Full-time legislator, serving Kane, Kendall, LaSalle County, The residents of the Fox Valley
Married, Steve Hatcher
On the Record
Do you support a plan to shift responsibility for teacher pensions from the state to local school districts? What is your plan for pension reform?
Promises made by well-meaning senators and state representatives in good times have proven to be disastrous in today’s stark reality. This is the state’s responsibility and shifting costs locally would be a terrible double whammy to my tax-capped counties. We must craft a stable system that rights the state’s ship and still treats people with dignity. I have yet to see a long-term solution that addresses this completely, and continue to work locally to create additional legislation that responds in a balanced fashion. I’m extremely frustrated that the legislature has not been called to the Capitol to work on pensions this summer. There is no reason that pension issues could not be resolved before November 6; legislators should be thinking less about their reelection and more about the people of Illinois. We were sent to Springfield to find answers, not avoid tough decisions. I support a plan that addresses ALL the pension systems and does not just cherry-pick the easy ones.
Should part-time state legislators, state representatives and senators receive pensions? Explain.
Every single one of the state’s 118 representatives and 59 senators does their job in a different manner. I treat the position as full-time regardless of the legal definition. That’s my decision, and does not necessarily reflect how others do their job. I personally believe that this position was created by our founding fathers to be of limited service, not a lifetime legacy. With that philosophy in mind, I co-sponsored two pieces of legislation to change that benefit. The first, HB 3969, addresses double dipping. The bill presents outgoing and former state lawmakers from picking up a second pension from another governmental position unless the hiring agency agrees to pick up the entire cost. That became law this August. The second, HB 3973, amends the General Assembly pension code to end legislative pensions, effective immediately. That bill was filed in January, but has been buried in committee by Speaker Madigan.
What are your thoughts on the Medicaid reform package passed by the General Assembly in May?
I learned first-hand both as a volunteer and employee for Senior Services Associates what an important safety net Medicaid is for those most needing help. It exists to ensure the best quality of life possible for the frail and disabled. Without reform, that important program was on the edge of financial collapse, endangering the care for those truly in need and eligible for care. This year alone providers faced a payment delay of 300 days. Entering FY2013, the Illinois Medicaid program already had a $2.7 billion backlog. Without changes, in 4 years the state would be facing a $34 billion backlog in old unpaid bills, $21 billion of which would have been Medicaid bills. The reforms are meant to address unsustainable growth and match expenditures with revenues available to pay the bills. By implementing common-sense efforts such as using a private vendor to review elibibility, benefits can be directed to those truly eligible for assistance. An estimated 400,000 people now receiving benefits in Illinois do not even live in the state.
Do you think it’s appropriate for the General Assembly to vote on landmark legislation (such as the income tax or pension reform) after the fall election and in the last days of the assembly? Why or why not?
Elections are held on the first Tuesday in November. The winner of that election does not become a member of the General Assembly until they are officially inaugurated in mid-January of the following year. That leaves a window of about a week in early January when legislative voting rules revert to a simple majority and the outgoing legislator, a “lame duck”, has the opportunity to vote yes on controversial legislation and escape facing angry constituents because they’re already on the way out. The number of well-documented examples where legislators have switched votes, and then received lucrative jobs, is embarassing. This would be easy to resolve by simply extending the super majority rule (3/5 of the legislators) through January. Anything political in Springfield, however,is seldom easy. The lame duck tool is a favorite of the majority party, and is often used to make dramatic changes in the way Illinois does business. It’s wrong.
What kinds of gambling expansion or contraction do you support?
The industry should remain at its well-regulated present size. The 50th District is unique in Illinois in that it is the recipient of both jobs and community impact dollars from multiple gaming establishments. As a business leader I was able to watch the evolution of the industry in the Fox Valley from its very beginning. The original legislation was specifically designed to aid aging river towns regain economic vitality, and it has been successful. Expanding gaming statewide of simply adding one casino in Chicago would be disastrous to the Fox Valley economy. There are a finite number of people who enjoy gaming, and any new sites would simply dilute the existing clientele, spreading it among more venues and dropping the revenues of the older facilities. Less revenue translates to a smaller workforce. Any gaming expansion means my residents lose jobs.
Outside of jobs and taxes, what are the one or two top issues in your district, and what will you do in Springfield to address those issues?
Both the human and physical infrastructure needs attention. I believe communicating with those I serve is a priority, and I use multiple venues to do so. I send an electronic update, Hatcher’s Highlights, to constituents on a regular basis. I’m constantly meeting with individuals, organizations and other government leaders. I post my daily schedule on Facebook so everyone knows where I am and who I’m talking with. I’ll continue to do my best to generate an atmosphere of trust and take the politics out of an inherently political position. My Springfield focus is transportation. I’m already working with the Illinois Department of Transportation to secure additional funding for Route 47 improvements. I convinced the Tollway to schedule an extra Hearing for communiters that head into Chicago from my District and personally spoke on behalf of an interchange on Route 47. I partnered with IDOT at a community forum when businesses were suffering from a major intersection rebuild, resulting in signage changes and amended plans. Convening a meeting with Waubonsee Community College and IDOT planners within 24 hours after the highway death of a student initiated important safety changes. I have the Tollway, Metra and IDOT on speed-dial.
Grade Gov. Pat Quinn’s job performance. What has he done well? Where has he failed?
Governor Quinn entered the Governor’s mansion when his predecessor took another job making license plates. Elected for a full term thereafter, his general likability somewhat buffers his frustrating habit of treating issues like cooking spaghetti. He throws out an idea and then sees if it sticks to the wall. Both he and the legislature are dealing with turbulent times, and I would welcome leadership that crafts a long-term plan based on solid data. I applaud his decision to veto the gaming bill, and deeply appreciate his support of my veterans\\\\\\\' bill that protects grieving families from protesters at their loved one\\\\\\\'s funeral. I\\\\\\\'m appalled at his decision to call a special session this summer when the legislature was already in Springfield. His decision was nothing more than grandstanding and cost the people of Illinois about $40,000. I was one of only a handful of legislators who refused to accept the additional pay. Like most of the residents of the Fox Valley, I also profoundly disagree with his income tax hike last January.
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