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Education: Notre Dame (B.A. 1969); Loyola University Chicago Law School (J.D. 1973).
Professional Background: Attorney since 1973, with own law office in Chicago for last 23 years; previously an Assistant Public Defender, law clerk for a federal judge in Chicago, an Assistant Illinois Attorney General in the Environmental Control Division, and a partner in a large Chicago law firm.
Community Involvement: Evanston Alderman (1991-2009); Evanston Recreation Board (1988-91, president in 1990); Member, Evanston Flood and Pollution Control Board; Chair Evanston negotiating committee with Commonwealth Edison; Board of Governors, Loyola University School of Law Alumni Association (1989-94); President, Evanston Youth Hockey Association (5 years).
Edmund B. Moran Jr. served on the Evanston City Council for 18 years. After retiring this past spring, he says he found that he “missed the public policy discussion, and started thinking that maybe there’s another outlet.” What finally led him to enter the race “was the University of Illinois admissions scandal – the rising anger at the notion that our state just wasn’t being run well at all, or honestly or openly,” he says.
Distinguishing Factors: “Experience,” Mr. Moran says immediately when asked what distinguishes him from the field. “There’s a significant difference between being an advocate and being a legislator.” Legislating is “a more complicated and subtle process than advocating for a cause or issue,” he says, adding, “Also … I think in all respects I have more life experience – which might just be another way of saying I’m older than everybody else.”
Signature Issue: Mr. Moran considers the state budget to be his signature issue, citing news reports that called Illinois a close second to California in fiscal distress. “What I’ve been telling people is that if the state doesn’t figure out how to get its financial house in order, all these other issues will become moot. … You can’t move forward on any front if you don’t have resources. …” he continues. “I’m terribly afraid that it will get so bad that the state will just crater. … We’ve got to figure out a different way of going about this stuff,” he says.
Small-business development is important for the overall economic health of the state, says Mr. Moran, “but it’s also important in terms of jobs, because if you have a positive small business development model to work from, the jobs will be there.” He says he would work to make sure that entrepreneurial activity is encouraged and ultimately rewarded, as a way to expand the job base.
State Budget: Mr. Moran would start the budget process from scratch. “One of my ideas is to really almost get to sort of a zero-based budget approach … Treat it as if you were at day one: ‘What are we spending on it? Is this important to the welfare of the state?’ Then get rid of stuff that the state shouldn’t be doing.” Mr. Moran mentions the prison in Thompson, which he said must have cost “a heck of a lot” to build, and yet according to news reports, sits nearly empty. Nevertheless, “at least one candidate says there’s absolutely nothing to cut,” he says. He adds that he would get rid of the general assembly scholarships, calling them classic earmarks frequently used for the family or a supporter’s family.
Despite the budget deficit, Mr. Moran will not commit outright to an income tax increase: “[L]oading up on tax increases would be a real mistake. … Any government that votes a potential 60 percent or two-thirds increase in a tax is not really watching out for its citizens,” he says. Only after cutting as much as possible would he consider a tax increase, and then a lesser increase than has been proposed, he says. He supports a constitutional amendment to allow for graduated tax rates. “[I]t’s something that should be done,” he concludes.
Public Transit: On public transit, Mr. Moran believes in “making public transit more user-friendly.” He supports making what works, like Metra, more attractive. But he would look at cutting underused bus routes. “I look at busses that go up and down Central Street here and other street here in town, and there may be two people on a big bus. … Can we make it better – and if there’s no adaptation that can make it better, [can we] start thinking about channeling some transportation funding to different arenas?” he says.
Corruption: Corruption should be addressed by the legislature itself, says Mr. Moran. “[C]orruption is tolerated even by people who are not corrupt,” he says. If legislators continue to engage in corrupt practices, and their colleagues are no longer “considered … a good old boy by not telling on” corrupt legislators, and if the House would say, “We’re not going to do that, we won’t tolerate it if you do that, you’re going to get called out,” corruption will be limited, he says. Outside enforcement helps, Mr. Moran says, but “I’ve seen decades go by where people in government get indicted and go to jail. Has it really changed things? My impression is that it hasn’t.” Reform must start among people who are doing the work, Mr. Moran concludes.
Health Care: State action will key off of federal health care decisions, says Mr. Moran. He can best be described as skeptical of the federal plan. “Some pretty smart people involved with health care delivery are concerned about what’s being proposed. … If they do this and get it wrong instead of right, there’s going to be heck to pay,” he says. “I agree with the people who say that it’s scandalous that the richest nation in the world is doing a very substandard job of making sure its citizenry is as healthy as it can be with a sound health-care delivery system,” he says.
Mr. Moran’s concern extends to fears of a Canadian-style system. He cites anecdotal evidence that “Canadians come to the U.S. for their health care because with the national health care system that they have there now, they’ve gotten down to rationing. …”
Education: Education is “one of the things that needs the most attention, that I would want to work on,” Mr. Moran says. “The funding level is scandalous, and you keep reading these things that say that Illinois is somewhere between 47th and 49th in terms of funding levels from the state to education systems,” he adds. Mr. Moran would try to strike a balance between getting money to underserved areas, such as East St. Louis, and allowing other areas, such as the 18th District, to decide to fund their local systems more generously. The financial allocation in underserved areas is “scandalous,” he says, but it is “tricky, very tough” to balance local desires against a state-wide balance.
Environment: “[W]ater is incredibly important,” says Mr. Moran. “I was in the Attorney General’s office doing environmental enforcement cases for several years, and the plain fact of the matter is what happened to Illinois water, land and air regulation enforcement is – well, they’re more forgiving. You’ve got to tighten up those regulations. You can make a difference. It probably won’t be overnight,” he says.
Pension Funding: Mr. Moran says several things can be done about the pension liability. He would give strong consideration to a two-tiered system. “You would have to sit down with the unions and say, ‘Here’s the panorama: I know what you want, and I would like to give it to you, but this is what you can expect to happen,’” he says. He would encourage all parties to sit down and figure out a solution, because “if modifications are not made, the system will crater; the social contract will be violated and that’s not right. … I see the thing eventually cratering, especially with a $12 billion budget hole,” he concludes.