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.”

Benford aims for transparency in documenting interactions with residents on social media

Benford aims for transparency in documenting interactions with residents on social media

by Glenn Minnis, Will County Gazette

Benford wants small businesses to be able to compete in Illinois

Benford wants small businesses to be able to compete in Illinois

by Kasey Schefflin-Emrich, Will County Gazette

Alyssia Benford, the Bolingbrook Republican running against Rep. Natalie Manley (D-Joliet) in the 98th District, wants small businesses to be competitive in Illinois.

“The high cost of doing business in Illinois is driving our small businesses to the neighboring states,” Benford said recently. “My opponent voted for the last tax increase, which is one of the reasons I decided to run for office. As a CPA representing small businesses for years, I felt it was irresponsible of my opponent to vote for any increase that would make it more difficult and more competitive for a small business to be successful in Illinois.”

State contract work requirements also make it hard for small businesses to compete, and insurance or annual revenue requirements can automatically disqualify a small business from competing for state contracts, Benford said.

“There used to be requirements for a portion of state work to be given to small businesses and/or minority-owned businesses,” Benford said. “When this requirement was removed, my firm lost a portion of the state contracts where we worked as the minority vendor. Some of this work was ultimately given to companies that set up a ‘temporary office’ in Illinois in order to qualify as an Illinois firm.”

Benford said the state needs to do more to help small businesses.

“The state government appears to be more interested in protecting big businesses,” Benford said. “Sba.gov reported Illinois small businesses employed 2.4 million people or 46.6 percent of the private workforce in 2013. Given that close to 50 percent of the private workforce employs small businesses in Illinois, it is important that our state government supports them.”

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

Link to Article: https://willcountygazette.com/stories/511408956-benford-wants-small-businesses-to-be-able-to-compete-in-illinois

Benford pledges to bring outsider perspective to 98th House District

Benford pledges to bring outsider perspective to 98th House District

by Robert Hadley, Will County Gazette

Sounding the rallying cry of an outsider, Alyssia Benford of Bolingbrook, the Republican candidate for state representative in the 98th District, proclaims on her campaign website that “Illinois’ political class has failed our communities.”

Benford, who was unopposed in the GOP primary, will be challenging Rep. Natalie Manley (D-Joliet) in November.

Benford has seen in her own experience the value of education and the sacrifices a family sometimes is called upon to make. Her mother worked hard to send her to an out-of-district school, where she was in the marching band and enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps. Breast cancer claimed her mother’s life at an early age, but not before Benford completed a bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University.

Benford survived her own bout with breast cancer, drawing on the example her mother set years earlier. She offers that strength as an adviser to others sharing the same diagnosis.

Today, Benford is a practicing accountant, having worked first for Deloitte and later for Motorola, where she oversaw payroll for approximately 30,000 employees, her bio says.

A Rotary Club member, Benford has a string of civic accomplishments on her resume, which includes president of the Bolingbrook Chamber of Commerce, serving on the Police Pension Board, and being a member of Jack and Jill of America and Victory Cathedral Worship Center.

“As your state representative, Alyssia will hold Springfield accountable and restore your voice in government,” a statement on her website says.

Benford calls out Manley for voting for 2 percent service tax fee

Benford calls out Manley for voting for 2 percent service tax fee

by Carrie Bradon, Will County Gazette

Alyssia Benford, Republication candidate for state representative in the 98th District, recently called out her opponent, Rep. Natalie Manley (D-Joliet), for “ineffective leadership” and “lack of communication” related to a tax hike that will cost taxpayers $60 million.

“In July 2017, the Illinois budget that was passed included a new tax,” Benford said in a press release. “A 2% service tax fee for sales tax collected was included in the budget. It will increase the state revenue by an estimated $60 million. Where is the $60 million coming from? It will come from your local community.”

The 2 percent service tax fee is to cover the distribution of the portion of sales tax that is retuned to local municipalities by the Illinois Department of Revenue, Benford said.

“Given that the state already maintains 6.25%, they are receiving the large portion of the sales taxes collected,” she said in the press release. “Now an additional 2% is being taken from the sales tax collected as a ‘service fee’ prior to disbursing the funds back to the city. It is similar to paying an ATM fee, which is basically paying a fee to get your money back that you deposited into the bank.”

Benford explained in the press release that Manley was the sole representative in the area who voted for the tax.

“Three of her colleagues that also cover parts (of) the 98th District voted ‘no’ and advocated to keep your local dollars local, but Manley voted to help take $60 million from the towns that she is supposed to represent,” Benford said. “That is $60 million of economic development, infrastructure improvements, etc. that goes to help the State budget crisis. Manley failed to communicate with the local mayors prior to supporting the tax increase.”

Benford said the annual impact on Joliet alone will be $1.6 million, money that Mayor Bob O’DeKirk has said had to be taken out of reserves to cover this year’s fees.

“Those funds could have been used to pay for additional Police and Fire personnel in my community that work hard to keep us safe on a daily basis,” Benford said in the press release. “That is why I support keeping local tax dollars local.”

The 98th District covers all or parts of Bolingbrook, Crest Hill, Crystal Lawns and Joliet.

Benford honored for her service to community

Benford honored for her service to community

by Carrie Bradon, Will County Gazette

Alyssa Benford is in the middle of her GOP campaign to represent the 98th House District, but that didn’t stop her from taking part in the community happenings.

Benford was part of the Feb 18 gathering for the Black History Month Community Service Sunday at St. John’s Cathedral of Grace in Aurora.

The service honored individuals who have made an impact on the community, including Steve Baskerville, a retired CBS meteorologist; Siafa Lewis, an NBC Sports anchor; Richard Irvin, mayor of Aurora; various members of the Naperville School Board and Indian Prairie School Board; and Benford, who is also a DuPage Township trustee.

Cathedral of Grace at St. John has been participating in the service to thank those who help the community for 155 years.