Martin J. Moylan
Running for: State Representative
Political party affiliation: Democratic
- Mayor, Des Plaines, 2009-2012
- Alderman, Des Plaines, 2007-2009
- State Rep, 55th District January 2013 – Present
Occupation: State Representative
Education: BA from U of I
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent nominees for the Illinois House of Representatives a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois and their districts. Martin J. Moylan submitted the following responses:
1. The COVID-19 pandemic has hammered the finances of Illinois. The state is staring at a $6.2 billion budget shortfall in this fiscal year. What should be done? Please be specific.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented situation for all of us. As of now, over 230,000 Illinoisans have contracted the disease, and over 8,000 have passed away. During the last few months, my office has gotten multiple calls every single day for assistance with residents’ unemployment claims, and many of them have been desperate. Over a million jobs have been lost, and even people still able to work are having to change their daily routine and practices to adjust to the pandemic. While Illinois and Illinoisans have stepped up to face this challenge, it cannot be stressed enough that the Trump administration has abandoned us to face it alone. Despite having plenty of warning and time to prepare, the federal leadership that we would expect in a time of crisis was not there for us. We have to acknowledge that without effective containment of the pandemic, economic recovery will take much longer. Any response must include a fast and effective system of testing, treatment, and tracing. Additionally, we must ensure there is assistance for our most vulnerable residents, particularly seniors. This means in-home care and meals on wheels. As the future of the evictions moratorium remains unclear, we have to make sure that renters and homeowners have relief, and that grants and loans are provided to small businesses that are struggling. With all of this in mind, we must be responsible with our funds, and to make sure of that I worked with my colleagues in the 101st General Assembly to create a new task force whose job is to make sure that the state is not spending money it does not have and provide another layer of oversight to state spending.
2. What grade — “A” to “F” — would you give Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic? Please explain. What, if anything, should he have done differently?
No response to the pandemic was ever going to be perfect. We have never encountered a situation like this before. Nearly 200,000 Americans are dead because of this virus. Rather than acting early and following the advice of scientists and medical experts, the Trump administration left states to fend for themselves, and even created a bidding war between states for much needed PPE. Governor Pritzker listened to the scientists and medical experts, put politics aside, and made the decisions necessary to protect Illinoisans and put us on the path to recovery. That is what needed to be done, and he did not hesitate to do it.
3. In the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, legislatures in some states have taken up the issue of police reform. Should Illinois do the same? If so, what would that look like?
The death of George Floyd was a devastating tragedy, and the continued violence in our streets is an outrage. At a time like this, it is important that we listen to the voices of everyone involved from police to community leaders so that we can work to improve the relationship between police and our residents. Without trust and mutual support, we cannot keep our streets safe for all.
4. Should the Legislature pass a law requiring all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras? Why or why not?
Body cameras are an important tool in ensuring transparency and encouraging trust in our police officers, the majority of whom serve with the highest level of integrity. But body cameras in and of themselves are only one part of a larger conversation that must be had in strengthening the relationship between communities and police departments. We have to hear from stakeholders on all sides to find the best solutions going forward.
5. Federal prosecutors have revealed a comprehensive scheme of bribery, ghost jobs and favoritism in subcontracting by ComEd to influence the actions of House Speaker Michael Madigan. Who’s to blame? What ethics reforms should follow? Should Madigan resign?
Before the pandemic broke out my main focus going into session this year was ethics reform. Change in Springfield is not about any one individual, it is about closing the loopholes that allow politicians to use their public office to seek private gain. That is why this year I filed bills that would prevent elected officials at the state and local level from being able to accept high-paying lobbying positions after the end of their term of office, and to prevent the family members of elected officials from accepting positions in industries affected by legislation that those elected officials file legislation for. We must have strong penalties for those who violate the trust of the public and use their positions for corrupt purposes.
6. Please tell us about your civic work in the last two years, whether it’s legislation you have sponsored or work you have done in other ways to improve your community.
In the legislature I have continued to act as an independent voice for my district, pushing for ethics reform in Springfield which affects all of us, as well as pushing for common sense gun control legislation such as a ban on bump stocks and other deadly modifications. I was also able to secure over $100 million dollars in capital investment in my district so that our communities can reconstruct, repair, and renovate our local infrastructure.
7. Please list three concerns that are specific to your district, such as a project that should be undertaken or a state policy related to an important local issue that should be revised.
Pandemic control – One of the communities in my district, Des Plaines, has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the Northwest Suburbs. It is important that we make sure that we are protecting our seniors and other vulnerable populations by making sure that nursing homes and senior care centers have the resources and protection they need to ensure they have the care they need.
Ethics reform – For too long working families have had to struggle because of the corrupt schemes of some elected officials such as red light cameras and exorbitant property tax bills. We need a government that works for everyone, and so we must have tougher fines and punishments for politicians who use their public office for private gain.
Common sense gun laws – Last year, a man who should have never been able to legally obtain a gun killed five people in Aurora. This is why I backed legislation to fix our FOID system and close loopholes that allow felons and mentally ill individuals to obtain deadly arms. The act would require universal background checks for all firearm transfers, and ensure law enforcement confiscates guns from individuals who lose their privileges. Also, it would raise the FOID card fee to fund mental health services.
8. What are your other top legislative priorities?
Right now it is so imperative that we find a way out of the current nightmare that the COVID-19 pandemic has put us in. Everyone wants life to go back to normal, but the longer the virus spreads in our communities, the longer it will take for our economy to recover and for life to go back to business as usual. I want to do everything in my power to make sure that everyone has access to COVID testing and treatment, and that we have a sophisticated tracing network to contain outbreaks before they take root. We also have to make sure that our residents and businesses have the resources they need to endure the pandemic.
9. What is your position on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax? Please explain.
Working people should not be paying the same tax rates as the extremely rich. Residents in my district overwhelmingly tell me, every year, that the tax system as it stands isn’t working. With the passage of the graduated income tax, 97% of Illinoisans would see lower taxes or no change at all. Right now, families who bring in $40,000 a year are paying the same rate as families who bring in over $250,000 a year. A flat tax structure like the one we have hasn’t even been the standard for the United States in over one hundred years. It’s time to change it.
10. Illinois continues to struggle financially, with a backlog of unpaid bills. In addition to a progressive state income tax — or in lieu of such a tax — what should the state do to pay its bills, meet its pension obligations and fund core services such as higher education?
It is important to remember that right now we are not even assured of all of the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic will affect our economy, and we are still gathering information on it. But there is no doubt that it will only compound the problems that we have already had, and it is going to be a long and difficult road to recovery. With that said, we have had to make some very hard choices in Springfield and revisit our budget line items so that we could make the cuts needed to free up over $1 billion dollars to pay down our bills while keeping essential services intact. This is going to be something we need to continue while also adjusting for the negative effects of the pandemic as time goes on, and recognize that as long as the Trump administration neglects its duties in controlling the pandemic nationwide, we will be struggling to climb out of this crisis.
11. Should Illinois consider taxing the retirement incomes of its very wealthiest residents, as most states do? And your argument is?
Under no circumstances do I support taxing the income of our retirees.
12. What can Illinois do to improve its elementary and high schools?
The pandemic has placed a great deal of burden on our students, teachers, parents, and school administrations. The challenges ahead are difficult for us to control, but our first priority is making sure that our children can get a quality education in the safest manner available. Before the pandemic I worked with the General Assembly to provide and additional $350 million to fund elementary and high schools, which has been invaluable considering the burden placed on schools by the pandemic. One thing I plan to work on in the future as well is ensuring that families have access to quality home internet services. The “new normal” that we have entered has proven that this is an indispensable tool to provide home-learning.
13. Mass shootings and gun violence plague America. What can or should the Legislature do, if anything, to address this problem in Illinois?
It is clear now that the combination of lax gun laws with lots of loopholes and mental illness are a very dangerous combination. The solution to this is to hear from all stakeholders from law enforcement to medical professionals and others to address the mental health crisis. But we must also close the loopholes in our gun laws, which is why I supported the Fix the FOID Act, which would aim to close many of these loopholes such as purchasing firearms at gun shows without background checks, strengthening background checks, and requiring law enforcement to confiscate weapons from criminals.
14. Do you favor or oppose term limits for any elected official in Illinois? Please explain.
In general, I support term limits on legislators. I supported it when it was enacted in Des Plaines, my home town, and I support it now. I think it is very important that we examine the specific policies proposed on term limits, and that if we place term limits on legislators that we should also place them on constitutional officers, to avoid a system in which the government has less accountability to voters.
15. Everybody says gerrymandering is bad, but the party in power in every state — Democrats in Illinois — resist doing anything about it. Or do we have that wrong? What should be done?
We must take the power of redistricting out of the hands of politicians and place it in the hands of an independent process. This is why in the 99th General Assembly I supported a constitutional amendment that would create an independent process for redistricting. Illinois voters deserve a transparent process, and a true fair map that protects representation for all of our residents.
16. The U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago is investigating possible official corruption by state and local officials. This prompted the Legislature to pass an ethics reform measure to amend the Lobbyist Registration Act (SB 1639). It was signed into law in December. What’s your take on this and what more should be done?
SB1639 was a step in the right direction, but obviously much more needs to be done. This is why I supported House Joint Resolution 93 to create the Joint Commission on ethics and Lobbying Reform to make recommendations on how we can change the various ethics acts for elected officials, government officials, and state employees to prevent corruption. Along with this, I filed several bills in the most recent session to address lobbying reform and to prevent elected officials from becoming lobbyists upon retirement. There will always be those who try to use their public position for personal gain, but we can do a lot more to make sure that these actors are caught and punished.
17. When people use the internet and wireless devices, companies collect data about us. Oftentimes, the information is sold to other companies, which can use it to track our movements or invade our privacy in other ways. When companies share this data, we also face a greater risk of identity theft. What should the Legislature do, if anything?
Corporations using our private and personal data to gain profit is a still a pretty new phenomenon, and it is going to take time and dedicated research along with talking with stakeholders to find out the best way to regulate the practice. What I would like to make sure of is that regulations like this put middle-class families first and hold businesses that fail to protect this data or fall victim to a “breach” are held accountable. More than a few constituents in my district alone have complained of having their identity stolen as a result of such data breaches, and fixing that problem is not easy.
18. The number of Illinois public high school graduates who enroll in out-of-state universities continues to climb. What can Illinois do to make its state universities more attractive to Illinois high school students?
College students leaving Illinois to pursue their education frequently end up staying in the state they get their education in. They start businesses, pursue careers, and this costs Illinois nearly $776 million in lifetime tax revenue. The Rauner administration made this problem much worse by blocking billions of dollars to fund our universities, and even went as far as to veto MAP Grant funding. Funding MAP Grants, and other grants, is essential to provide access to quality university education to middle-class students. This is why during the 100th General Assembly I worked to make sure that MAP grants are funded all four years, instead of just one. We also created the AIM HIGH grants, which are merit-based. It is no secret that the overwhelming debt that many college graduates end up with causes many problems later on for them, particularly in being able to buy houses and settle down. The number one priority should be to make sure college is as affordable as possible.
19. What is your top legislative priority with respect to the environment?
I am a co-sponsor on the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which is a huge priority. CEJA would bring labor groups and businesses together to find ways to create tens of thousands of green energy jobs. Our goal is to be 100% renewable, we absolutely cannot settle for any less.
20. What historical figure from Illinois, other than Abraham Lincoln (because everybody’s big on Abe), do you most admire or draw inspiration from? Please explain.
Honestly, I have gotten a lot of inspiration from the people living in Illinois today, right now. We are living through an unprecedented crisis and Illinoisans have stepped up to the plate and done what needs to be done. From simply wearing masks to giving up visiting elderly relatives for long periods of time to keep them safe, everyone has had to make personal sacrifices and continue to do so to protect one another. That’s inspiring.
21. What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why?
I don’t watch a ton of stuff because I like staying active and busy, but I do love watching Wheel of Fortune. It keeps you thinking!