- Early Childhood Education: In order to prepare our children for a global workforce, it is critical that we invest in early childhood education—it is not simply enough to focus on K-12, but we must ensure that pre-K is accessible to all children. Research has found that a 30 million word gap exists between children on welfare and their more affluent peers—the number of words a child is exposed to from birth to age three is significantly correlated to lifetime academic success and overall IQ (See https://vocel.org to learn more). In Illinois we must do better with our investments in early childhood education—I will fight for our children.
- Government Transparency: It should be easier for residents to understand what government is doing, not harder. It is my goal to assess where Illinois can be better at information sharing in a way that all people can understand. One particular area of interest that I have is showing residents which companies in Illinois pay taxes and the rates at which they contribute to the revenue streams that Illinois has available for critical human services.
- Increase Voter Engagement: Including the voices of the people is critical to increasing voter turnout. Informing voters is a huge part of this process. As State Representative in the 25th District, I will work to engage voters in an authentic and intentional way to increase our participation in all election cycles, especially our primary elections process.
- Progressive Income Tax: This is also known as a graduated income tax, which is how our income is taxed at the Federal level. Currently, the Illinois Constitution enables a flat income tax—which means the poor and working class have the same tax rate as their far more affluent peers. It is time to bring equity to our income tax model—and I will stand up for the working families of Illinois to achieve this change to our state’s constitution.
- Fair Funding of Our Public Schools: SB 0001 was a great step in the right direction, but Rauner’s ruinous agenda left its mark on this historic piece of legislation—it is my goal to be sure that we take a hard look at Rauner’s amendments to this law and really make our public school funding equitable in Illinois.
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Legalize marijuana: The State of Colorado has realized nearly half a billion dollars of revenue for their state—on this issue, Illinois is far behind the plurality of states in America. Illinois can create thousands of jobs through the legalization of marijuana, from crop to shop—it’s time for Illinois to do better.
- Automatic Re-Sentencing: If Illinois lessens in severity any crime (for example the legalization of marijuana), it is our duty to ensure that folks within our criminal justice system have their sentences swiftly and fairly reduced in accordance with such changes to our criminal code. Illinois spends an exorbitant amount of money incarcerating people—just imagine what we can do with more funds available to invest in our communities instead of mass incarceration.
- Investing in Re-Entry Programming to Combat Recidivism: When people leave our criminal justice system, the odds are heavily stacked against them—most people end up back in our prisons. This must change. We must make it easier to stay out of prison, not a near-guarantee that folks end up back in the system. Barriers to employment, housing, voting, and human services contribute to recidivism, and it is time to take a hard look at how our state’s policies create a revolving door at our prisons instead of a viable exit.
- Pension Reform: There are modest reforms to our Pension Code that would give all governing bodies in Illinois the capacity to expand opportunities for apprentice and seasonal labor on capital projects. With an aging workforce, it is critical that government helps to grow the pipeline of skilled labor.
- Gun Violence as a Symptom NOT a stand-alone phenomenon: I have seen what disinvestment and inequity has done to our communities. Disinvestment and inequity in public policy is an act of war against communities of color and poor communities across Illinois. I know this to be true because disinvestment and inequity creates war zones. The wars our communities fight are wars against community violence, hopelessness and addiction. I will go to Springfield to FIGHT for our communities to ensure we are investing resources in our residents equitably to give everyone the chance to thrive instead of simply survive.
- Investing in our people: With revenues from a progressive income tax and the legalization of marijuana, we can transform lives in Illinois. Not only will we have more money available for our schools, and human services, but we can invest in the expansion of Medicare and Medicaid so that we can realize health care as a right instead of a privilege in Illinois. This is how we can protect our residents from the horrific Trump agenda.
- Investing in our Infrastructure: Ensuring the safety of our roads and bridges is not only the responsible thing to do, but it creates jobs. Using revenue created through innovative, progressive and bold solutions can ensure that our infrastructure continues to meet safety standards and the needs of the people.
- Protecting our Environment: With a Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that is doing a lot less protecting these days, it is incumbent upon the Illinois EPA to ensure we are protecting our own air, water and other natural resources from disastrous pollution. In order to do this, in order to resist Trump, we must make sure we are funding the Illinois EPA to step up when the Federal EPA will not.