Decision 2020: Mike Halpin, incumbent candidate, Illinois House of Representatives District 72
(KWQC) - Note: TV6 reached out to state and federal candidates with a list of questions aimed at helping voters make an informed decision in the 2020 General Election.
The questionnaires will be posted to our special election website, www.kwqc.com/decision2020.
TV6 does not endorse any candidates.
Name: Mike Halpin
What is the most important issue facing the state of Illinois, and how would you address it if elected?
The budgetary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is and will continue to be, the most important issue facing us in Illinois. In our veto session this fall, we will need to gauge the full impact and then make difficult decisions to balance the budget, utilizing all possible assistance from the Federal government, as well as responsibly cutting spending. Since I took office in 2017, the general assembly has passed three bi-partisan, balanced budgets, and the State had begun climbing back from the damage caused by former Governor Rauner’s refusal to help pass a budget for nearly three years. The current pandemic is a serious setback, but I believe in our people and our resilience, and am confident that we as a region and as a State will come out of this and continue our recent positive trend forward.
How do you rate the nation/state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic so far? What would you do differently, and why?
I will leave commentary on our nation’s response to others on the Federal level, but can speak with experience on how Illinois has responded. Governor Pritzker took swift action in early March to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on our state. As one of the first states affected, before we really knew what this infection could do, Illinois prioritized the health and safety of its people. Here in the Quad Cities, we benefited from this early action. The restrictions were inconvenient for all of us, and indeed harmful to some, but they were and are important to maintaining public health. While I did not agree with all of the Governor’s decisions, it is clear that the actions we took reduced the risk of infection throughout the state of Illinois.
What will you do or advocate to help those who are out of work and those who are in need of housing?
Although the response by the State of Illinois was, on the whole, positive, one area that needs significant improvement is our state’s unemployment system. The pandemic has harshly tested the way we deliver unemployment compensation, and the system has failed that test, leaving many Illinoisans without payment for weeks. One of my first tasks in the weeks leading up to the veto session will be to examine how we can improve the current system to process claims more quickly, and reduce the uncertainty of people who have been laid off from their jobs. I will also work with our Federal officials to expand unemployment benefits and to reinstate assistance such as the Paycheck Protection Program and Business Interruption Grants, to keep small businesses operating and employing people. Lastly, I will work to expand the existing mortgage and rental assistance program, so that more homeowners and tenants can benefit.
Recent Pew Research data shows 49% of voters expect to have difficulty casting a ballot for the November election. What is your reaction to this belief, and what needs to be done?
Not surprisingly, it becomes more difficult to vote when doing so in person can be a risk to a person’s help. That expectation is valid, which is why I supported efforts to expand absentee voting in Illinois. Everyone who had voted in the most recent elections in Illinois was mailed an application for absentee voting. For people concerned about voting in person, an absentee ballot allows you to cast your vote from home, and hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans have done for years. We’ve also expanded early voting, so that even if the polls are crowded on Election Day, you can avoid those crowds by voting early in person. Of course, voting in-person on Election Day is still an option, and people who wish to do so can, and should, vote that day as well.
There has been a renewed discussion, both locally, statewide, and nationally, about policing reform since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Do you think reforms are needed and, if so, what might those changes look like?
I am committed to working with local activists, our local law enforcement, and my colleagues across the state to enact reforms that will bring about fewer deaths and injuries at the hands of police, and that will restore trust in our law enforcement agencies. I strongly believe that the vast majority of our police officers are faithful servants to our community. However, the incidents we are continuing to see across the country are evidence that we are failing to protect our people. I support The Resolution, our local agenda for reform, and look forward to further discussions and legislative action on it.
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