The tax burden on businesses and a rollback of criminal justice reforms enacted by the current General Assembly are key issues for the Republican candidates in 89th District state House race.
The primary is Tuesday.
The candidates are incumbent lawmaker Tony McCombie and retired police officer Victoria Onorato.
McCombie is a real estate appraiser and former mayor of Savanna with a bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and has studied public administration at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Onorato, who is from Byron, wore a badge for 25 years and has law enforcement certifications for investigating sexual criminal abuse of children and other forms of child abuse, community policing and domestic terrorism, and is a certified paralegal.
McCombie represented the 71st District but finds herself in the 89th under redistricting. Constituents tell her that business and community growth are restrained by high property taxes.
During this campaign season, Republicans have often cited the WalletHub property tax rankings, which showed Illinois homeowners paying an average of $4,942 on the median valued home of $217,500 — double the national average.
“As a border district, many see what other states are doing to keep more dollars in the hands of the taxpayer,” McCombie said. “The constituents I serve understand the need for structural and political reform in the state of Illinois.”
That reform should be extended to the Unemployment Trust Fund, McCombie said, citing another key issue coming out of the 102nd General Assembly. Republicans, in general, wanted the state’s portion of the American Recovery Act applied to replenish the fund. After spending $680 million on COVID-19 relief and public health, Democrats devoted a significant amounts to tourism, violence protection, community support, affordable housing and education.
“Not fully re-paying the Unemployment Trust Fund is ultimately a tax on jobs and another bill our business community will have to pay while benefits decrease,” McCombie said. “Illinois can craft and pass legislation to support and grow business, protect taxpayers, and attract working families to move back into our state.”
Onorato’s take on small businesses and farming differs slightly, both of which suffered during the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns during the pandemic. “Communities need help to rebuild what they lost,” she said. “The state is responsible and a debt-free restoration program should be established to rebuild businesses.”
As for reviving farms, Onorato says, government incentives and debt relief are starting points. “Land, trailer, equipment and gas tax increases are responsible for destroying generational farms,” she says. “It is time for lawmakers to rebuild our culture of farming. I will support bills protecting our farmers.”
Onorato said she wants to consider allodial title deeds for farmers.
Allodial title is British common law from the feudal system of personal allegiances and obligations between members of the aristocracy that effectively protected landowners from taxes and land seizures because growing food using serfs was for the command good. In modern Britain, allodial title is all but gone, existing only for small tracks on the Orkney and Shetland islands. In the U.S., property is privately held and subject to eminent domain by the government — it can’t be a gift from a monarch, for example. Two states, Nevada and Texas, created limited “allodial title” provisions that apply only in cases when unincorporated farmland becomes part of a town or city and becomes subject to increased property tax value.
“It is time to build up our farms, not tear them down and diminish them,” she says.
Onorato’s main issue is policing, and she objects to the SAFE-T-Act passed in 2021 and subsequent legislation, such as House Bill 3653.
“I will advocate for hiring more police in every community and participate in repealing any laws that keep officers from keeping citizens safe,” she said. She supports programs that foster better relations between police and communities.
“Fear mongering children into believing police officers are bad will be outlawed,” she said.
McCombie also wants the SAFE-T Act repealed.
“The bill emboldened criminals and ignored victims,” said McCombie, also noting members of law enforcement agencies saw retirements and resignations over the changes. “There has been legislation to amend the original Act, but these trailer bills have not addressed the underlying issues or the dangerous policies of the bill.”
For McCombie, the provision eliminating cash bail prior to pretrial release that takes effect Jan. 1, 2023, needs to be reversed. The narrowing of officer protections from civil lawsuits and the requirement that local agencies pay for many of the reforms are also sticking points for McCombie.
Both candidates are keen to bring scrutiny and accountability to the Department of Children and Family Services. Onorato calls for restructuring of the agency. McCombie wants an investigation and a transparent discussion about solutions.