Robyn Gabel is currently running on the Democratic ticket for reelection to her second term as State Representative of Illinois’ 18th District. She won unopposed in the 2009 running against Republican challenger Eric Lieberman.
Incumbent Illinois State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-18) acknowledges that the state is going through a tough financial stretch but said she likes to keep her head up while figuring out how to best fix the problem.
“I’m a realist, but I’m also an optimist,” says the Evanston resident. “So I recognize that we are in difficult financial times right now, but I also think that we have a great state and that our state has many, many strengths.”
Gabel states on her website that “creating jobs for working families is the most important issue facing Illinois today”. One of the ways she wants to provide opportunities is by “[making] sure we focus on the strengths of the Illinois economy for the next generation and not the previous one.”
Some of the strengths, said Gabel, lie in international trade, innovation and manufacturing.
“I think we need to do everything we can to help innovators. To give small, low-cost loans to innovation and small businesses,” Gabel said. “I think that manufacturing is still a fairly big part of our economy. But the way that people are looking at manufacturing now is more technological manufacturing, so using more computers and computer techniques to do this kind of manufacturing, which people can be trained for.”
Gabel said that using Illinois’ position as a national crossroads could be beneficial to building businesses around connecting large, regional energy grids.
She also mentioned cutting red tape and creating a small business assistance office or center as important catalysts toward job creation,
But focusing only on creating jobs won’t solve all of the state’s financial problems, Gabel said, because in addition to shrinking government revenues, state expenditures have risen.
Gabel pointed to her record of making tough cuts in the past in an attempt to curb the pressures brought on by skyrocketing Medicaid and pension costs.
Gabel said she cut Medicaid dental services, prescription drug programs and other health coverage, in addition to ramping up fraud detection for the program.
“We made some hard decisions and we cut some optional programs that were not easy to do,” Gabel said. “I have taken it very seriously to balance the budget.”
“The bulk of the state budget, a third is education,” Gabel continued, “half is human services and health care, and then the remaining is public safety and a little bit in a number of different areas. When we look at that we don’t have enough money in the budget, as we put billions of dollars more into the pension payment, that means that we have to reduce education and human services and health care even more. So that’s the budget situation.”
More to Consider
Though job creation and state budget woes are some of Gabel’s chief concerns, during her interview with Patch, she spoke about several other issues requiring government attention.
She wants to advance the relationship between high schools and junior colleges statewide, allowing teens to take course for college credit and ensuring Illinois children have access to higher education.
She called for the state to examine expanding its renewable energy portfolio, possibly by helping bring in more wind turbines.
She aims to implement a health care exchange that would act as a “marketplace where people can go and compare apples with apples and oranges with oranges to see what kind of health care coverage they’re getting for what price.”
Gabel flat-out denies her opponent Eric Lieberman’s accusations that she won’t stand up to political cronyism or corruption, pointing to the fact that voted to oust Illinois State Rep. Derrick Smith after he was accused of taking a bribe.
“I think that things are going to get better,” Gabel said, “and I, for one, am serious about correcting our fiscal problems and moving forward.”
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