State Senate GOP Dist. 50 candidate vows to take on tough issues
GOP candidate Bryce Benton, who is running for the Illinois Senate District 50 seat, knows there are many complicated issues right now in the Land of Lincoln, and he said he's ready to solve them.
“Illinois is at a critical time in its history," Benton said during a recent press conference. "We’ve got a lot of really tough, pressing issues that too many people don’t seem to be willing to want to tackle head on. I think I’ve spent my career going straight at such problems rather than avoiding them. I want to help make this state a place where we can be proud to live now and for the future. We need more honest people in the legislature to make this happen."
Benton, who has garnered endorsements from Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, said he is one of these honest people.
Calling himself part of a new generation of public servants dedicated to getting the state growing again, Benton said term limits must be a priority because career politicians have run Illinois into the ground.
“The only way we’ll move forward is if the career politicians are thrown out, and that means term limits," Benton said. "It’s time to end the corruption and self-serving greed of the political class, who looks out for their cronies and not the taxpayer."
Originally from Taylorville and currently a Springfield resident, Benton, 33, played baseball at Lincoln Land Community College before going on to earn an economics degree from Illinois State University. Benton has been an Illinois State Police trooper since 2010.
“Making a difference in the world is a great feeling, which is why I’ve decided to run for the Senate," Benton, who was elected last year to Prairie Capital Convention Center’s board, said. "I truly enjoy serving people."
Benton said he supports much of what Rauner is trying to do regarding fiscal responsibility.
“I think tort reform, workers' comp reform and property tax relief are foundations of the Republican platform, but we’ve gotten to a place where small businesses … don’t feel welcome in the state right now," Benton said. "I don’t agree with everything (Rauner) is doing, but for too long, we’ve had legislators who haven’t wanted to take these problems head on, and he’s someone who is at least trying."
While Benton said he would represent state workers in the Capitol, he also said he’d keep the demands of labor unions in check.
“As a state employee, it’s absolutely critical to have collective bargaining," Benton said. "I work every day with people who are nervous about where the state is headed, and I agree. I think that we’re in a tough spot, but I also agree that we have to do something, and I think that’s where a lot of people in this district disagree with the current senator. There are a lot of taxpayers in this district who expect us to be good stewards of their tax dollars, and they want to move toward fiscal responsibility."
Additionally, Benton said removing the governor from collective bargaining would be the wrong move.
“We have to let him do what he was elected to do," Benton said. "To put that power in the hands of an arbiter who isn’t accountable to anyone and has that much power over the budget would not be a smart thing to do in Illinois."
Specifically, while Benton favors collective bargaining, he also thinks local governments should have the option to do what they need to do in their respective localities.
“State oversight only creates a situation where you’re handcuffing people from helping their local residents," Benton said. "Collective bargaining doesn’t have to have free rein. You can stand up for state workers and public-sector union members, and not have to bow down to every demand of big labor. I think that’s what our current senator has forgotten, and I think people in the district deserve better than that."
As for the state’s budget issues, Benton said he has a unique perspective on it from both his economics background and from some of his limited current procurement work.
“I don’t claim to know everything about what we need to cut, but I do know the people who know what needs to be cut," Benton said. "There are a lot of smart people in state government in every agency who see the inefficiencies every day because they deal with them just like I do."
Benton said there’s a problem with how the state does business and that part of the solution is considering how to simplify it by doing things the way businesses and other states do to keep costs low, such as putting out contracts for bid and reforming tax laws.
Benton also said it’s absolutely crucial for state lawmakers to get back to the table to settle the budget impasse.
“We’ve been too long without one," Benton said.
Benton said the state is basically spending $5 billion more than what it is taking in.
“It doesn’t take an economist to know that this can’t continue," Benton said. "We have to work on a budget. I live six minutes from the Capitol, so I would definitely be there every day working with legislators, working with the governor to continue to solve the problems we have in this state,” Benton said.
Benton suggested putting a freeze on property taxes and reforming workers' compensation to encourage strong small-business growth and help stem the exodus of residents moving out of the state.
“We’re losing that tax base, and that’s not conducive to where we need to be in this state," Benton said. "As a candidate, you have to absolutely listen to what the constituents want, and I plan to do that,” Benton said.
In the March 15 Republican primary, Benton faces GOP incumbent State Sen. William “Sam” McCann, who has held his seat since 2011. There is no Democratic candidate. The general election will be held Nov. 8.