Republican candidates for the seat in the state House from the 74th District largely agreed on the problems facing the state during a candidate forum Thursday, Feb. 25,  at Carl Sandburg College.

Mike DeSutter of Woodhull, Wayne Saline of Rio, and Daniel Swanson of Alpha came together for the 90-minute forum sponsored by The Register-Mail and CSC.

The winner in the primary will face Democrat Bill Butts of Galesburg.

All three candidates believe the job should not be a career and all promised to abide by self-imposed term limits.

"I'm not looking at a second or third career," Swanson, who is retired from the military, said. "I support term limits."

Saline, who served on the Knox Couny  Board for 11 years said his limit would be three terms.

DeSutter agreed on term limits, saying, "I'm running to serve my community."

The candidates were asked what they would do to try to break up the budget impasse in Springfield.

"We need to get this budget passed immediately," DeSutter said. "I believe all the legislators should be involved in the process, not just the four tops (leaders) and the governor."

He noted that with the impasse now at eight months, the legislature will soon need to pass a two-year spending plan.

"We need to get a budget passed, sooner rather than later," Saline agreed.

He said Democrats need to sit down with the GOP.

"We need to make them understand changes must be made," Saline said. "People need to sit down in a room and have an open and honest discussion."

"Can I work with Democrats? I've worked with a lot of folks. I have Democrat friends," Swanson said.

"I married a Democrat," DeSutter said, to laughter from the about 150 in attendance at the Crist Student Center. He added she is now a Republican.

"Everyone's got to give a little bit, but we've got to cross the aisle," he said. "We've got to go down there and work with each other."

Breaking up the Democrat's super-majority was also a topic of agreement.

"We have to get more Republicans in Springfield," Swanson said.

Many of the state's problems were laid at the feet of Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The candidates feel the state has too many regulations, which cause businesses to leave and keep new ones from locating here.

"The number one thing we need to do is evaluate all the regulations we have in place in Illinois ... and eliminate the ones that are causing the most problems," Saline said.

"Regulations are what's killing bring jobs into the state," Swanson agreed, talking about how many jobs have left and the state's declining population.

"Why did all these jobs leave? Why did these individuals leave? Because we tax them too much," Swanson said.

"If we grow jobs we can grow revenue and grow ourselves out of this mess," DeSutter said.

As for the state's pension problem, all felt a commitment to present state workers must be honored, but new employees need new options, such as 401 (k) plans.

A proposed property tax freeze has been discussed in Springfield.

Saline said he supports the property tax freeze "at this time because property taxes are getting out of hand."

He added that local education decisions should be made locally and there should be means testing with more state education money going to schools  that need it most, not richer collar counties.

"I would support the freeze ... for two years," Swanson said. "But the state needs to live up to its obligations."

DeSutter also agreed property taxes are out of hand. He and the other two candidates said unfunded mandates are a reason property taxes are so high.

"I believe in local control," he said. "From the state level, we need to hand down less mandates."

Getting back to education funding, DeSutter suggested another option.

"I think that in some cases the schools that are not adequate, I'd be for the money to follow the kids, not the school in the district in which they live."

There was universal support for more vocational training, both by starting it earlier and by getting private businesses involved.

Other topics included having community colleges work with each other to cut costs, although the candidates agreed the state needs to keep up its part of the bargain.

Swanson cited Black Hawk East in Kewanee as an example of a college that is on the right path, with one track for agriculture students who plan to go back to the farm after two years at BHE, as well as a track for students planning to attend a four-year university.

"We're going to have to be more focuses and specialized to meet students' needs," he said.

Of course the governor's turnaround agenda is a big topic in the state. The candidates were asked if there were items in it they would be willing to compromise on to get a budget passed.

"The only thing I would be willing to compromise on right now is the collective bargaining," Saline said. He said it needs to be addressed, but he'd be willing to put it off a few years if it would bring about a budget.

Swanson said term limits are non-negotiable and pension reform is a must.

"Personally, I think we just charge on," he said.

"I think overall all of his policies have merit to them," DeSutter said. "I'm willing to give Gov. Rauner a chance."

Workers' compensation reform is needed, the candidates said, and all support the idea of fair redistricting.

As for eliminating township government, the consensus was townships should have the option of cooperating with each other, but the cost would be burdensome to counties if townships were eliminated.

The candidates fielded questions from Marty Hobe and Ben Zigterman of The Register-Mail and Seairra Sheppard, a CSC freshman majoring in journalism.