We have an economic system that makes life harder for those who work hard to make ends meet. We need to find ways for the rich to pay their fair share of the costs of government, and to put more money in the pockets of everyday working people.
In West Central Illinois, jobs in factories and on farms have been disappearing for decades. These trends are likely to continue in the future as more jobs are lost to automation, especially in transportation and agriculture. Here is what we need to do:
- Support Local Businesses and invest in entrepreneurship. Small, family-owned businesses are the heart of our local economies and need to be protected and encouraged.
- Fair wages – There are people in West Central Illinois working two or more jobs who are still living near the poverty line. We need to raise the minimum wage, recognize the concerns of small businesses, and make sure that our first amendment right to organize for fair wages and safe working conditions is protected.
- Protect Working Families – Everyday working people need reasonable costs for childcare, healthcare and education, and for government to keep taxes low. In almost all of the counties in our district, the child poverty rate is significantly above the state average; this needs to change.
- Homestead Farming and Food Production – The most important natural resource in West Central Illinois is our good farm ground. We should be raising more of our own food and growing the number of food based businesses in our region. We should also be looking at a wide variety of alternative crops for commodity production.
Our #1 priority as Illinois adults and taxpayers should be to provide a quality education for all children in Illinois. Unfortunately, our schools have been damaged by years of inadequate and irregular funding, and an overreliance on property taxes.
- Fairly Fund K-12 – Schools in the 93rd district, on average, spend $3,000 less per student than the state average. Clearly, this needs to change. We need to fund education in such a way that all Illinois students have the resources they need to thrive.
- Restore Funding to Higher Education – Funding cuts are pushing our sons and daughters to other states for higher education or out of college altogether; 45% of Illinois high school grads attending 4-year schools are going out-of-state to school. We need to fully fund Illinois MAP grants that help students pay for college, and restore funding to community colleges and state universities.
- Pre-K – Research shows that children benefit from starting school at the age of 3. This early starts leads to higher rates of high school graduation and lower prison rates. Early childhood education is a sound investment that we need to make.
Illinois government is a mess. In Illinois, we are on the edge of a budgetary cliff and there are no easy answers. In the past three years our backlog of unpaid bills grew to over $16 Billion. Responsible governments pay their bills!
- Balanced Budgets – The Illinois constitution reads, “Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.” We need to follow that law every year.
- Root Out Waste and Corruption – Illinois suffers from a terrible reputation when it comes to waste and corruption in government. We have to ruthlessly weed it out wherever it exists.
- Support for Social Services – Key social services for vulnerable populations such as seniors, children and the disabled need to be maintained and funded.
- Long-Term Plan – Decades of irresponsible leadership on both sides of the aisle have created a terrible financial situation for our state. We need to have a long-term dedicated plan to dig ourselves out.