Growing up, I worked on the family dairy farm in Aurora, Illinois. My family still owns and operates a family farm in Newman, along Route 36 in rural Douglas County. With the family in the dairy business for some seventy years, I have a special appreciation for our agricultural sector and our way of life down on the farm.
From corn and soy beans to dairy, livestock and poultry, the people of Illinois are proud of our agricultural heritage. The farm economy and the prosperity of our agricultural industries are a high priority for state government.
Our state agriculture department, in conjunction with national and international agricultural agencies, needs to be prepared to respond aggressively to any threat to the integrity of our crops, herds and flocks. I do not support federal plans to require the identification, data basing and tracking of our agricultural herds and flocks. I will fight for Illinois’ small farmer.
The State Department of Agriculture must change with the times, increasing its use of technology as it fulfills its statutory duties. Illinois farmers and the agricultural economy will have a friend in an Oberweis Administration.
Business & Jobs
To support increased economic activity and attract job-providing businesses to Illinois, we will roll back tax and fee increases enacted by Governors Blagojevich and Ryan. Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), which limit competitive bidding on all state and local government projects, were enacted by Governor Blagojevich by executive order, making most projects 12-20% more expensive than if competitively bid. Among my first executive orders will be the elimination of Project Labor Agreements, allowing more female and minority contractors to bid on projects instead of just the large Chicago and Springfield contractors.
An Oberweis Administration will promote a jobs economy by advancing next step legislation on tort reform, by promoting workers comp fraud reform and by repealing the inclusion of sexual orientation cause of action in employment law.
For my entire professional career, I have been focused on growing jobs and increasing return on investment. As a stock analyst, I invested in businesses that grew jobs and built success by managing their bottom lines and growing their companies. As a business owner, I have been blessed with great leadership teams and capable managers. Growing a successful business team takes integrity, hard work and common sense. It’s this kind of team of public servants which I will assemble to do the people’s business. Growing jobs and returning Illinois to a healthy jobs environment is job one.
According to Article 14 of the Illinois State Constitution, the question of whether or not to hold a Constitutional Convention will be put to the people of Illinois in the General Election of November 2008.
It is my intention as Governor to lead the drive for a Constitutional Convention which will allow Illinois to take some long-needed steps towards reform. Our Constitutional Convention needs to establish a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, requiring a 2/3 majority vote to raise taxes and an automatic return to taxpayers of future tax surpluses. Our Constitutional Convention should allow us to change our state pension program from a guaranteed benefit program to a defined contribution program. Finally, we need a Constitutional Convention to eliminate the anti-religious bias of our Blaine Amendment; school choice and the ability of parents to use vouchers at the schools of their choice should not be blocked by religious bigotry.
As a young man working on the family farm, I learned that honesty and integrity are the cornerstones of our Midwestern work ethic. For too long now, our public servants at the highest level have violated these virtues.
As Governor, I will not accept campaign contributions from companies doing business with the State of Illinois. We will end this cycle of corruption where contributions go from companies to politicians and back to companies in the form of lucrative state contracts. As Governor, I will encourage state and local government employees to come forward and help us eliminate corrupt practices.
As a deterrent to crime and a just punishment for heinous, violent offenders, the death penalty will be reactivated in an Oberweis Administration.
The safeguards and guarantees which have improved due process and our greater reliance on DNA evidence give me confidence in our judiciary and our citizen juries to get it right.
Education – K-12
We spend over $20 billion dollars annually on public education from kindergarten through high school. We spend enough money. It’s time to demand accountability and results.
I support the 65% Initiative, to require that 65% of school spending occur in the classroom on teachers, aides, books and kids.
I believe we need to provide for school choice scholarships to allow parents to choose the schools where their children are educated. Parents and children must be free from failing schools.
I believe that successful teachers should receive rewards based on results. We need to change the teacher compensation system so that our best teachers earn more.
With school choice, we can eliminate tenure for K-12 teachers. Principals will have to perform or risk the loss of their jobs as well. Principals will seek the best teachers they can find, because parents and market forces will reward performance.
Education – University and Community College
In Illinois, we have one of the finest higher education systems in the world. From the private endeavors of the University of Chicago and Northwestern to the public achievements of the University of Illinois and its regional siblings, our universities are only as good as our will to see them excel. We will bring a Twenty-First Century Renaissance to our universities by investing in our best and encouraging our students.
Just as smaller, private colleges make Illinois a richer place to grow and learn, our community and junior colleges play a growing role in helping Illinoisans to advance in their education and their life skills. An Oberweis Administration is committed to a thriving community college environment.
From one of the nation’s largest networks of nuclear generators to itsvast reserves of coal, Illinois can reclaim its title as the world’s premier energy supplier. Add hydro, natural gas and oil, and our ability to participate in a dynamic energy environment has great promise. The continued development of ethanol and bio-diesel provide an important energy market for our corn and soybean yields.
A healthy energy environment will be an important priority in an Oberweis Administration.
As Illinoisans, we live in a great cradle of nature. Our state Environmental Protection Agency will be encouraged in its enforcement of our anti-pollution laws. Our flora, fauna, aquaculture and air are precious to our ability to live and thrive, and the state will continue to hold their preservation as a high priority.
From the great Lake Michigan to the many creeks and rivers that flow to the mighty Mississippi, our water resources are to be managed for the benefit of our citizens, our commerce and our future generations.
An Oberweis Administration will be family friendly. Our state government should review every law and every proposal through the filter of considering the effect upon the families of Illinois. We should never pass laws that make it more difficult for a mother and a father to provide for their children. Helping families is helping Illinois.
Governor’s Private Sector Survey on Cost Control (An Illinois Grace Commission)
Work has already begun to assemble a Blue Ribbon Commission of citizen leaders from business, academia and communities throughout Illinois, to review and audit the operations of state government to achieve efficiencies and cost savings.
The effort is modeled on the success of the Grace Commission, an initiative by President Ronald Reagan which achieved over $400 billion in savings. We hope to save billions for the people of Illinois by reducing waste and duplication and by increasing efficiency.
Our hospitals and universities, our clinics and health care offices, our doctors and our nurses provide the highest quality health care in the world. As governor, I will do everything I can to promote healthy living, and to promote a more efficient distribution of quality health care services, especially for our poor and elderly.
I realize that state government has important responsibilities as a partner with federal and local government and with the medical and health care community. I will recruit the best and brightest health care professionals to meet the state’s statutory responsibilities across the board.
Jim is a 100% supporter of home schooling. Jim believes that parents should continue to have the right to choose the educational environment for their children.
Jim’s son-in-law, Josh Manion, a chess and internet genius, was a home schooler in Janesville, Wisconsin, where his mother Ruth Manion was a pioneer in the Wisconsin Home School Movement. Jim’s campaign manger is a veteran of home schooling and has taught United States Constitution and Government for Christian home school consortiums in DeKalb and Ogle Counties.
As the chief executive of the state, the Governor is responsible for many aspects of homeland security. Working with top professionals in the public and private sector, I plan to use every available resource to meet the Constitutional duties of protecting the citizens of Illinois from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
From the Illinois National Guard to the Illinois State Police, in cooperation with Federal and local government, I will work to keep our people safe from terrorism and attack. Thorough planning and preparation and adequate state funding for anti-terrorism, public safety and first responder equipment will be a first priority.
We must reduce the flow of illegal aliens if we are to achieve true security.
State government should not be in the business of rewarding individuals who break our immigration laws. Whether subsidizing in-state, college tuition rates for children of illegal aliens or accepting the illegal alien identification cards issued by foreign governments, the State of Illinois has taken too many steps in the wrong direction, embracing policies which reward individuals for breaking our laws. As governor, I would immediately reverse the executive order which grants taxpayer underwritten home loans at 3% down, 3% interest to illegal aliens. Sadly, our veterans pay higher rates than illegal aliens in this state.
Illegal immigrants place a tremendous burden on our Medicaid, education and corrections budgets. Illegal immigrants depress wage rates for unskilled labor where many legal immigrants and working class citizens compete for jobs. To ignore this problem is to violate the Constitutional oath to protect and defend our system of laws.
I will strive to enact next-step tort reform legislation, to ensure that employers, medical service providers, and citizens in their many endeavors are free from the scourge of frivolous lawsuits. In order to provide our citizens with ready access to necessary medical services, especially in the highly litigious neurological, gynecological and obstetric areas of practice, our physicians and hospitals need protection from pernicious trial lawyers pursuing a lawsuit lottery payout.
Next step tort reform includes tighter restrictions on venue shopping. As governor, I will encourage the best and brightest members of the bar to pursue public service in the judiciary.
I believe in the sanctity of innocent human life. In the words of our Declaration of Independence, government is instituted among its citizens to secure the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our state government should do everything in its power to protect the lives of the innocent and helpless, the unborn, the handicapped and the elderly.
While the U.S. Supreme Court’s ill-conceived decision in Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, state government is limited in its ability to promote life and protect the unborn. I strongly support the effort to hasten parental notification in Illinois, a wise first step that has been stalled by the federal courts and a state supreme court reluctant to author judicial bypass regulations required by the feds.
If a minor child requires parental consent to receive a tattoo or a piercing or to receive over the counter medicine in our schools, certainly a minor child should be required to receive parental consent to receive invasive surgical or medicinal treatments to abort her parents’ grandchild.
Under the State Constitution, many important services are provided by a variety of local government bodies. Whether township, city, village or town, these local governments play a vital role in the lives of Illinoisans and derive their authority and legitimacy from the citizens they tax and serve.
I consider the mayors, village presidents, supervisors, council members and trustees as integral parts of the policy partnerships undertaken by federal, state and local government. As in all we do in state government, I will be asking our management team to review and analyze the partnership with local governments with an eye towards increasing efficiency and solving problems.
Marriage is an institution given to us by the wisdom of the ages. Marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman. I support Constitutional protection of this time honored truth.
I believe it is right and fair that marriage receives Constitutional protection, because it is the pro-creative engine of humanity, naturally combining the mother and the father as partners in child rearing.
Medical Malpractice Reform
In Illinois, the practice of medicine has become a prohibitively expensive profession to maintain. Higher medical malpractice insurance premiums and a judicial system conducive to excessive litigation have lead to a shortage of neurosurgeons and obstetricians in too many areas of our state. I will pursue limits on venue shopping.
Methamphetamine Task Force
Methamphetamine is the latest in a series of destructive drug infestations we have suffered in America. I will continue to pursue the interdiction and prosecution of possession or trafficking in methamphetamines and all other illicit drugs. I believe it is of major importance that we do all we can to save our youth from the dire consequences of drug addiction all too apparent in previous generations. Drug treatment, counseling and job training will have a friend in an Oberweis Administration.
Illinois should remain a state where all motorcycle riders are free to choose to ride with or without a helmet.
Illinois should never raid the Motorcycle Safety Fund and should replenish those funds which have been misappropriated.
Illinois should reauthorize the ability of ATV and OHM riders to enjoy the Shawnee National Forest and expanded use of Illinois State Parks.
Parks and Natural Resources
I support the maintenance and improvement of the beautiful state park system which provides so much in the way of leisure, tourism and commerce for the people of Illinois.
I will review the Department of Natural Resources and ensure that it receives the tools it needs to meet its statutory mission and that its ranks are free from political pressures.
We must keep our promise to fully fund and pay our defined benefit pension obligations to current state pensioners. In the long term, state taxpayers will be unable to sustain such a high level defined benefit payment for all future state pensioners. These same realities have lead to bankruptcy and restructuring in American steel and airlines and may now do so in automobiles. Current state employees should be free to choose either their current benefit plan or among a variety defined contribution plans as an alternative to the current system. Future state employees should be directed to choose among this same variety of defined contribution plans.
State employees moving to a defined contribution plan will benefit from timely and regular contributions to the fund, portability and inheritability of assets. We can make a transition to defined contribution pension plans that maximize the ability of state employees to control their own retirement accounts.
Private Property Rights
During this recent campaign, there has been perhaps no more egregious development than the United States Supreme Court decision in Kehoe which allowed a local municipality to seize private properties for the sole and express purpose of transferring ownership of those properties to another entity which would generate a higher level of revenue to local government coffers. I will work with the legislature to ensure no such abuse of eminent domain occurs in Illinois.
While eminent domain is a legitimate power for important infrastructure like roads, it is a power which should be used in the most limited and necessary circumstances. The rights of private property owners will be an important consideration in an Oberweis Administration.
Property taxes are a tremendous burden to many home and business owners. Seniors on fixed incomes are increasingly faced with the potential loss of their homes as health care and property taxes compete for limited dollars.
I will oppose any and all attempts to add to the property tax burden. Implementing a school choice program should bring market place incentives to education, potentially relieving property tax burdens created by a bloated public K-12 education system.
State government should be supportive of efforts to assist the poor and the elderly to afford the medicines which they and their doctors determine are necessary for health and quality of life. Support for access to the market place as well as efficient coordination with the federal Food and Drug Administration to ensure timely implementation of generic availability.
Our prisons should be a model of professional management and safety. Ensuring the orderly incarceration and promoting the rehabilitation of inmates are important responsibilities requiring the highest level of professionalism among our Corrections Department employees. The safety of our prison employees will be our highest priority.
Public Land Use
Our sense of good stewardship requires that we use our lands wisely and with care. The public lands of Illinois should remain open for use by her people. I believe that the compatible use of those public lands by horse back riders, recreational snowmobilers, off road vehicle enthusiasts is a beneficial use that state government should support and encourage.
Road repair, maintenance and expansion are important duties of federal, state and local government, and an Oberweis Administration will make certain that state government is effectively engaged in meeting its road related responsibilities.
I will end the practice of sweeping motor fuel tax funds, intended for road repair and maintenance, into the general revenue fund of the state.
The state has a significant responsibility for participating in roadway and public transportation solutions that relieve traffic congestion and foster an efficient transportation network.
School Choice Task Force
Empowering parents to choose among a variety of public and private education alternatives is an idea whose time has come. Especially in schools which have a failing record, parents should be given education opportunity scholarships, to be spent in an educational setting of the parents’ choosing.
I believe that a school choice plan can be crafted that delivers a parent choice voucher, marginally increased per pupil in-classroom spending at public schools and modest reductions in property tax. That being said, I will assemble a School Choice Task Force to prepare recommendations based on the successful school choice outcomes in Milwaukee, Cleveland, Florida and elsewhere.
“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” I take these words of the Constitution to be as sacred and inviolate as the rest of that inspired document.
The problems of violence and crime in our state are made worse when we place unreasonable constraints on the ability of law abiding citizens to provide for their own safety and protection. I will sign and will support in the legislature reasonable self protection right to carry legislation, providing the same incentives for reduction in crime that have been adopted successfully throughout the nation.
I have taken the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge to not raise taxes. State government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, so an Oberweis Administration doesn’t want more of your hard earned, taxpayer dollars. If you pay more taxes in an Oberweis Administration, it will be because we have reinvigorated the economy, stimulated job growth and inspired private sector purchasing.
State government has to exercise greater wisdom in how it spends taxpayer money, so I look forward to the insights and conclusion provided by my Governor’s Private Sector Survey on Cost Control (see above). State government has a spending addiction, and you can help me lead the outside intervention.
Toll roads are an example of government paying for the construction and use of significant transportation infrastructure through what might be called user fees. Living in Sugar Grove and having offices in North Aurora and Lisle, nearby the Ronald Reagan Toll Way, I am very familiar with the successes and the excesses of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority.
As governor, I will appoint members to the Toll Highway Authority who will place the interests of bondholders and commuters ahead of political patronage and insider contracts. When the Toll Highway Authority is brought to a higher level of professionalism, we will have an opportunity to review its operations and its plans. I will pursue toll way reforms that move us closer to reducing cash tolls on the older portions of the Toll Way.
There are perhaps no greater tourist attractions in the Midwest than the great city of Chicago and the greater Springfield region, cradle to the Great Emancipator. For so many of our small and large businesses, tourism is their number one customer generator.
State government is an important partner in sustaining a robust tourism economy, especially as it relates to the condition of our state parks, beaches and wildlife reserves. As the state has a significant role to play in the operations of McCormick Place, our region’s most significant trade show and convention facility, and Navy Pier, the most popular tourist attraction in the state, I pledge my support and involvement in these tourism engines. I also support the reopening of Meigs Field.
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Chicago has always been a major hub for the transport of people and goods, and an Oberweis Administration will take a reinvigorated and professionalized review of our transportation needs.
Whether by air, rail, boat or road, Illinoisans depend on a sophisticated transportation network and state government has an important role to play in the maintenance of those transportation systems. As a pilot and a businessman with a significant familiarity with trucking issues, I understand the importance of maximizing our transportation efficiencies.
In the metropolitan areas of the state, I will work with public transportation experts to maximize the value state government brings to these increasingly vital components of our transportation network.
As a new generation of war veterans return to our state from Iraq and Afghanistan, I recommit the people of Illinois to supporting the honorable and fair treatment of every Illinois veteran. Whether in meeting the statutory responsibilities of the Veterans’ Assistance Commission or encouraging the federal Veterans Administration to do the right things by Illinois veterans, I pledge my full engagement on behalf of the men and women, old and young, who have answered our nation’s call.
Water – Illinois’ Rivers, Lakes, Streams and Aquifers
Many observers have predicted that water will be the topic of the next great resource battle in world and domestic policy. Providing Illinois with clean and safe water supplies is a legitimate area for state government to be involved. Working closely with the United States Army Corps of Engineers and local government, the state’s Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Pollution Control Board will be re-energized to help Illinoisans to keep good, clean weather flowing.