76th District State Representative: Yednock, Breeden talk taxes, COVID-19 response and Madigan

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State Rep. Lance Yednock, D-Ottawa, said he wants to return to Springfield for a second term to be a moderate voice for the 76th District.

His opponent Travis Breeden, a Utica Republican, said he’s running against Yednock because he’s sick of politicians ruining Illinois and raising taxes.

The two spoke with editors from The Times, NewsTribune and Bureau County Republican last week — Breeden on Sept. 15, Yednock on Sept. 18.

If re-elected, Yednock said he wants to grow the economy and bring manufacturing back, citing he does not always follow party lines and seeks to vote in favor with the majority of his district. A member of Operating Engineers Local 150, he is a firm supporter of union rights.

Breeden, who also is a union member with Teamsters Local 710, vowed to stand up against corruption, to lower taxes and to serve as an effective voice for voters, saying of the district "we all share the same values."

COVID-19 response

Yednock commended Gov. JB Pritzker’s leadership during the pandemic. He said not much was known about the virus in the beginning, and the goal was to flatten the curve and keep hospitals from being overrun.

With that said, however, Yednock would like to see more transparency moving forward and more legislators be a part of the decision-making process.

Yednock said his office would receive questions about one of the governor’s decisions and he would not always get a clear answer from the governor’s office to share with constituents.

Breeden was critical of the impact a hard lockdown, such as the one Illinois implemented early on during the pandemic, had on small businesses. He said he didn’t see how it was fair to shut down a small clothing store, for example, but allow a large store like Walmart to stay open and sell clothing.

"It was unfair what was going on," Breeden said.

On the subject of mask-wearing, Breeden said he believed it should be up to people to do what they want, noting social distancing and washing hands was important. Yednock said he supported mask-wearing and said it was the easiest way, short of a vaccine, to stop the spread of the virus.

On Gov. Pritzker’s performance

Breeden said he’d give Pritzker "a big F," and followed it up by saying he would have done the same for former Gov. Bruce Rauner. He was critical of the millions of dollars Pritzker was spending to support the Fair Tax Amendment, and said Pritzker’s administration has continued to spend with no real reform.

Yednock, on the other hand, commended Pritzker’s performance, specifically in Pritzker’s first year where he passed some bipartisan measures. Yednock pointed to the Blue Collar Jobs Act, incentives for data centers and reinstating the manufacturers purchase credit as some measures the governor worked with Republicans to pass. He said the governor has been inclusive, but noted the stress of the pandemic has made it more difficult to be bipartisan lately.

Should Speaker Madigan resign?

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan was implicated in a bribery scheme when ComEd officials entered a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office in which they admitted that, from 2011 through 2019, they awarded no-work jobs and lobbying contracts to close associates of Madigan in an effort to win his favor for legislation that benefited the company.

Madigan so far has not been charged with any crime and has staunchly denied any wrongdoing.

Yednock said he wants to wait to see how the investigation goes before he calls for any resignation.

"I’m not going to call for anybody’s removal unless they are convicted," Yednock said. "I will do that to a friend or political foe. I think due process still has to be the law of the land."

Breeden said it’s time for Madigan to step down and said Yednock won’t ask Madigan to step down because he is the head of his political party and holds the campaign purse strings.

Yednock said he wants to see lobbying, ethics and disclosure reform — in a real way, "no window dressing," he said.

"I think it’s more important we understand it’s bigger than one legislator," Yednock said. "We have governors, we have congressmen, we have legislators, municipal leaders from both sides of the aisle that have been implicated in things over the years, and I believe we have a systemic problem in this state."

Thoughts on the Fair Tax Amendment

Breeden said a graduated income tax would pick winners and losers, calling it unfair. He said those in a higher tax bracket already pay higher taxes and have the means to move out of the state, prompting more loss of revenue. And if that happens, he said the state will raise taxes on everyone else.

Yednock said the graduated income tax was a more fair way to tax income. He said 32 states and the federal government already use the same system. He said additional revenue could help the state fix a structural deficit. He said he is cautious, because he wants to make sure revenue generated from the fair tax will only go toward funding essential services or existing services, and that it not be used to fund any new programs the state can’t afford.

Fixing the budget

Along with implementing a graduated income tax, Yednock said he’d be in favor of an "A to Z scrubbing of government" to root out wasteful spending. He did warn, however, that Illinois discovered it left some agencies too hollow, such as the unemployment office, during the pandemic, and he warned it cannot do that either.

Breeden said he favored pension reform and said deregulating businesses could bring back more businesses to the state and generate new revenue.

On legalization of recreational marijuana

Breeden said people should be able to have the right and freedom to use marijuana, but he isn’t in favor of the state utilizing it as a tax-revenue source.

Yednock said the revenue has helped the state and generated jobs through grow operations and dispensaries. On the campaign trail two years ago, he said it was apparent from visiting people’s homes they were using marijuana already, and it would be better for the state to get the revenue, rather than drug cartels.

On Starved Rock fees

Both candidates support the possibility of an entrance fee at Starved Rock State Park to help pay for the maintenance of the park that receives 2 million visitors per year.

Yednock said he secured $10 million in the capital bill for Starved Rock, and he wants to see the money spent here. His fear with setting up a fee would be to see the money get lost and used on other parks. He said it would be a sticking point to any new legislation that the money be earmarked directly for Starved Rock.

On working with the other political party

For the three bills Yednock said he passed, he said he approached Republicans and talked to them about their concerns. He said if they didn’t support his bill, they didn’t "poison the well against me," because he approached them. Yednock also said he’s listened to Republicans on their bills and has voted against his caucus if he believes a good case was made, or one that would better help his district.

Breeden said Democrats have been set in their ways for way too long. He said if there are common-sense measures, he would work with the other side. He fears, however, that too many good bills are introduced by Republicans and aren’t called because Madigan disagrees with them.

Gun control measures

Breeden is against gun registration. He doesn’t believe in FOID cards or conceal carry licenses. He said other states have eliminated those registrations, and they don’t have the problems Illinois has. He said the biggest issue with gun violence in Illinois is that gun offenders need to be punished with longer jail sentences.

Yednock said, in general, he isn’t in favor of gun control laws. His constituents’ biggest concern is gun registration, something he said he heard when he hosted a town hall meeting in Streator on gun rights. He said he voted against gun control measures, because he didn’t see them leading to anything. He said those using FOID or conceal carry licenses are doing so legally, and they shouldn’t be punished with higher fees or more restrictions.

via | News Tribune

September 25, 2020 at 06:38AM

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