Illinois House of Representatives District 69 candidate Peter Janko answered Shaw Local’s election questionnaire for the Illinois House primary election.
Voting ends for the primary election on the evening of June 28.
Full Name: Peter Janko
What office are you seeking? State Representative in the 69th District
What offices, if any, have you previously held? None
Occupation: Retired (Formerly telecommunications product design engineer / historic lighting restoration)
Education: AAS Honors in Applied Science - Electronics
Campaign Website: pete4illinois.com
What are the top issues facing your district and what would you like to do to address those issues?
1) High Property Taxes
Illinois taxpayers pay the second highest property taxes in the country, nearly two-thirds of which goes to education. A typical property owner in Illinois will pay about $4,000 to $6,000 a year in property taxes.
We can reduce local property taxes by a combination of:
a) The State of Illinois increasing its share of school funding. It is more fair to taxpayers because collection of state revenue, at least, is based on the ability to pay whereas property taxes have nothing to do with a person’s ability to pay. As people age and find themselves living on a fixed incomes or become unemployed or underemployed, property tax bills stay the same or keep rising, often forcing people to sell their homes. High property taxes can also keep young families from buying their first home.
b) We can eliminate, through consolidation, hundreds of overlapping and duplicative districts with thousands of redundant administrators.
2) Municipal and Rural Broadband.
The 69th is divided into broadband haves and have nots. Because most of the population of the 69th resides in Huntley, Harvard, Marengo and parts of Rockford where almost every resident has access to reliable high speed internet, there is not a lot of political incentive to provide broadband to every residence in the 69th.
I believe we can get to a system that can do both provide an alternative to the costly cable companies for residents with cable as well as providing broadband to the “last house” in the rural parts of the 69th.
There are provisions in the Infrastructure Budget for expansion of broadband access in underserved areas of Illinois. The 69th District would be a good place to start.
If COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths rise again, what mitigations, if any, should the state pursue?
Now that it is widely believed that the worst may be behind us, but that we may have to learn to live with Covid, it is time to get back to some semblance of pre-Covid normal.
Until we get to herd immunity or Covid flames out, people should be encouraged to get vaccinated and also wear masks in close quarters regardless of vaccination status. Covid vaccinations, boosters, and Covid test kits (by USPS) should continue to be provided at no cost.
In the event that a new variation that causes hospitalizations and deaths to rise again, mask mandates and/or indoor occupancy restrictions may be necessary again but they should limited to just the immediate outbreak area and then only for as long as necessary as determined by the local health department.
In light of Michael Madigan’s indictment, what steps should the legislature take to address corruption and ethics concerns in the state?
Illinois is definitely moving forward on ethics reform but in my opinion, there is a lot of work left to do.
If I am elected, I will do what I can to help move the legislature in the right direction on ethics reform.
Regardless of what I may or may not be able to accomplish in Springfield, I will NOT become part of the problem.
I will institute a policy, for my office, that any interaction with lobbyists only be carried out only at open meetings or if not practical, recorded and the recordings made accessible by the public. It will certainly be tedious but at a time when no one really trusts our elected officials, I think little bit of transparency can help restore some trust in the people running our cities, counties, and state.
If there was one bill that you could get through the legislature next year, what would it be?
The recent budget calls for a temporary freeze on sales taxes on groceries. However, I believe in the permanent elimination of state and local sales tax on “essential foods” and prescription drugs.
Illinois is one of only 13 states that impose sales tax on groceries. Illinois is also the one and only state that taxes prescription drugs at the state level.
I believe that it is just plain wrong to tax a basic necessity of life, the need for proper nutrition.
We can divide groceries into two categories, essential and non essential.
Bread; milk; cheese; baby food and formula; and fresh meats, poultry, seafood, fruits, nuts, and vegetables would be considered essential.
Snacks, soft drinks, etc. would be considered nonessential and could continue to be taxed.
Sales tax on prescription drugs should also be completely eliminated.
If there was one recently passed law you could repeal, what would it be?
Nearly 300 new laws took effect in 2022.
I took the time to look at the summaries of all that I could find in the multiple news articles I read through. Short of deep diving into the entire text of all of those new laws, I did not see any new legislation that I would go so far as to try to repeal.
Do you support term limits? If yes, why and what would they look like? And if no, why not?
I believe that term limits is a double-edged sword that while it may remove bad and corrupt legislators, it may also remove good and effective legislators.
I believe that fair map redistricting, combined with ranked choice voting and campaign finance reform would probably make make term limits unnecessary.
Since that’s not the case, I support term limits.
I believe that term limits should be by years, not by the number of terms. We have elections every two years so I think 8 years works out well. (4 two year terms / 2 four year terms)
I also believe that lifetime appointments of judges should be eliminated, especially US Supreme Court justices. For example – Supreme Court: Every 2 years, the judge longest on the bench is replaced. Every president gets to nominate two new justices during every term. One in the first half and one in the second half of his/her term. The president puts forth three nominees to the Senate. The Senate votes using ranked choice voting and the nominee with the most votes gets appointed.
Inflation across the country has greatly impacted the price of gasoline, food and other supplies. What should the legislature do to address these issues?
Inflation has to be tackled at the Federal level. There is not really all that much that the state legislature can do about the root causes of inflation except perhaps cut back spending on goods and services that are in short supply.
But where the state can do something is that Illinois can crack down on price gouging.
Taxes are a top concern of Illinois voters. What do you think the underlying issues are and how would you propose addressing them?
Illinois has more local units of government than any other state.
The Illinois Department of Revenue counts 6,042, the U.S. Census Bureau counts 6,918, the Illinois comptroller counts 8,529, and the Civic Federation counts 8,923.
So many that we aren’t even sure +/- almost 3000. That I think is a problem. Some consolidation is definitely in order.
We can start with townships. Illinois has 1,432 townships.
I believe that townships are necessary. In many rural areas townships are the only local government available to serve the basic government service needs of the community.
Only townships provide the citizens direct say in how their government is run. True democracy and grassroots government of the people.
Township are directly responsible for maintaining more than 53 percent of the state’s total road miles and nearly half of all bridges. Neither state, county nor municipalities could maintain the more than 71,000 miles of roads and 17,000 bridges townships maintain without increasing their own tax rates.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t lower the number of townships. Illinois can legislate that township government can only exist in unincorporated areas and cannot extend into municipalities. We can also legislate that a township have a minimum number of residents, let’s say 5000 (but could be adjusted up or down according to population density per square mile). or it must merge with an adjoining township.
What are three things the state legislature could do to promote better fiscal responsibility within state government?
The state legislature sort of beat me to what I would have proposed.
The budget saves $2 billion through strong fiscal management and includes:
- $500 million directly to the Pension Stabilization Fund, reducing long-term liabilities by $1.8 billion
- Addition of nearly $900 million to the Rainy Day Fund over FY22 and FY23
- Elimination of the $898 million owed for employee health insurance
But Illinois can do more such as getting far more aggressive in stopping graft, corruption, and sweetheart deals which is estimated to cost the state off Illinois over $500 million / year.
How would you propose addressing the problems with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services?
When the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Director is held in contempt of court again for the eighth time in less than three months, my first question is why is he still there?
Thirty one years ago the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was placed under a federal consent decree to ensure it was living up to its mission and we are still not there?
I would begin by firing some of DCFS’s top leadership that have been identified as ineffectual and/or a detriment to DCFS.
What can be done at a state level to address crime?
The latest Illinois budget sets forth the following for Public Safety & Violence Prevention:
- Over $800 million for violence prevention appropriations, which will more than triple State violence prevention funding since FY19. Includes appropriations for Reimagine Public Safety and R3 grants
- 300 new state troopers, the single largest investment in state history to expand cadet classes
- $50 million increase directly from cannabis revenues to support communities harmed by violence, excessive incarceration and economic disinvestment
- $20 million to support Gang Crime Witness Protection Program
- $20 million for non-profits for security investments to prepare for hate crimes
- $5.4 million for increased staffing and equipment at new forensic lab in Decatur, after expanding state forensic capacity in Chicago and Joliet
At the state level, I would add increased funding for after-school programs for teens and for job training programs focusing on industries experiencing labor shortages.
Did Joe Biden win the 2020 election?
Joe Biden won the November 3rd, 2020 election to become the 46th and current president of the United States.
“The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history” - Department of Homeland Security – Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council (GCC), and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Council (SCC), November 12, 2020. https://www.cisa.gov/news/2020/11/12/joint-statement-elections-infrastructure-governmentcoordinating-council-election
What is your position on the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol?
In my opinion, if we want to prevent a repeat, a thorough investigation must be performed and everyone complicit should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. No one should be above the law.
Additionally, if found guilty, the Fourteenth Amendment, Section 3 of the Constitution should be enforced where applicable:
“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and VicePresident, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Illinois has seen significant revenue growth from marijuana sales and enhanced gambling. Are there other industries the state should consider to grow revenue?
The pockets of Illinois taxpayers are only so deep. We need to look for ways to acquire out of state (and out of country) dollars.
One way to accomplish that may be to begin charging entry fees to state parks for out of state residents while keeping state parks free for Illinois residents.