Rep. Reginald “Reggie” Phillips: Raising taxes won’t jumpstart the economy
State Rep. Reginald “Reggie” Phillips, who hopes to hold on to his District 110 seat this election season, says Medicaid, pension, workers’ compensation and tort reform all need a complete overhaul before any talk of a tax increase should begin.
The incumbent revealed his stance in a Chicago Tribune questionnaire.
“We need to aggressively look at ways to reduce Medicaid costs and make sure the people who truly need these benefits are the ones actually receiving them,” Phillips said. “We also have to find a real, workable solution to bring down the state's pension liability. Pension costs are making it difficult for the state to meet other budget priorities. Pension reform has to be one of the top priorities for the current legislative session. When it comes to tax increases, I think we need to bring structural reforms such as workers' compensation reform and lawsuit reform before we even talk about a tax increase.”
Phillips added that Illinois needs to focus on getting the economy moving again and raising taxes without implementing any business reforms is not the way to jumpstart the economy, he said.
“Illinois desperately needs these structural reforms to make Illinois an attractive destination for the jobs and opportunities our state needs,” Phillips said. “Just raising taxes without cutting spending and without implementing much-needed business reforms is not going to solve the state's financial problems. Pat Quinn's tax increase in 2011 proved that.”
Although Phillips would like to see pension reform, he believes the state should honor the promises it made to state workers.
“I have run a successful business for many years and I have many loyal employees,” Phillips said. “I would not be in business if I refused to honor my commitments. Career politicians have definitely made promises to state workers that are virtually impossible to keep; but as much as I disagree with the process and the policies that created the pension problems in the first place, I think it is wrong for the state to walk away from its commitments.”
The pension crisis has sparked a legal debate over whether the General Assembly can cut the pension benefits promised to current employees without violating the Illinois constitution’s pension clause.
The pension clause states that: “Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.”
Phillips believes the likelihood of a constitutional amendment eliminating the pension clause being passed is “slim to none,” and the state is better off spending its energy on more realistic solutions, he said.
When it comes to key strengths and weaknesses of Chicago and Illinois political leadership, Phillips said House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton need to retire.
“I think both Michael Madigan and John Cullerton have been in Springfield too long,” Phillips said. “They have become career politicians and as a result their primary concern is keeping their positions of power. We need term limits to weed out career politicians, and Gov. Rauner, to his credit, is consistently fighting for term limits.”
Phillips said while he supports the governor on many of his policies, he promises to always be an independent voice for his district.
“I have been vocal in my disagreement with the governor on the closure of the Hardin County Work Camp," he said. "I think the camp should stay open. So, yes there have been times when I have disagreed with leaders in my own party. I am not afraid to voice those differences and stand up for what I believe is right."
Phillips became a politician because he wants nothing more than to see Illinois thriving again so his grandchildren can have a bright future.
“I am tired of seeing people leave our state," he said. "I am tired of career politicians acting in their own self-interest ahead of the needs of the people of this state. I want Illinois to be a destination state for jobs and opportunities. I want Illinois to be the model struggling states look up to as an example of how to overcome difficult fiscal challenges. We can turn Illinois around but we have to stop the business as usual policies that are dragging our state down."
The Chicago Tribune editorial board endorsed Phillips over his Republican opponent Jonathan Kaye of Toledo.