Quality, publicly funded education- from early childhood through college- must be the foundation on which Illinois’ balanced budget and future economic growth is built. Governor Rauner and Speaker Madigan have let their personal battles hold our children hostage and too many of our current State Senators have been complicit in this process. I’m running for State Senate because it’s wrong for Illinois government to divert resources away from education and local services in favor of less worthy, for-profit interests.

Having served on my local school board, I know how important it is that we establish a fair, sustainable funding model for K-12 education that provides permanent relief to homeowners by overhauling the property tax system and shifting a larger share of this responsibility to the State of Illinois. Homeowners should not have to choose between affordable property taxes and quality neighborhood schools. We deserve to have both. By prioritizing investment in education at the state level we can begin to build a fair economy in Illinois.

The high cost of state universities and the recent devastating cuts to public colleges have caused large numbers of talented young people like my own son to either leave Illinois to pursue opportunity, or to skip higher education altogether. My daughter has put off pursuing a master’s degree because she just couldn’t justify taking on even more tuition debt. Parents and students find themselves owing large amounts of college debt to private banks for decades to come while all homeowners are shouldering increasing property tax burdens in order to barely maintain their local public schools. This is no way to build a viable economic future for our state or to assure that Illinois is attractive to businesses.

I support a living wage for all who labor to support themselves or their families. 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.

Our current tax structure in Illinois is unfair. I support changing our state constitution to implement a graduated income tax in which the very wealthy pay their fair share. The ongoing budget challenges in Springfield present us with an opportunity to re-invent our dysfunctional tax system and reprioritize our spending by putting the people of our state (our most valuable resource) first. I want to represent you and be your spokesperson in this conversation as we reimagine and shape the future of Illinois.