for all students and all districts, including pre-K.
Graduated Income Tax
I support the graduated income tax as it taxes those earning lower incomes at appropriately lower rates and those earning higher incomes at appropriately higher rates. We know as individuals and households that to improve a financially challenged condition, there are three and only three choices… increase revenues, reduce expenses or a combination of the two. It must be a planned, manageable combination. None of us like paying taxes, but if we continue to call upon increasing levels of services, with those services regularly increasing in price, we have to pay for them.
Obviously, we must work consistently to be efficient, fiscally responsible and sound in our expenditures and work to cut them when and where we can. We must increase revenues while simultaneously and responsibly controlling spending and cutting where appropriate. The income tax is a stable, foundational, primary source of state revenue and it should be applied fairly.
Economic Development and Job Creation
I believe we can work toward improving job growth across the state. If we invest in infrastructure growth and development, it not only creates immediate jobs, but creates opportunities, along smart development, for new businesses and economic development. We must also invest in fiber optic expansion and new energy technology throughout the state.
We have worked hard in Woodstock to be an open, inviting and engaging community recognizing the true richness of the City’s fabric comes from its diversity and culture. During my tenure as Mayor, we have established an active Cultural and Social Awareness Commission; dedicated ourselves to two Sister City Programs in the State of Zacatecas, Mexico; organized an Hispanic Connections business organization; established a Homeless Task Force to increase understanding and awareness of the homeless resulting in the creation of the “Heart of the Homeless” article series, a temporary homeless assistance center and now, after nearly five years of hard work, a permanent homeless shelter, the first in McHenry County; and in 2019, we hosted what will be the first of many future Pride Parades. We have also welcomed with open hearts the Blue Lotus Buddhist Temple on the Square.