Biss, Farkas vie for 9th Senate seat
Name: Daniel Biss
Family: wife and two boys
Education: Harvard University in mathematics and a doctorate in mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Name: Glenn Farkas
Family: wife and a boy and girl
Education: University of Cincinnati in marketing and finance and a master’s degree in finance from DePaul University.
Updated: October 19, 2012 9:10AM
Candidates seeking to represent Illinois’ 9th Senate District believe a top issue facing suburban voters Nov. 6 is public pension reform and how it impacts state finances.
Daniel Biss, D–Evanston, now holds the 17th House District.
His Republican opponent, Glenview resident Glenn Farkas, owns a wealth management company.
Both candidates said a cash balance plan to ease the pension problem could work. A a 401(k) program would pool investments, yet give new employees a guaranteed minimum benefit.
Public employees would share the investment risk, rather than held entirely by the state.
“There still would be a safety benefit net for teachers, but the state would not bear the complete risk of investing,” Biss said, adding the current system required the state to pay benefits no matter how poorly its investments had performed.
“We should divide the risk between employee and the state,” he said.
Farkas said the state could offer public workers a defined contribution retirement plan that allowed employees to make pre-tax contributions from incomes to a retirement account.
“We should consider all things regarding pensions, but employees may like this deal better,” Farkas said.
Farkas pointedly blamed past and current Democrats for mishandling pensions, saying elected officials had been “in collusion with unions for 15 to 20 years.”
“Now the light has been shown on how taxpayers have been getting screwed, and Democrats believe the only way out is increase taxes for people and school districts,” he said.
Farkas also supported cancelling all pension plans for politicians.
“The only thing fair here is starting with the politicians. We’re in this mess because of them.”
With the state experiencing a $15 trillion overall debt, Biss said officials must look at all options, including collecting more revenues through taxes.
“We need a compromise. What’s alarming about the positions of Farkas and (presidential candidate) Mitt Romney is their hard absolutist approach. We’re trillions in debt and we can’t even talk about taxes?” Biss said.
As a business owner, Farkas believed Illinois must become more business-friendly to the private sector.
“Indiana is in the top five best states for businesses because it’s a right to work state, whereas Chicago has three times the average workers compensation rate,” he said.
“No longer can we be so out of the picture on taxes and fees.”
The candidates shared school funding views Sept. 19 at a student-organized debate at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview.
Biss said Illinois has sent less money to state universities today than in 1992, again blaming pensions.
“In every area, education has been cut because of pensions,” he said.
Farkas explained the fundamental answer to college funding was “fixing the state.”
“Pensions and Medicaid need fixing first,” Farkas said. “We need businesses here in Illinois and we must fix the state budget.”
Biss was against school vouchers, while his opponent supported them for the sake of giving parents the choice between sending children to public or private schools.
“My vision of public schools is providing a quality education, regardless of where you live. Vouchers allow us to give up on that vision,” Biss said.
“Vouchers in the city and suburbs give choices. You still want to have (funding) follow them to the schools,” Farkas said.