Our state’s economy must be grown from the bottom up, built on a foundation comprised of a strong educational system and dependable infrastructure. Prioritizing investment in these areas will attract business to our state and make our communities more livable for their employees.
We must end the culture of corporate tax breaks and giveaways. A system in which government services and largesse are targeted to benefit the wealthy and corporate interests is unfair to small businesses and entrepreneurs. We must ensure that the economic landscape is one that is fair to all who want to compete and that government doesn’t tip the scales to favor those with more wealth and power. Government should support businesses not by spending to artificially grow profits, but by investing to grow PEOPLE through education and worker training.
I support a living wage for all who labor to support themselves or their families. When employers are allowed to depress wages, their employees must rely on taxpayer- funded subsidies like Medicaid and food stamps. It is wrong for taxpayers to be expected to subsidize companies who fail to pay their employees a living wage.
As a school board member and a union member, I’ve sat on both sides of labor negotiations. It is the duty of elected officials to represent taxpayers vigorously just as it is the right of unions to do the same on behalf of workers. It is through this process that fair contracts are reached when citizens and workers hold their officials accountable. Depressing wages or restricting the rights of workers to organize and bargain is un-democratic and results in a worse quality of life for all.
Illinois is not broke. There are many in our state, like our own Governor who have accumulated massive wealth in our current system. It is these people and the interests they represent who would like to protect this unfair system of taxation. I will work to fix it. We are one of only a handful of states still using a flat income tax and it is not suited to a modern economy. We must change our state constitution to allow for a graduated income tax that requires the ultra-wealthy to pay their fair share. Local services and education are largely financed through regressive sales taxes, like the new soda tax in Cook County, and a broken property tax system. Both are an unfair burden on working families and our seniors because the wealthiest property owners exploit the corrupt system to their advantage.
The funding of public education, Pre-K through college, must be our top priority in building the future of Illinois. Every child in the state deserves access to quality education and our system for financing it must be equitable across the state. A child’s opportunities should not be dictated by her zip code. We can achieve this while providing homeowners with property tax relief as we identify more sustainable, equitable revenue for education.
The high cost of state universities and the recent devastating cuts to public colleges have caused large numbers of talented young people to either leave Illinois to pursue opportunity, or to skip higher education altogether. Gone are the days when one can afford to work their way through college. Illinois, with its many institutions of higher learning, should be a central hub of research and innovation. We’ve allowed our public universities to be privatized because we have failed to invest in them and have not held their trustees accountable when they’ve turned to private interests for alternative sources of investment. Community colleges must be affordable to all students.
Assuring that all our citizens have ongoing access to quality health care is important to the well-being of our state. We must be focused both on eliminating disparities and identifying services that are unique to certain segments of our population. There are over 2.5 million women in Illinois who are of child bearing age and more than 150,000 children are born every year. Among other services, women in our state should have access to screening for breast and cervical cancers, pre/post-natal care, family planning, and teen pregnancy prevention. Women generally live longer than men and require screening and care for other conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis and depression, which affect them differently than men.