For House 93 hopefuls, budget reins crucial

Democratic candidate Scott Stoll is campaigning to win Illinois’ 93rd District away from incumbent Norine Hammond, who wants to keep her seat so she can fight for the state to reduce its budget, push for ethics reform and ensure education is a priority.

“It’s important to concentrate on ethics reformation,” Hammond said. “Ethics reform has to be a priority in Springfield.”

With Illinois carrying $7 billion in debt, Hammond believes the way the state is handling its budget is awful.

“We’re one notch above junk,” Hammond said of the state’s credit rating.

Hammond, who first was elected in 2010, said representatives had the ability years ago to sit down and go through the budget.

“Four years ago we sat down and went through it line by line and, by the end of the day, we had a balanced budget,” she said.

But those days are gone, she said.

“There’s not enough time now” to study the proposed budget before a vote, Hammond said. “It’s not right.”

Hammond believes the state needs to cut its spending so its debt doesn’t continue to grow.

“As a General Assembly, we need to examine our priorities,” she said. “We have to sit down and prioritize.”

Hammond also advocates for making sure all levels of education are funded and able to help people to prosper.

Stoll, a Rushville alderman, wants affordable healthcare available to everyone, lower prescription drug costs, economic growth and, as a father, making sure all levels of education are properly funded.

“No one is taking away private insurance,” Stoll said, adding that he just wants health insurance to be available for all.

Working in the pharmaceutical industry, Stoll said he believes lobbyists pushing for healthcare are pushing for profit rather than the care itself.

“It’s hard for me to see patients need life-sustaining medications and not being able to get them,” he said. “We need lower-cost options for people and I think there’s a lot of room for improvement … healthcare is a huge part of everything.”

Since being elected alderman, Stoll created Rushville’s economic development program to help businesses keep their doors open and thrive in the local economy, an effort that has taken on heightened importance amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have a lot of smart, young people here and we want them to stay here,” Stoll said.

Understanding that farming is a large part of what Illinois offers, Stoll said smaller, “mom and pop” businesses are just as important.

“I know we’re built on agriculture, but we have our towns, too. We haven’t really seen much on Main Street,” he said, adding that he would like to push for more incubator programs for small businesses. “I want to provide support to start businesses or support businesses being able to hire.”

With Chicago being the state’s largest city, Stoll wants to make sure government’s focus remains balanced throughout the state, he said.

“We need to keep focus on downstate,” he said, explaining that he saw too many small businesses being denied COVID-19 relief money. “A majority of the stores got denied because they’re considered essential, but business is low and they still need to pay employees; they struggle quite a bit.”

via Jacksonville Journal-Courier

October 17, 2020 at 08:57AM