Running for: State Representative – 38th District
Political party affiliation: Democratic
Political/civic background: Olympia Fields Village Trustee 2001-2010; Olympia Fields Village President 2010 to 2017; Community Relations Committees-Country Club Hills, Hazel Crest and Olympia Fields; Homewood League of Women Voters; United Way, South/Southwest; CEDA-Bloom Board member; Lions Club; Prairie State College President’s Advisory Board; Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Justice Committee and Rich Township Democratic Organization
Occupation: Formerly Community Affairs Marketing Specialist for the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office; Housing Coordinator for the South Suburban Housing Center; Community Relations Director for the Village of Hazel Crest: and Congressional Coordinator for the NAACP Voter Fund.
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent nominees for the Illinois House of Representatives a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois and their districts. Debbie Meyers-Martin submitted the following responses:
The COVID-19 pandemic has hammered the finances of Illinois. The state is staring at a $6.2 billion budget shortfall in this fiscal year. What should be done? Please be specific.
I believe that the State has embarked on what was a feasible and allowable option, in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic Health Crisis to address the 2021 state Budget. During this unprecedented time, the General Assembly, in an effort to diminish the suffering in the State of Illinois and its citizens, chose to approve a $42.8 billion General Funds budget built on authorization to borrow $5 billion, allowable under the Federal Reserve Bank .That amount could be less, but will be based on the Federal Government’s approval of additional stimulus funding to the states. Also incorporated into the budget is the revenue generated from the passage of the Fair Tax Referendum. Additionally, included in the budget, is the $3,5 billion in federal funds Illinois anticipates receiving as a result of previously approved funds. Under these unprecedented circumstances this was the most reasonable option. Had it not been for COVID-19 health crisis, the state was right on target,according to the Department of Revenue, related to the projected revenues from the previous budget, to be in a fiscally sound position. I believe the General Assembly and the Governor chose the correct course, in light of all the circumstances.
What grade — “A” to “F” — would you give Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic? Please explain. What, if anything, should he have done differently?
I give Governor Pritzker an “A-” for his handling of the Coronavirus Pandemic. I believe his attention, and adherence to the science and medical communities’ advice have prevented the State of Illinois from encountering the same type of spike in cases that other states are experiencing at this point. I have received many supportive calls and emails in support of the Governor’s approach. If I had to express one point that may have been overlooked in the current strategy, I would have given more flexibility to the Counties that were not experiencing the same positivity rates as Cook or Will County, and would have allowed some small businesses the flexibility to remain open with safeguards such as the requirement of masks and the enforcement of social distancing.
In the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, legislatures in some states have taken up the issue of police reform. Should Illinois do the same? If so, what would that look like?
I believe that Illinois does need to take up the issue of some manner of police reform.
I have spoken with many of my Police Chiefs and they are reviewing their Use of Force Policies. I believe those are key to any effective police reform. Many of the reforms that are being considered, and I agree with, are already in place by statute. There just needs to be better accountability when it comes to implementation. According to the current statute, there is a ban on chokeholds, the requirement for expansion of police training, and I would recommend that training to include Implicit Bias Training, all police involved shootings require an independent investigation, and finally there shall be a database created which identifies all officers who have been fired or resigned due to misconduct. Additional reforms should include some amendments to the officer’s ability to turn off their Body Cams in certain situations. I believe these reforms, that are already state law, would greatly address police reform, but implementation is key. That State Law is 50 ILC706, and it was signed into law by Governor Rauner and became effective on January 1, 2016.
Should the Legislature pass a law requiring all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras? Why or why not?
Yes, I believe…