State Rep. Allen Skillicorn met with the Northwest Herald Editorial Board on Friday to discuss statewide issues ahead of the March 17 primary election, where he’ll face off against McHenry County Board member Carolyn Schofield.
Skillicorn, who represents Illinois’ 66th House District, said he has been a leader on pension reform, one of the state’s biggest financial challenges. He said his big three reforms – capping pensions at $137,000, adjusting the cost of living and raising the retirement age by a year – would require a constitutional amendment.
“These are modest reforms, but these are modest reforms that save the system and get us back into the black in a decade,” he said.
Although implementing a constitutional amendment on pensions would be difficult, Skillicorn said, there needs to be an opportunity to let people vote. He said the options for such an amendment are a ballot initiative or through the Legislature.
“If people don’t want it, then they’re going to have to deal with the fact that their property values are not going to ever recover,” Skillicorn said. “They’re going to have to deal with the fact that their property tax payments are going to be more than the mortgages, and those bills are not going to be stagnant.”
Illinois residents continue to pay the second-highest property taxes in the nation, and to change that, Skillicorn said, the wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented.
“Let’s do what Indiana did,” he said. “And what Indiana does is they cap property taxes for residential properties at 1%.”
In favor of preventing tax increases, Skillicorn said he is against the referendum regarding graduated income tax hikes in November.
“So many states that have moved that direction are trying to undo the graduated taxes,” he said. “The last state to adopt it was Connecticut. They’re trying to undo it right now. And if you look at Connecticut taxes, they are out of control, and it makes it easier to raise taxes on everybody.”
Since state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, passed legislation to allow voters to dissolve the county’s 17 townships via referendum, township consolidation has been a widely discussed issue in McHenry County. Skillicorn said people should be able to vote to consolidate townships. Although townships may be important for rural areas, he said, townships aren’t really needed in incorporated areas.
As for the statewide legalization of marijuana, Skillicorn said not only is it a personal freedom, but it also is good policy.
“Is it a good policy to lock people up in cages for smoking a plant? I don’t think so,” he said. “This isn’t a hard drug.”
Skillicorn defeated Schofield four years ago.
Carpentersville Trustee Jim Malone and McHenry County Board member Suzanne Ness of Crystal Lake are seeking the Democratic nomination in the March primary.