Benford urges fellow candidates to earn, not buy votes

Benford urges fellow candidates to earn, not buy votes

Benford calls for property tax cap to quell fear, uncertainty

Benford calls for property tax cap to quell fear, uncertainty

Benford gets support from Attorney General candidate Harold, Assyrian-American group

Benford gets support from Attorney General candidate Harold, Assyrian-American group

by Chandra Lye, Will County Gazette

Benford pushes WSJ commentary on pensions

Benford pushes WSJ commentary on pensions

Benford joins AG candidate Harold on the campaign trail

Benford joins AG candidate Harold on the campaign trail

by Glenn Minnis, Will County Gazette

Alyssia Benford is quickly becoming a household name around the 98th District.

Benford, running against Rep. Natalie Manley (D-Joliet), was recently on hand for the Village of Bolingbrook picnic, where she mingled with area residents and joined GOP candidate for Attorney General Erika Harold in spreading their vision for a more effective and efficient Springfield.

“I met so many wonderful residents today and shared my story of why I want to be your next state representative,” Benford posted on Facebook.

In another post, Benford posted pics of her interacting with the voters of her district.

“I had a fun filled day full meeting residents of the 98th district,” she added.

Finally, Benford was also recently in attendance for a discussion on improving the Joliet community led by Mike Clark, president of the NAACP Joliet Branch.

Benford recently took lawmakers to task over the state’s new $38.5 billion budget, which she has blasted as a disservice to taxpayers.

“This year’s budget is just another example of that failure,” she said in a press release. “We should not celebrate the passage of another unbalanced budget that fails to advance any of the reforms our families desperately need. It is a budget that delivers for the politicians, the special interests and the trial lawyers, not the people.”

Benford says new budget ‘fails to advance’ reforms people ‘desperately need’

Benford says new budget ‘fails to advance’ reforms people ‘desperately need’

by Glenn Minnis, Will County Gazette

GOP state House hopeful Alyssia Benford holds the recently enacted state budget up as another example of how lawmakers have failed their constituents and why she thinks taxpayers need her in Springfield.

“This year’s budget is just another example of that failure,” she said in a press release. “We should not celebrate the passage of another unbalanced budget that fails to advance any of the reforms our families desperately need.”

Benford, who is running against Rep. Natalie Manley (D-Joliet) in the 98th District, said the $38.5 billion spending plan that was overwhelmingly passed by both chambers of the General Assembly and quickly signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner does nothing to change the course of the state’s rocky trajectory.

“It is a budget that delivers for the politicians, the special interests and the trial lawyers, not the people,” she added. “The budget is unbalanced and fails to reform the major systems in government. It sets the stage for higher taxes. A progressive tax and a 1 percent statewide property tax are all on the table because of the passage of this budget.”

Finally, Benford argues that her opponent has had no problem with spending “every dollar” from last year’s record-setting 32 percent tax hike.

“It’s the status quo as usual: They [state legislators] force you to pay more [and] congratulate themselves on passing a budget funded by you,” the release said.

Once in Springfield, Benford said her primary goal will be to legislate and advocate on behalf of her constituents in hopes that a repeat of all the flaws she sees in the new budget don’t have a chance to happen again.

“As a CPA, Benford said spotting all the inconsistencies in the new budget came easy for her.

“The budget relies on an estimated revenue process that has not been perfected or it has the potential to be politically motivated,” she said. “For example, the budget contains $300 million in estimated revenues for the sale of the Thompson Center.  This is the third year of an expected sale of the Thompson Center, so what happens to $300 million in expenses if the Thompson Center is not sold?”

Benford also pointed to what she said is a practice of skipping payments to try to manipulate the budget into being “balanced.”

She compared the process to balancing a household budget for the month by deciding not to pay the mortgage.

“Moving millions of dollars in bills to the next fiscal year does not balance the current year budget or the next year’s budget,” she said, adding that she stands in support of a pension buyback plan proposed by Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) that could save the state as much as $400 million.

“Saving money and meeting pension obligations at the same time is a win-win,” she added. “My fiscally responsible recommendation would be to utilize the savings from the buyback program to fund the $130 billion pension debt.”

Benford says Springfield needs ‘culture of accountability’

Benford says Springfield needs ‘culture of accountability’

Benford: Jobs, economic opportunity will stop exodus from Illinois

Benford: Jobs, economic opportunity will stop exodus from Illinois

Benford: ‘We can’t tax our way out of our issues’

Benford: ‘We can’t tax our way out of our issues’

by Karen Kidd, Will County Gazette

A proposed statewide 1 percent property tax would hit already over-burdened Illinois taxpayer and would only make their lives harder, the Republican candidate for the state House 98th District seat said during a recent interview.

“I do not support a property tax hike at this time,” Alyssia Benford told the Will County Gazette. “We have homes in the south suburbs that are underwater and a tax hike will make it harder to sell homes that are already undervalued.”

The proposed tax hike will not solve Illinois’ deepening financial issues, Benford, who is from Bolingbrook,  said.

“It just passes more of the financial burden onto the taxpayer,” she said.

Benford is running for the House seat currently held by Rep. Natalie Manley (D-Joliet) in November’s General Election. The 98th House District covers all or parts of Bolingbrook, Crest Hill, Joliet, Plainfield and Romeoville.

If elected, Benford will become the first African-American female Republican representative in the history of Illinois, according to the release she issued when she filed petitions for her run in November.

Benford’s comments come a couple of weeks after a report issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago that recommends spending down the state’s enormous pension debt with a 1 percent statewide tax on residential property. The recommended tax would be in addition to property taxes – among the highest in the nation – that Illinoisan already pay.

“Because the debt is so large, it’s unrealistic to think that new taxes (such as a tax on legalized marijuana or financial transactions) or increases that affect only a narrow segment of the population will be enough,” the Federal Reserve in Chicago said in a post that ran with the report. “Illinois will have to find additional revenues from already existing tax bases, either by increasing rates, expanding the definition of what is taxable, or a combination of the two.”

The Conservative Illinois Policy Institute pointed to a crunch of the numbers done by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation on the proposed tax.

“The results aren’t pretty,” the Illinois Policy Institute reported, pointing to the foundation’s analysis of Illinois as 45th in the nation for property tax burden at “2.03 percent of median income, or $2,087 per capita.”

“If the Land of Lincoln implements this new 1 percent property tax, the Tax Foundation estimates Illinois’ property tax burden would fall behind every other state, ranking 50 out of 50,” the Illinois Policy Institute reported. “That ranking takes into account property tax collections per capita, property taxes as a percent of personal income and capital stock taxes.”

Reforms are the way to go, Benford said.

“We can’t tax our way out of our issues,” she said. “Cutting wasteful spending, creating jobs and making Illinois a business-friendly state will help grow our economy. Job growth in Illinois is extremely low compared to job growth in our neighboring states.”

On the heels of the Chicago Fed proposal, Illinois’ 42nd House District House Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) introduced House Resolution 1072 to oppose the proposed statewide property tax. So far, the resolution has 41 co-sponsors.

“I remain hopeful that our elected officials will recognize the mass exodus and work to change things as quickly as possible,” Benford said.

‘Change is hard, but we can do it,’ 98th state House District candidate says

‘Change is hard, but we can do it,’ 98th state House District candidate says

by Karen Kidd, Will County Gazette

Springfield legislators should partner with business and communities – not work against them – to pull Illinois out of its recent ranking as among the worst states in the nation in which to do business, the Republican candidate for the state House 98th District seat said during a recent interview.

“Illinois needs legislators and policies that work for businesses and the people of our communities instead of against them,” Alyssia Benford, running against Rep. Natalie Manley (D-Joliet) in November’s General Election, told the Will County Gazette. “Illinois lawmakers increased the state income tax by 32 percent last year and are already considering raising taxes again. My opponent Natalie Manley voted for the income tax increase.  After the tax increase, the state still did not have a balanced budget because we didn’t adopt any spending reforms.”

Spending reforms don’t equate to austerity, Benford said.

“When we hear the term spending reforms, people often assume that means cutting services,” she said.”There are other ways to lower our costs without compromising services.  We can implement other cost-cutting efficiencies as well as perform program evaluations on services we offer to ensure our programs are operating effectively.”

Benford said that while working for Motorola, she helped implement best practices and internal controls based on studying the company’s competitors, customers and other economic factors, skills she thinks will help when it comes time to head to Springfield.

“Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin have all seen significant growth in jobs and their economy,” she said. “I am hopeful that Illinois will become the leader in the Midwest in terms of job growth and economic opportunities. In order to accomplish these goals, we need to elect people that (have) the ability to get the job done. Decades of overspending, overpromising and over borrowing raise the likelihood of more tax increases in the future to cover all the obligations that have been created. ”

The 98th House District covers all or parts of Bolingbrook, Crest Hill, Joliet, Plainfield and Romeoville.

If elected, Benford will become the first African-American female Republican representative in the history of Illinois, according to the release she issued when she filed petitions for her run in November. Benford has placed the blame for Illinois’ high property taxes on state officials, says she has a great desire for small businesses in the state to be competitive and has promised she will stand up to the machinations of Illinois’ longtime and powerful state House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).

Benford’s most recent comments to the Will County Gazette came a few weeks after Illinois ranked 48th out of the 50 states in the Chief Executive Magazine’s annual poll “Best and Worst States for Business,” released May 3. It’s the fourth year in a row that Illinois has held that spot.

Illinois ranked behind No. 47 New Jersey, No. 46 Connecticut and No. 45 Massachusetts. It came in ahead of No. 50 California and No. 49 New York.

The best states in which to do business in the nation, according to Chief Executive Magazine’s latest poll, are  No. 1 Texas, No. 2 Florida, a tie for No. 3 between North Carolina and South Carolina, and No. 5 Indiana.

“Seem familiar,” Chief Executive Magazine said in its article released with this year’s poll. “That’s because those are the exact same positions each of these states has occupied in each of the last four years in our annual poll of CEOs about business climates.”

Benford admits it won’t be easy for Illinois to pull itself out of that ignominious ranking.

“Change is hard, but we can do it,” Benford said. “We have to elect independent leaders that will work to represent the people in our communities. Massive tax hikes with no reform is like putting a bandage on a gunshot wound. We need reforms that will grow our economy, decrease our unemployment rate, and attract businesses back to Illinois.”

As a Certified Public Accountant for more than 20 years, Benford said she has worked with business owners who have experienced challenges while trying to maintain or grow their business in Illinois.

“I had one client recently tell me that she is opening up a business, but plans to do it in Indiana, because ‘it is just too expensive to have a business in Illinois,” Benford said. “Her husband was also concerned that their take-home pay has decreased as a result of the personal income tax hike my opponent supported.”

Benford said she has the background and experience to do the job. “While working on my master’s degree in Governmental Accounting, I had the opportunity to study pension plans as well as state and local government financial policies and systems across the country,” she said.

“I am currently working on my doctoral degree covering pension plans, property taxes and their impact on education funding.  That’s why I’m running for office – to bring real tax relief to the families in our community and to change the policies that are hurting businesses.”