Election 2012: Tom Morrison
Morrison is running against Richard Dudd for the 54th District State Representative seat.
State Representative, 54th District
Campaign contact information:
Age and Birthdate:
Family: Include as much info as you like (names, ages, number of children, etc.)
Education Include degree(s) and school(s):
Hillsdale College, history major/communication minor
Official name of your campaign committee:
Citizens for Tom Morrison
Previous Elected or Appointed Offices:
Township Human Needs Committee
Is there any additional experience you believe qualifies you for the position?
I ran my own successful small business for six years and taught fifth grade for six years. I've got a diverse background that helps me contribute to the legislative process in the IL General Assembly.
What would your priorities be if elected to this office?:
1.) Meaningful pension reform
2.) Roll back the state income tax increase
3.) Freeze property tax increases when property values stagnant
4.) Improve the business climate in IL by balancing the budget, creating stability, and further improving our worker's compensation and unemployment insurance systems.
4.) Enable parents and students to have greater flexibility in regards to school choice, especially when either the school or the particular student is failing.
5.) Uphold traditional family values.
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?
Thus far, the state's public union leaders have resisted the kind of meaningful changes that would be required to put our state back in fiscal shape. This action puts their own pensions at risk because the state cannot function when half or more of the entire budget ends up going just to pay retirees. A permanent income tax increase, a progressive income tax, and/or a tax on services all will fail to bring in the needed revenue to rescue the five state-run defined benefit plans. They will fail because we cannot force people or businesses to remain in the state of IL.
We do need to increase revenue, but we'll need to do it by making our state's business climate competitive once again. (See my priorities above) We need to promote a thriving economy that welcomes high, medium, and low level income earners to find investment and employment opportunities here in the Land of Lincoln.
Current public sector workers should have their pension benefit levels frozen to a specific date and then adjusted going forward in their career to a defined contribution model. Current retirees should have their COLA's frozen until the pension systems can catch up to a higher funding level. I strongly believe that the elected officials ought to take the first step and dramatically alter their own legislative pensions.
The following are drastic measures, but they may be required the longer we put off the necessary changes: the state's constitution may need to be amended and/or the state may need to get the federal government's approval to declare bankruptcy.
What are the most important issues facing your district and what would you do as a legislator to address them?
Increased property taxes are a major concern to us in the 54th district. We've seen our home and commercial property values decrease and our property taxes increase. All of the units of government that are on our tax bill need to be pared back, starting with the roughly 66% of property taxes that go to K-12 school districts and the community colleges. The state of Illinois can help relieve those districts financially by repealing unfunded mandates and removing the need for prevailing wage project labor agreements. We can require that employee health care and pension contributions be made fully by the employees who will be eventually receiving those benefits.
The other important issue is unemployment or under-employment. The large businesses grab headlines when they layoff employees, but there are scores of small and mid-sized businesses that are shrinking their payrolls without so much attention. Families in all income brackets are struggling to make ends meet when their prospects for work dry up due to Illinois' anemic economic environment. This can be reversed with better policy.
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?
Elected officials and government bureaucrats cannot see themselves as "entitled" to positions of power. I would urge the public to do a better job of scrutinizing the character of those who would run for public office. Elected officials need to be questioned more on how they act, not just what they say. They need to lead by example. State workers need to see that their elected officials are men and women of integrity, and that corruption will not be tolerated. State government is supposed to serve the people, not the other way around. A bloated and distant state government enables corruption because it can be hidden so easily. The public needs to demand a smaller state government--one that is transparent and easier to keep in check.
Education in Illinois is funded primarily through local property taxes. What changes, if any, would make to that funding system?
I would not make a major change to the funding system for schools. I do advocate for school dollars to be attached to students rather than the school districts. We would see better student outcomes if parents were empowered to keep some of their own money to decide what schools (regular, charter, parochial, homeschool, or homeschool co-op) are best for their own children.
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?
1.) Pension reform
2.) Continued reform of Medicaid
3.) Improving the state's business climate so that we're growing in population (and taxpayers), not shrinking.
4.) continued cuts in waste (out-dated or redundant agencies and programs) and fraud (particularly in the Medicaid system and social welfare systems)
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.
Since I first ran in 2009, my views have been pretty well-documented in public. I've talked to literally thousands of my district neighbors, and though we don't always entirely agree, I believe my views represent the sentiments of the majority of the district. I work very hard at being responsive to my constituents and in being a good listener. I've been very willing to take on the hard issues and face reality for what needs to change in Illinois.