Born June 29, 1957, in Chicago, State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, was raised and educated in Rockford, where he and his wife of 28 years, Shirley, raised their two children.
Syverson currently serves in the role as assistant Republican leader in the Illinois Senate as well as the Republican spokesman for the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. He also serves on the Senate Budget, Public Health and Insurance committees, as well as the bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability and the Governor’s Council on Health and Physical Fitness.
Syverson is a member of all of the area’s chambers of commerce, the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, the DeKalb Area Economic Development Council, the Rockford Machine Tool Association, National the Federation of Independent Business, the National Association of Financial Planners, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), and serves on the Reformers Unanimous International Advisory Board.
NIU Today recently had the opportunity to interview Syverson on topics ranging from education to pension reform.
Q: What are the priorities during this legislative session?
A: My priorities this session have been the same as they have been the last 10 years: to get the state to address the pension issue, to get the state to live within its means from a budgetary standpoint and to improve the Illinois job climate.
Q: How do you hope to accomplish or help accomplish these priorities?
A: Getting these issues accomplished has been a difficult task; however, for the last six months, the public, the media and most legislators are starting to understand the consequences of their failure to address these issues. They are finally realizing that failure to address the pension issue is now resulting in 90 percent of all new revenue coming into the state having to go to pension payments. The governor and the legislative leaders are also realizing the results of spending more than you take in every year, as the states bond rating has reduced to the worse in the nation, and the backlog of unpaid bills is at record levels.
Q: Illinois has a serious pension deficit. What steps will you and the Illinois General Assembly take to address the problem responsibly?
A: If the state had addressed the pension problem 10 years ago, as many of us urged, “the fix” would’ve been significantly less painful than what it will take today. And if we don’t address this year the fix will become even more painful next year. There are many options being discussed. I am not married to anyone in particular as long as it is fair and can hold up in court.
Q: Higher education funding is crucial to students. How will you balance fiscal responsibility and college MAP grants alongside ensuring college affordability?
A: For our country to remain as a world leader in the economy, it is crucial that we have the best higher education systems in the world. While our state leaders talk about how important higher education is, their actions shown by the budgets they have passed tells a different story. In real dollars, not adjusted by inflation, Illinois is spending less on higher education then we did 10 years. As a result of their actions, tuition has increased faster than ever before, deferred maintenance at universities is an all-time high and many programs at our universities have suffered. While the financial solution to the funding problems at our universities is simple, the fix is more difficult. We are spending $10 billion more in this year’s proposed budget than we did just five years ago yet less on higher education. Is it about money or is it about priorities?
Q: What do you love most about the district you represent?
A: The district I am blessed to represent is the best in the state. We have incredible education, from our K- 12 to our flagship university. We have affordable housing and room for families to grow. From a transportation system, we are not only the hub of the state but of the nation. From a quality-of-life standpoint, we have incredible parks to world-class health care. For jobs, we go from agriculture to high-tech manufacturing, For the district residents, you won’t find more generous kindhearted, hard-working people anywhere in the country.
by Isaac Palma