When I am out knocking on doors and talking to area constituents, the same two things are constantly brought up: taxes and corruption. Living with one of the highest overall tax burdens weighs heavily on our communities. People want to see spending reductions and responsibly balanced budgets. The only way to keep residents and businesses from fleeing this state is to reduce their overall tax burden, remove overly burdensome regulations, and create a pathway to financially reform the state to allow for business growth and development. This will diversify our tax base and allow it to grow so we can provide essential services.
I prefer going to the polls and voting in person, but I support vote by mail for anyone who chooses to exercise their right to vote by this method or through in-person early voting. Even before the vote by mail expansion was signed by the Governor for the 2020 general election, every registered Illinois voter already had the right to vote by mail or vote early in-person without requiring an explanation. Voters do, and should, have the right to exercise their constitutional right to vote by whichever of these methods they feel is best.
It is our duty to protect this planet for future generations, and the legislature can implement safeguards to ensure we have safe and clean water, land, and air. I will support legislation to keep our communities safe and support clean energy technology.
I believe finally instituting an independently drawn fair maps redistricting process will have the greatest impact on curbing the corruption that has plagued our state for far too long. Putting accountability back into the voter’s hands, and no longer allowing elected officials to choose their own voters is essential. I have advocated for this in the past and will work with any willing member of the General Assembly to make this a reality.
Crippling property taxes that are forcing people out of their homes is the number one problem I hear about when I speak to residents. My own friends and family have left Illinois because of it. If we want to address this problem, numerous options must be on the table for the state to fulfill its obligation to provide the majority of K-12 education funding. A critical component has to be pension reform. Each year, unfunded pension liability eats up more and more of the state’s General Revenue Fund, more than 20% now, without getting this under control the state will never be able to adequately increase its funding for education, or other essential services, to dramatically reduce crippling property taxes.
First, the General Assembly must stop passing budgets that sweep funds from the Firearms Services Fund that are supposed to be dedicated to the review and processing of background checks, FOID and CCL’s. The sweeping of more than $30 million meant for ISP staffing and the processing of background checks have not only caused massive delays in violation of the law, but have made it easier for those who should not have a firearm to slip through the cracks. Second, we must address illegal straw purchasing offenders. In 2018, more than 5,000 guns used in Illinois crimes came from illegal straw purchases in other states with numerous repeat offenders.
It is going to take years for the state to fully recover from the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. We need independent leaders who are willing to put partisan games aside. As we move forward, it is important to build off past successes, such as the bipartisan budget passed in Fiscal Year 2020, as a blueprint for our state. We must be thoughtful as we look at areas we can reduce spending. Tough choices will have to be made, and any cuts need to be made with a scalpel and not a sledgehammer. Efficiencies may be gained by the consolidation of government programs and services; however, we must prioritize programs that support our most vulnerable—especially as so many in our community face economic uncertainty.
Voting by mail is a vital service, especially to those who are most vulnerable. It provides a safe alternative, particularly during the pandemic. I am open to the expansion of vote by mail, but am hesitant to support a system that completely eliminates in-person voting. Voters should have the choice.
We must protect our air, land, and water to ensure that our future generations will have a sustainable planet and hold bad-faith actors who pollute our community accountable. We need to continue to work toward passing policy that will make Illinois a national leader in creating a healthier future for our planet, while creating clean energy and green jobs. I support investment in clean energy programs and jobs that reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. I am sponsoring the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which will create tens of thousands of new green jobs and put Illinois on a path to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050.
I am a sponsor of Fair Maps legislation. I believe that voters should pick their politicians—not the other way around. However, it is vital that any conversation about redistricting reform starts with ensuring that minority voters and voices are not disenfranchised or marginalized.
As a former teacher, ensuring that families in my district continue to have access to high-quality education is one of my highest priorities. Many families choose to live in our community because of the strength of our public schools. We must continue to provide the resources our schools need to train and retain quality educators and to help students in Illinois reach their fullest potential.In recent years, the state has taken steps forward by increasing funding for local schools through the Evidence-based Funding formula, but more work remains. We need to examine ways to consolidate and streamline local government services to reduce the tax burden that is placed on homeowners. Additionally, we need to look at tightening up TIF laws to ensure local advisory boards have a stronger voice in the decision-making process.
I was deeply affected by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and inspired by the students who rallied for change. When the conversation shifted to teachers carrying firearms in the classroom I knew there had to be a better way. The pleas from our youth were one of the major factors that influenced my decision to run for office. I support common-sense gun legislation such as closing the gun show loophole, requiring background checks for gun purchases, and the Fix the FOID act.