Illinois Governor Candidate (D) Daniel Biss on the issues

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Question 1. What was your very first job?
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The first thing I did that felt like a job was working as a TA for a math class during my sophomore year at Harvard University; however, technically, the first time I was paid for work was as a juggler in high school.

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Question 2. IF elected and IF you only got one thing accomplished in your tenure, what do you hope that is and how do you plan to make it happen?
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If I could only get one thing accomplished as governor, I would pass a progressive income tax. Our current tax structure is broken, asking more from middle-class families like mine instead of demanding that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share. That's why I've introduced and organized support for a constitutional amendment to allow for a progressive income tax, and when I'm governor, I will mobilize the grassroots base that got me elected to pass this policy.

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Question 3. Give a scenario outside of politics that sheds light on how you will be able to get things done in office.
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When I entered college, I noticed how math classes for incoming students exacerbated inequalities around class, gender, and race rather than leveling the playing field. There were classes for students who entered college with advanced training and classes to fill general education requirements—but nothing for students who lacked advanced classes at their high schools and wanted to get up to speed. I led the fight to create a course to fill this gap, and this course is still offered today.

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Question 4. What compromises are you willing to make to make sure a budget stalemate doesn't happen again?
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The budget stalemate was the worst our state has ever seen. For decades, governors of both parties have been able to pass budgets—but Bruce Rauner refused to make the necessary compromises. Unlike Rauner, I will enter the role with experience working with colleagues from both parties to pass needed reforms and, also unlike Rauner, I will be willing to compromise on a deal so long as it supports middle-class and working families.

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Question 5. How does the state make up the payments to social services/schools, etc. from the last budget stalemate?
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We must promptly make up payments to social services, schools, and other programs and services that missed payments and faced cuts. The budget crisis was absolutely devastating to communities across the state, especially those that have faced decades of disinvestment. To make up these payments and guarantee funding for years to come, I will pass a progressive income tax, tax financial transactions, and close the carried interest loophole.

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Question 6. How should the state continue to pay for the rising pension costs of public workers?
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We must fulfill our pension promises to public employees. Our pension crisis is a result of our state’s failure to reliably fund the system over decades, and the first step is to start making full payments every year. I will raise the revenue necessary to support payments by passing progressive revenue solutions and by exploring ways to improve efficiency and root out corruption without reducing payments, such as by consolidating our pension systems to improve oversight and investment returns.

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Question 7. Where do you stand on medical marijuana legalization? Recreational marijuana legalization?
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I support legalizing recreational and medical cannabis. I have co-sponsored legislation to legalize cannabis and voted to decriminalize recreational cannabis and legalize medical cannabis. I believe that existing policies unfairly target communities of color and unnecessarily burden taxpayers. By legalizing and taxing cannabis, and by exercising my commutation powers to remedy unjust sentencing, we can support Illinois families and raise the revenue we need to invest in our communities.

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Question 8. What kind of tax plan do you support and what yield would it have?
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I will rebuild our tax system to ensure corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share by passing a progressive income tax, taxing financial transactions, and closing the carried interest loophole. I will also overhaul our broken property tax system, which lets the wealthy and well-connected off the hook while leaving the rest of us to pay the price, by passing legislation I introduced to improve transparency and accountability.

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Question 9. Do you support term limits for legislators/governors?
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I support term limits for governors and for legislative leadership positions including the Senate President, Speaker of the House, and minority party leaders. I introduced legislation to impose legislative term limits when I first joined the House and I am still advocating for this policy today. These reforms would prevent the consolidation of power and encourage rank-and-file legislators to pursue leadership positions, which will amplify diverse voices and stimulate the flow of new ideas.

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Question 10. Tell us one thing on an issue you think the opposing party got right?
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Republicans are correct in pursuing redistricting reform and term limits for legislative leadership positions. Gerrymandering violates fundamental democratic principles by preventing competitive elections and inhibiting representation of diverse communities. Term limits for legislative leadership positions are crucial to bring new voices into political discussions and prevent the consolidation of power. I am willing to work with anyone in either party to advance these crucial reforms.

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Question 11. As the conversation continues nationally about school safety and gun control, what would you propose to make sure our schools are even safer for all students in Illinois?
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It is crucial that we make our schools safe for all students. I support legislation to require gun dealers to be licensed, restrict the number of guns that can be purchased within a set time span, and ban bump stocks, assault weapons, and expanded magazines. I also support legislation introduced by my running mate, State Representative Litesa Wallace, to fund trauma response protocols for our schools through a tax on ammunition sales.

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Question 12. Where do you plan to look first in curbing gun violence?
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We must combine common sense gun reforms with community investment. I was a cosponsor of the original Gun Dealer Licensing Act and support restricting the number of guns that can be purchased within a set time span and banning bump stocks, assault weapons, and expanded magazines. Additionally, I will address gun violence as a public health issue by funding violence prevention programs and intervention services and fighting for universal healthcare, including mental health treatment.