Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Better than Monday Night Football: 27th Sen. Dist. Debate

Jeff Berkowitz: Your gubernatorial candidate, Matt Murphy, has a plan for education and a budget that includes a freeze on property taxes for two years. Do you agree with Treasurer and Republican gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka?

Matt Murphy: The concern I have with either the Governor’s proposal or Judy’s proposal with regard to freezing property taxes—this is all a movement towards taking local control of education dollars away from us in the long run and making the state the primary funding source for education. In our area, we have been able to continue to provide quality education throughout the last four years while the Democrats in Springfield have cut our state funding—because the vast majority of the money we use to educate our kids never left our area and I am very concerned about exposing the education in our area to political winds in Springfield, so anything that leads us towards that direction, I am extremely skeptical of.

Jeff Berkowitz: Peter Gutzmer, what do you say to that?

Peter Gutzmer: Like I said, I’m undecided right now [as to a tax swap: an increase in the income tax, a decrease in the real estate property tax and a net increase in taxes]. I know that local property taxpayers would certainly benefit: homeowners, business—commercial and industrial property owners-- would certainly benefit. Secondary higher education would certainly benefit. The question of local control is-- does the bill as sponsored currently allow for that local control and that local flexibility? From my understanding, I do believe that it does provide local control. Basically, if the Attorney General or the Illinois State Board of Education fails to act, the continuing appropriation in the bill as drafted allows school districts to demand their money.

Matt Murphy: Can I make a point, Jeff? I am surprised actually to hear my opponent today saying that he is not sure where he stands on the tax swap, Senate Bill 750, because in the past, on seeking the endorsement of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, he repeatedly indicated that he would support that.

Jeff Berkowitz: Let’ see what he has to say about that now. What do you say, Peter?

Peter Gutzmer: Yes, I would support it.

Jeff Berkowitz: So, you said you would support it but you are still undecided?

Peter Gutzmer: I am still undecided.

Jeff Berkowitz: What does that mean?

Peter Gutzmer: I want to see somebody run the numbers and see what the direct dollar for dollar benefit is for property taxpayers in this District. How much benefit are they going to see in a local reduction of their local property taxes?

Jeff Berkowitz: But, you told the IFT that you would support it [the Senate Bill 755 Tax Swap]? Or, was it a contingent support?

Peter Gutzmer: Well, it was contingent support—that didn’t leave any question. It was either yes or no. So, I don’t think I would tie my hands or any elected official’s hands and say they shouldn’t consider anything.

Jeff Berkowitz: Talking about tying your hands—while we’re on taxes, or that general issue, your opponent has taken a pledge not to raise the income tax, not to raise the sales tax. Would you take a similar pledge, or not?

Peter Gutzmer: No, I don’t think I would take that similar pledge.

Jeff Berkowitz: Because?

Peter Gutzmer: I think I’d like to see what alternatives are out there for Senate Bill 750. The income tax increase that is contained within it for both the personal and the corporate side may be changed based on changes in the sales tax structure, a variety of other things, as well. So, to say I would be signing off on a commitment of no new taxes I think really ties government’s hands….
From this week’s [Sep. 25] suburban edition of Public Affairs with
27th Senate District candidates
Matt Murphy [R-Palatine] and Peter Gutzmer [D-Hoffman Estates]. See here for a detailed suburban airing schedule for “Public Affairs.”
Issues discussed on this week's suburban edition of "Public Affairs," include: Ending Pay to Play; Ryan's and Blagojevich's impact on various state and local elections; An elected Auditor General; Tax Swaps; Funding and Local Control of Education; In State Tuition and Drivers Licenses for illegal immigrants; All Kids and Private Sector Provided Health Insurance; Taxes, Jobs and the Illinois Economy; Assault Weapon Ban; Abortion.

The program, recorded on September 17, 2006 will also air though-out the City of Chicago next Monday night, Oct. 2 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV] and can be viewed anytime on your computer [Watch here].