Dan Caulkins Hopes To Join New Wave Of IL House Freshmen
Dan Caulkins hopes to be one of at least 25 new members of the Illinois House next year. The Decatur businessman, Eastern Illinois University trustee and former Decatur City Councilman is one of three candidates on the March 20th primary ballot for the Republican nomination for the House seat in the 101st District. That seat is one of several in the Illinois House where incumbents have announced their retirements, after a grueling two-year budget impasse.
Caulkins says he’s running to do something for voters in the 101st district, who he says are unhappy over high property and income taxes, and deteriorating roads and schools.
“But I don’t think that’s unique,” said Caulkins. “I think every House district in Illinois suffers the same symptoms”
Caulkins says with so many freshman representatives expected to take office next year, 2019 could be a time of change in Springfield, no matter which party is in power.
“And if we can get a coalition of 15, 16, 17 freshman House members, we can agree to work on things that make a difference in Illinois,” said Caulkins.
Caulkins says one way to improve the shaky finances of the state’s pension funds is to expand the use of 401(k) -style pension plans, already an option for state university employees. He suggests such pension accounts could become an option --- perhaps the only option --- for other state employees, both new and current ones. Caulkins believes employees would appreciate pension accounts “where that money is theirs, where the politicians can’t get their hands on that retirement money.”
Caulkins has made a career out of operating assisted living facilities, and says he understands the problems with Illinois’ business climate, which he describes as plagued by oppressive regulations, and out-of-date worker’s compensation rules and tort law.
“It’s one of the things we have to focus on if we’re going to retain and attract jobs,” said Caulkins. “It’s not a good business climate (in Illinois), there aren’t good jobs coming, and it’s a shame.
Caulkins supports continued efforts to change Illinois’ system of legislative redistricting. He also supports term limits, saying if elected, he will only serve six years in office. In lieu of an actual term limit law, Caulkins says eliminating pensions for state legislators would discourage people from making a full-time vocation out of what he believes should be a part-time job.
Caulkins says he supports Illinois’ medical marijuana program, and thinks the system should be made less cumbersome for users. But he’s wary of current proposals to legalize recreational marijuana, until more is known about its psychological effects on long-term users.
Besides Caulkins, Cerro Gordo School Board President Todd Henricks and Piatt County Board Chairman Randy Keith are also seeking the GOP nomination in the 101st Illinois House District. Jennifer McMillin of Decatur is seeking the Democratic nomination.