Excluded from debate, third-party gubernatorial candidates sound off on the issues

ILLINOIS (IRN) — They weren’t included in Wednesday’s televised gubernatorial debate, but they are on the ballot and have ideas on how to fix the state’s  problems.

Libertarian Kash Jackson said ABC 7 Chicago’s decision not to include him or Conservative Party candidate Sam McCann in the debate was a disservice to voters. McCann said if someone is able to overcome the high thresholds for third-party ballot access – as he and Jackson have – they should be included in debates.

The ABC7 debate in conjunction with the League of Women Voters had a media polling threshold for participants of 10 percent, which neither Jackson, who lives in Lake County, or McCann, who lives in Plainview, achieved.

In separate phone interviews with Illinois News Network, they both sounded off on some key issues facing Illinois.

Jackson said the state needs to usher in consolidation of school administrative functions and cut local government funds from the state budget. He is also open to taxing some services, but only if there’s a property tax cap of 1 percent, and two-thirds support via referendum for any increase in property tax rates.

“That would be the caveat, that would be the only way that I could entertain taxing any types of goods and services,” Jackson said. “We have to get something good on our end before doing that.”

McCann said the state needs to do zero-based budgeting.

“Most people who run their households, and most people who run their small, medium, and large businesses, they start out saying ‘how much can we get by with spending this year,’ not ‘how much more can we spend,’ ” McCann said.

On pensions, McCann said he opposes changing the state constitution to diminish benefits or shifting state employees to self-managed plans. Instead, he wants a new payment schedule, and to legally block policymakers from the ballot if they support budgets that don’t make required pension payments.

“It protects the annuitants, it protects the people, it honors the constitution and it finally fixes the problem,” McCann said.

Jackson said there needs to be big cuts to make big payments to pensions to honor what’s been promised. However, he said the pension protection clause must be amended.

“It can be written in black and white all day long on that constitution, but if we have to start selling police equipment and start laying people off to fund pensions, well then we’re cutting off our nose to spite our face,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the writing is on the wall that Illinois is practically bankrupt and something is going to have to give somewhere.

Both McCann and Jackson will appear on next month’s ballot with Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrat J.B. Pritzker.

On budgeting, Pritzker has been pushing for changing the state constitution’s flat income tax to allow for a progressive structure. While he says the structure would tax the wealthy more and reduce income taxes on the middle class, he has not provided any rates.

Pritzker also wants to increase payments to pensions and re-amortize the pension debt. He opposes changing the constitution to amend the pension-protection clause.

Rauner opposes the progressive tax and says he wants to reduce the existing flat income tax of 4.95 percent to 3 percent over time. On pensions, Rauner said he supports moving future state employees to self-managed plans while providing current employees an option to get out of government-controlled pension funds.

The election is Nov. 6.