Republican state Representative Jil Tracy called our newsroom this week to discuss running with GOP gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Kirk Dillard.
Tracy says if Dillard is elected governor in 2014 as his lieutenant governor, her primary focus will be economic development, saying Illinois needs good jobs and Illinois families need to know state government is working for that.
“We actually talked about that when me we discussed me being his running mate,” she said. “We decided that my focus would be to oversee economic development, to be the eyes and ears for the governor.”
She said she would like to see executive agencies being a help and not a hindrance to bringing business to the state. She’s also like to see the tax increase implemented by Gov. Pat Quinn allowed to sunset, calling it a “jobs killer.”
Dillard named Tracy as his running mate on Labor Day. Tracy, who now lives in Quincy, is so far the only executive candidate who hails from southern Illinois.
She was born in Carbondale, raised in Union County, went to school at Anna-Jonesboro and is a two-degree graduate of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
Tracy is a SIU Law School grad who served with two attorney generals, Republican Jim Ryan and Democrat Lisa Madigan. She began serving in the House in 2006.
During her time in the General Assembly, Tracy has served on two notable committees. First she served on the committee that decided to impeach the now convicted former governor Rod Blagojevich.
Currently she is serving on the committee tasked with solving Illinois’ nearly $100 billion pension shortfall.
“The governor didn’t get the job done, so this committee was created,” explained Tracy. “I think that failure is a clear indication we need stronger leadership in the governor’s office.”
She says she’s frustrated, however, with the progress of the committee, commenting that she’s not seeing a resolve on the committee to fix the problem.
“We need these systems to be solvent for the long-haul. This is hurting our state in so many ways. But it sometimes feels like we’re trying to push forward through Jello,” stated Tracy.
Saving Murray and IDOC
When discussing the Murray Center, Tracy said that cutting services is not the best answer to saving money in agencies like the Department of Human Services and for Medicaid.
“We know there’s a lot of fraud and abuse in human services and Medicaid. We need to prioritize our spending and ferret out the fraud and abuse for these services to work as a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens — those without a voice,” she explained. “A lot of our agencies have taken hits.
Dillard has already commented publicly that if elected he would not approve the closure of Murray and would instead move to keep it open.
Tracy noted Quinn has not managed state agencies like a business, pointing to his lack of a long-term plan for the troubled Department of Corrections.
“These downstate facilities need proper staffing,” she said of state prisons, adding that Dillard will likely introduce such a long-term plan.
Despite taxpayers investing $1.3 billion into IDOC each year, Gov. Pat Quinn has publicly stated he only has a one-year plan for corrections and that it is sufficient since the budget and state of the state address are once a year.
Tracy says her’s and Dillard’s private sector business experience will be helpful in developing such long-term plans.
“I’ve seen staffing and cuts that have hurt these facilities and made our prison system dangerous,” Tracy explained.
Dillard has commented that Quinn has exacerbated overcrowding in Illinois prisons by closing facilities while the number of people locked up is at record highs. Quinn insists prisons are not overcrowded, despite complaints from inmates, staff and prison watchdog John Howard Association.