The 21st Show

State Treasurer Candidates; IL Candidates On The Economy; Passing Land To New Farmers


Left to Right: Democratic State Treasurer Mike Frerichs, Republican State Treasurer nominee Jim Dodge, Libertarian Party nominee Mike Leheney (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)(Jim Dodge)(Mike Leheney)

On the 21st: Today, we continued our election series outlining where candidates stand on growing Illinois’s economy – and fixing our economic problems. Plus,  our series of candidate interviews by speaking with the three men vying for the office of Illinois' Treasurer. But first, we learn more about a program that helps old farmers connect with, mentor, and even pass their land on to young farmers.

All this week we've been talking about some key voter issues – and finding out where candidates stand on topics like healthcare and immigration. Today, the economy.

Our next governor will play a key role in one of the biggest parts of residents' lives and that's taxes. Illinois' personal income tax stands right now at 4.95 percent – that's higher than it was when Gov. Rauner took office four years ago. It's also a flat tax rate which means everyone, regardless of income, gets taxed the same amount.

We also face more than $129 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. That's a tough number to wrap our head around. We discussed: How much will taxpayers be footing that bill? And, the bigger question: What state is our economy in?

Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, joined us to talk about these issues. The Civic Federation is a nonpartisan government research group based in Chicago.

We were also joined by Brian Mackey from Springfield. He's the statehouse reporter for Illinois Public Radio.

Plus –

The state treasurer is in many ways the chief investment officer of Illinois, responsible for making sure the state's dollars are invested wisely.

On Nov. 6, Illinois voters will have a chance to decide who should serve in that role.

Today, we spoke to the three candidates for state Treasurer – in the order that they'll appear on the ballot in Champaign County. 

So first, we heard from Mike Frerichs, who is seeking a second term. He's the Democratic Nominee and has been serving as Illinois' State Treasurer since 2015. Before that, he was a member of the Illinois State Senate. 

Next up we spoke with Jim Dodge, a businessman from Chicago and a member of the Orland Park Board of Trustees. He's also the Republican Nominee for State Treasurer.

And finally, Mike Leheney joined us. Currently, he's the director of financial operations for Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurants. He's from Bourbonnais, where he's also the chairman of the Kankakee County chapter of the Libertarian Party. He is that party's nominee for Treasurer.

But first –

The word "family" and "farm" often go hand-in-hand. For many Midwestern families, passing farmland on to the younger generation is a rite of passage.

But that's not always the case. Sometimes older farmers don't pass down to their families, and in the meantime, there are new and young farmers looking for farmland of their own.

So how do these two groups find each other?

In Iowa, people are working on a solution to this that Illinois could learn from. Madelyn Beck joined us to discuss this, she has been reporting on this for Harvest Public Media.

And David Baker was also with us. He's the director of the Beginning Farmer Center which is a part of the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. 

Benjamin Snare, the owner of Field and Farm Co., also shared his experience with us. He started Field and Farm in 2016 near the Illinois-Wisconsin Border. 

Story source: WILL