Name: John C. D'Amico
Position sought: State Representative, 15th House District
Campaign contact information:
Birthdate: June 12, 1962
D'Amico and his wife Christine D’Amico have three children, Jennifer, Michelle, and John.
Saint Edward Elementary School
Weber High School
Northeastern Illinois University
Assistant Superintendent, Chicago Department of Water Management
Official name of your campaign committee:
Friends of John C. D'Amico
Is there any additional experience you believe qualifies you for the position?
I am qualified for the office of State Representative in the 15th district because I have the ability to work across the aisle and a proven record of passing meaningful legislation that helps people across the State of Illinois. For example, I sponsored and passed House Bill 5056 this past session, which imposes greater penalties for drivers who abuse disability parking plates and decals. This bill, like many of the bills I sponsored in the past, passed with significant bipartisan support, and helps ensure that our disabled drivers gain access to the special accommodations provided by disability plates and decals.
What would your priorities be if elected to this office?
If elected, I will continue to pursue legislation that promotes safety on our state’s roads. Too many deaths and injuries are caused by reckless behaviors behind the wheel that are preventable, and I remain dedicated to ensuring that we enact reasonable and practical laws which not only penalize drivers who do not follow the rules of the road, but also reinforce the idea that every driver shares the road and therefore, is responsible for the safety of others.
I will also do my best to represent the 15th district and protect the interests of its residents in these difficult times. Illinois faces significant challenges related to pensions, funding for vital health and human services, education, and public safety. I am committed to keeping an open mind and considering all available options to implement the reforms needed to put Illinois on a path to a more secure future.
What are the most important issues facing your district and what would you do as a legislator to address them?
Some of the most important issues facing the 15th district are:
1. Education – Now more than ever, it is important that we provide our children with the education and skills necessary to be competitive and successful in today’s rapidly changing, global economy. Because the state can provide guidance, ideas, and support for public education, I will continue to support initiatives that offer the best opportunities for our students across the state.
2. Pensions - Please see my response to the pension question above for my thoughts on how to address the pension issue.
3. Taxes – Considering the current state of the economy, honest budgeting and responsible spending should be the state’s priority, not tax increases. I voted against the income tax increase in 2011 based on the belief that the state should examine ways to live within its means before burdening taxpayers. Going forward, I will continue to stand by that belief.
4. Health and human services – We need to ensure that funding for vital health and human service programs are preserved to the best of the state’s ability in order to protect the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
Illinois’ state government has a terrible reputation in terms of corruption. What would you do to change the culture of state government that has seen recent governors from both political parties convicted of felonies?
The State of Illinois has taken some significant steps in trying to eliminate as much corruption as possible. In 2009 for example, the General Assembly overwhelmingly passed the state Ethics Act, which provides increased protection for whistleblowers, increased investigative powers for the Inspector General, and tougher disclosure requirements for lobbyists, amongst other things.
That same year, the General Assembly also passed legislation to cap campaign contributions and to increase the frequency and transparency of campaign finance disclosures so that the public can better monitor the contributions made to candidates. This past legislative session, we passed bills which we believe will cut down on fraud within programs like workers’ compensation, Medicaid, and government spending, and increase government accountability to taxpayers.
These are just a few of the initiatives the state has implemented to help change the culture of corruption and improve Illinois’ image. However, despite the steps we have taken, I remain committed to working with my colleagues to support legislation that strengthens taxpayers’ ability to keep their government accountable.
In addition, I would support continued efforts by the federal government to find and prosecute corrupt administrators and legislators committing illegal acts.
Education in Illinois is funded primarily through local property taxes. What changes, if any, would make to that funding system?
Education funding is an extremely complex issue that cannot be resolved overnight. I believe it will take a number of smaller, progressive steps to find a funding formula that will not only overburden taxpayers, but also ensure that the funds are being used properly and to the maximum benefit of our students.
Illinois recently passed a significant increase in its income tax, yet the state continues to run a deficit. What specifically should be done to reduce the deficit?
I voted against the income tax increase in 2011. I voted no because it is unfair to further burden taxpayers in the current economy. When the proposal to increase the income tax rate was first being considered, I favored examining other options such as finding and eliminating redundancies in government processes and making government operations more fiscally efficient before considering a tax increase. Raising income tax rates should have been the state’s last option.
Illinois’ unfunded pension liability is $83 billion. The state’s inability to address the issue recently led Moody’s to downgrade Illinois’ credit rating. What should be done to address the state’s rising pension obligations?
Illinois’ unfunded pension liability is an important issue that needs to be resolved as soon as possible for the sake of the pension systems’ future, the sake of employees’ retirement security, and for the sake of the state’s fiscal stability. However, there is no easy resolution to the problem. Years of neglect, failures to make the necessary contributions to keep the systems solvent, and the recession have all contributed to situation Illinois is in today. It is my belief that those who paid into the state’s pension systems should receive their retirement benefits, and that taxpayers should have a fair compromise that does not burden them with paying for our government’s mistakes.
Although there is a lot more work to be done, the General Assembly has taken some important steps to reigning in pensions. For example, last year we decided to issue a full payment to the state pension funds, which have been underfunded for decades. I also voted in favor of Senate Bill 1946, passed in 2010, which has helped reduce long-term pension liabilities by bringing costs under control. Many challenges lie ahead, but we in the General Assembly all agree that something must be done. I am hopeful that we, along with retirees, current employees, and taxpayers, will be able to move forward despite past disagreements to find an equitable compromise that will put Illinois on more stable fiscal footing.
Why would you do a better job representing the district than your opponent? If you are running unopposed, please just share why you are qualified for the position.
I am qualified to be your State Representative because I believe I am representative of the 15th district. Not only did I grow up here, I raise my children here. I make every effort to be out in the community and meet with people from all areas of the district so that I may learn of their concerns and opinions and effectively represent their interests in Springfield.