Terra Costa Howard
Terra Costa Howard, the Democratic candidate for the 48th House District, came down on both sides of several issues during a recent Chicago Sun-Times editorial board meeting with her opponent, Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard).
Howard spoke three times in favor of tax increases but hedged her bets each time. She spoke against last year’s change in the education funding formula and also claimed it was necessary. She supported an increase to $15 an hour in the minimum wage, but not right away.
Howard said that a bill sponsored by Breen criminalizes all abortions. While it prohibits public funding of abortions, with exceptions covering the life of the mother and the federal standards of rape and incest, the bill does not criminalize them.
Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard)
On the tax front, Breen said throughout the hour-long meeting that he opposes even the discussion of raising taxes. That includes a move to a graduated tax. Middle-income families in Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Lombard and other towns would all take a hit under a graduated tax, he said.
“The problem I had was, until you're willing to show me that somehow this tax increase could, in any way, be outweighed by the level of reforms that we just weren't even approaching, I couldn't even begin to support it or talk about it,” he said.
Howard covered the issues from both sides.
“Sure. I'm not asking to raise our income tax the way that my opponent has tried to suggest,” she said. “What I'm saying is, we need an overhaul of how we tax people in general, right? Whether we talk about it from a graduated income tax, which I'm not opposed to in theory. However, that graduated income tax has to alleviate the burden on the property taxes.”
Then later in the discussion, she said:
“And then we're going to talk about a property tax freeze? We can't even talk about that freeze because then where is that money going to come from, because costs continue … to rise.”
While discussing how to pay off the state’s massive public pension debt, Howard said the solution was going to be painful for Illinoisans.
“Look, people don't want to have to, to hear the truth sometimes, and unfortunately the truth is, this is gonna hurt for some time a little bit longer until we get this down and we get this paid,” Howard said. “And that for me is part of overhauling the ... entire tax system. But it is someplace that has to start. We have to find the income. We have got to find the revenue to be put into the system.”
Asked where she would find new revenue without raising taxes, Howard was uncertain.
“Um, exactly where that's going to occur, I'll be honest … I don't have an exact answer for that, but it is ... Part of it has to be part of spending.”
Howard’s primary backers are Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) and Personal PAC.
At the start of the interview, Breen said that his brother-in-law, an engineer by training, recently packed up his family and joined thousands of others fleeing the corruption in the state.
“You hear at the door, folks saying, ‘Hey, until we get rid of Madigan, nothing's going to change,’” Breen said. “You know, that ... That sort of sentiment is probably, at least for folks in our area, one of their biggest ... concerns. It's this issue of despair and hopelessness that's really ... racking our suburban communities. And, I would point to DuPage County as a place where the Illinois recovery needs to start.”