Kenneth “Kenny" Williams
District running for: 29th Representative
Political party: Democrat
Political/civic background: Independent
Occupation: Business Owner
Education: Trade/ Vocational School Degree
Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board questionnaire responses
Taxes/Budget: 1, 4 and there should more options on the table.
Q. Illinois has a massive state debt and crushing pension debt. Many elected officials from the governor to state lawmakers have indicated there is a need for additional revenue to help balance the budget. If Illinois needs to generate additional revenue, which options would you support in a budget package:
1. Increase the state’s income tax on individuals or corporations, either temporarily or permanently.
2. Expand the sales tax to services.
3. Tax retirement income in excess of $50,000.
4. Adopt a progressive income tax.
If you oppose all tax hikes, please provide specifics on how you would reduce state spending by $7 billion to balance the state budget.
Q) Do you support another legislative attempt at pension reform? If so, which proposed changes in the pension system would you support that you believe would pass constitutional muster?
A) I support legislation that will help the State of Illinois and its people. I will not speak on what changes if any should be done until I am elected and have a chance to engage with other leaders who sponsor or co-sponsor legislation for change or otherwise.
Q) Do you support a budget template developed by a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators that would allow members to pass a budget without the consent of the legislative leaders?
A) yes, as long as it doesn’t affect how other bills are introduced or voted on.
Q) What, if anything, should we do to change how we fund schools?
A) look at other states with similar populations and see if they have something we could model.
Q) Do you favor the state picking up the pension costs for Chicago teachers, as the state does for teachers outside Chicago? Do you favor school districts outside Chicago picking up their own pension costs, as Chicago does now?
A) That issue is touchy because Chicago has its own position on funding its pension and the other School Districts have theirs. I would push for the State introducing legislation that all Districts follow one formula.
Q) State support for public higher education has declined for two decades. Do you favor the status quo or a significant increase in state funding? What is your plan to restore Illinois’ leadership in public higher education?
A) This has to be reviewed, because the some State Schools are favored over other based on a lot of ?
Q) Illinois has a tremendous backlog of infrastructure needs: roads, bridges, waterways, transit. What would be a good way to pay for it? Do you support an increased gas tax — and/or other taxes and fees — to finance infrastructure improvements, including public transit?
A) I support increases as long as the State and People are able to sustain it.
Q) Illinois’ public transportation formula provides money for operating costs, but not capital costs. Should Illinois create a reliable funding stream for capital costs?
Q) Illinois has long been a strong manufacturing state. Today, Illinois employs fewer than 600,000 manufacturing workers and manufacturing’s share of the Gross State Product has dropped to 12.4 percent. Our state saw the loss of nearly 10,000 manufacturing jobs in 2015 and announcements from some high-profile companies of job losses. The average manufacturing job pays more than $70,000 and helps create a strong middle class. Name the top three things that you would do to help attract and retain manufacturing jobs in Illinois.
A) I will always look for other States that have a successful (program) retention method and see if it would be wise on our part to apply or do something similar.
Q) Illinois has a very diverse energy portfolio and is a net exporter of energy in a deregulated marketplace. Energy is poised to be major issue in 2016 because of federal regulations and possible changes in Illinois’ energy portfolio. Nuclear energy emits zero carbon emissions at a time when the new federal rule requires Illinois to reduce carbon emissions by 44 percent. Do you support or oppose legislation backed by Exelon to create a low-carbon portfolio standard?
Q) Illinois’ current Renewable Portfolio Standard calls for Illinois to procure a certain percentage of renewable power by the year 2020. The state is only halfway to its goal, and there is a proposal to increase the required amount of renewable energy and extending the time period to meet that goal. Do you support or oppose increasing Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard even if the cost of power increases slightly? Do you support or oppose the Illinois Clean Jobs bill?
A) I am open for more discussion on both.
Q) Illinois has to reduce carbon emissions by 44 percent under the federal rule. Do you support creation of either a cap-and-trade program or a carbon tax to help mitigate carbon emissions in Illinois?
A) I would be open for discussion.
Q) Do you support tighter gun background check laws? Do you support limiting straw gun purchases?
A) only in the areas that have shown for it to be needed.
Q) Do you support or oppose state licensing for all firearms dealers?
A) support. We have to be licensed to own a business what make it any different?
Q) Do you support or oppose allowing families to petition the courts to temporarily remove guns from people in crisis?
Q) Do you support or oppose legislation to promote the transparency and preservation of police disciplinary records?
Q) Do you support the goal of reducing the Illinois adult prison population by 25% by 2025? Would you support sentencing reform such as reducing or eliminating prison terms for non-violent drug offenses? Would you support early release of aged and disabled prisoners predicated on an assessment of risk to public safety prior to release?
Q) Do you support automatic expungement and sealing of criminal records for all crimes after an appropriate period during which the former offender commits no crimes?
Q) Given that there are more empty beds than youth now in the juvenile prisons, do you support closing one or more juvenile prisons?
Q) What is your view on a proposal to end the placement of juveniles on the state’s sex offender registry based on assessment of their risk and likelihood to reoffend and/or benefit from treatment? For adult sex offenders, what is your view on delivery of rehabilitation therapy and limiting sex offender registry restrictions only to those men and women assessed to pose a danger to others?
A) I am open for more discussion.
Q) Do you support a form of merit selection of judges?
A) I support the election process.
Q) Do you support the pending constitutional amendment to create an independent commission to draw legislative districts?
A) I’m undecided. But I would like to see it taken from Elected official.
Q) What changes in workers’ compensation or tort reform do you favor?
A) not familiar with the changes.
Q) Do you support or oppose automatic voter registration?
A) once a person reaches a certain age they should automatically be registered as long as they are citizens.
Q) What sort of ethics and campaign-funding reforms does the state need?
Q) 2016 is going to be a big year in education, as both state and the City of Chicago wrestle with fundamental issues of funding and school policy. Who was the most important teacher in your life and why?
A) My Father and Mother. They gave me the opportunity to learn from them on how we can change anything if the people only could understand and participate.