Daiber spells out plan to fix state’s finances

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Bob Daiber, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, speaks Wednesday at the Lee County Democratic Headquarters in Dixon. Daiber, one of nine Democratic candidates, said he can compete for the party's nomination by doing well outside of Chicago. He's the only downstate candidate in the field.

Michael Krabbenhoeft/mkrabbenhoeft@saukvalley.com

Caption

Bob Daiber, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, speaks Wednesday at the Lee County Democratic Headquarters in Dixon. Daiber, one of nine Democratic candidates, said he can compete for the party’s nomination by doing well outside of Chicago. He’s the only downstate candidate in the field.Bob Daiber, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, speaks Wednesday at the Lee County Democratic Headquarters in Dixon. Daiber, one of nine Democratic candidates, said he can compete for the party's nomination by doing well outside of Chicago. He's the only downstate candidate in the field.

Michael Krabbenhoeft/mkrabbenhoeft@saukvalley.com

Caption

Bob Daiber, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, speaks Wednesday at the Lee County Democratic Headquarters in Dixon. Daiber, one of nine Democratic candidates, said he can compete for the party’s nomination by doing well outside of Chicago. He’s the only downstate candidate in the field.

DIXON – In a crowded field of Democratic candidates for governor, Bob Daiber isn’t the most recognizable, but he says he’s the one with a plan.

Daiber, from the tiny village of Marine, an educator for 38 years, is regional superintendent of schools in Madison County. He was in town Wednesday to speak to a small group at the Lee County Democratic Headquarters. The Sauk Valley chapter of Action for a Better Tomorrow set up Daiber’s appearance.

Daiber is one of nine Democratic candidates competing in the March 20 primary. While he doesn’t have the war chest of J.B. Pritzker, or the name recognition of Chris Kennedy, Daiber is the only downstate candidate, and he thinks he can do well outside Chicago.

“People ask me how I can compete, and how I do that is with you,” Daiber said. “Illinois has a serious revenue problem, and I have a plan to fix it.”

If elected, Daiber said he would bond out the state’s debt and pay all of its bills, reducing the interest that is bleeding the state dry. Illinois has $14.5 billion in unpaid bills that is collecting about $10 million a day in interest.

The bonds would be paid with extra revenue Daiber said would be generated through his progressive income tax system.

“We would have an extra $2 billion to pay down the bonds and put more money into our schools and social services,” Daiber said.

Daiber’s proposed income tax plan would range from 1 to 6 percent. In this system, retirees would be taxed at the base, which would be about $250. Daiber said the middle class, between $50,000 and $150,000, wouldn’t see a tax increase. The heavy lifting would come in the 6 percent range, where taxpayers are making $250,000 or more.

“The middle class have been the tax mules, and they wouldn’t pay more, and people making less than $50,000 wouldn’t be paying as much as they do now,” Daiber said. “We have a lot of working poor who are making $35,000 and less, and after taxes they are trying to live on $26,000 a year.”

Daiber said getting rid of property tax exemptions will also help to level the taxation playing field, allowing everyone’s taxes to drop. He says the only alternative to a tax overhaul is an income tax hike to 8 percent by the time the next gubernatorial election rolls around.

Daiber admits that instituting a flat-tax system wouldn’t be easy. A referendum would have to be put on the ballot, and Daiber said he would do that in 2020. The opposition would be fierce, backed by money from the 6 percenters.

“If you think the Affordable Health Care Act brought a fight, wait until you see this,” Daiber said. “Serious money would go into stopping it.”

Health care is another cornerstone of Daiber’s platform. While much focus is put on insurance, he is most concerned about the availability of health services. He wants to see state money channeled to county health departments so more people can avoid costly emergency room trips.

Thinking outside the box, Daiber says university health services sites could also be expanded for broader uses.

Daiber has been president of the statewide regional superintendents, so he is well-versed in the school funding debate. Taxes are at the center of that issue as well.

“We must wean ourselves from our 19th century school funding system that is based on property taxes,” Daiber said.

Daiber said he had four schools in his region that couldn’t make their Sept. 15 payroll if the school funding bill hadn’t been put in place. He said there is no reason it should be done so late.

“As governor, no other appropriations bills would be signed until we had the education funding in place,” Daiber said. “Education appropriations would be done by March 31, so schools would have budget certainty before they had to let teachers go.”

Daiber is a friend of organized labor, stressing that state pensions are an investment from workers that the state has decimated with bad legislation. He opposes right-to-work laws and believes that labor advances gained by unions should be protected.

Daiber said Gov. Bruce Rauner’s biggest shortcoming is his inability to compromise, and that those who are highly skilled in human relations realize bad-mouthing others gets in the way of progress.

“I believe governing is an art, while Rauner thinks it’s a business,” Daiber said.

The local Action for a Better Tomorrow Sauk Valley chapter is a political advocacy group that formed after the November elections. The group strives to get more Democrats involved in the political process.

The group has brought in several Democratic candidates challenging GOP incumbents in the next election cycle, and participated in local events to engage party members.

“We’ll be marching in our 10th parade Sunday in Oregon, and we’ve passed out 6,000 flags with ABT information on them,” said Sarah Bingaman, chapter president. “We also plan to bring in more candidates and push our legislators on issues that concern us.”

Murri Briel, a Democratic candidate for U.S. representative in the 16th District, is scheduled to visit the Democratic headquarters at 77 S. Hennepin Ave. in Dixon Oct. 18. The Joliet community activist will be there for two sessions, at noon and 6:30 p.m.

The candidate

Bob Daiber

Race: Illinois governor

Hometown: Marine

Age: 60

Party: Democrat

Education: Bachelor’s degree in education from Eastern Illinois University

Profession: Regional superintendent of school in Madison County

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