Cost of Living Increases/Education
As we continue to live in the COVID-19 pandemic, in Springfield I am working to ensure families have access to the resources they need to remain financially stable and healthy. To help families meet growing expenses, I have worked hard with my colleagues to increase the minimum wage, which puts upward pressure on all wages. I have voted to increase the affordability of high quality child care, to get more families back to work and provide a safe and enriching environment for young minds and bodies to grow. I have voted to make education more equitable and affordable at all levels, supporting the Evidence Based Funding model for K-12 schools and increased access to MAP grants for new and non-traditional higher ed students. Access to quality education will give people the resources they need to attain better paying jobs and more self-sufficiency.
While no one likes the inconvenience of road construction, I know our state's renewed investment in our vast, but aging infrastructure will be a good return on our taxpayer's investment. Illinois is the hub for trains, planes, and trucks moving across the midwest. Our investments will strengthen the national supply chain which helps to mitigate the increasing cost of moving goods and people. New infrastructure will not only lead to safer roads, but increased biking and walking paths are good for our physical health, our mental health, and reduced pollution improves our home communities.
Property Tax Increases
Increases in property taxes make it harder for our families and senior citizens to remain in their own homes and is the biggest concern I hear house to house. I have voted on many bills that would attempt to slow that growth and also raise the senior citizen exemption to help provide relief. As the state regains financial footing, more can and should be done to stabilize the often sharp and unpredictable burden of property taxes.
Crime and Gun Violence
I know my residents are saddened by stories of violence coming from the City of Chicago. They are concerned about the safety of visiting the city and worried that violence could migrate out to our communities. Many neighbors have been alarmed at the inflammatory words and protests stemming from the tumultuous last few years. To address these concerns head on I am proud to have supported a budget which supports law enforcement by funding for a new cadet class at the Illinois State Police and a $10.3 million increase to the Law Enforcement Training Standards Board for basic and in-service training requirements, including a focus on crisis intervention training for new and current officers. The budget also provides $2 million at the State Police for officer worn body cameras and another $3.4 million for local government camera grants. This budget also invested $128 million in violence prevention and youth employment programs, directing $250 million total in state and federal resources specifically into communities that need it the most.
Gun violence is a public health crisis. I have taken key votes to strengthen our firearm restraining order law to ensure those who are a danger to themselves or others can get the help they need. I have voted to expand universal background checks while also investing in mental health funding. Illinois will use the new Public Safety and Violence Prevention Taskforce to further explore how we can best protect our residents.
Addressing Climate Change
I believe Illinois should be a leader in the competitive renewable energy market and our workforce should be positioned to enter these jobs of the future. I am proud to have passed landmark legislation to address the present and dire issue of climate change by increasing investment in renewable energy sources and clean jobs, setting a deadline for carbon-free emissions, and keeping state nuclear power plants open. This new legislation will not only ensure that Illinois increases the amount of good-paying jobs available to citizens, but also make Illinois a national model for clean energy.
Healthcare affordability and access is critical to well being. I have voted to increase access to Medicaid, while pushing to expand the use of telehealth services and keep drug prices lower, ensuring that anyone, regardless of income, has access to the healthcare they need.
Reproductive Health Care
As we continue to see Reproductive health care and women’s rights under attack at the national level, as well as in Texas, Mississippi, and other states, we have worked hard in Illinois to ensure that any woman will have access to the health care they need. I supported the Reproductive Health Act to ensure that no matter what happens federally, women will continue to have access to the reproductive health care they need. This past session, we also passed several bills to ensure access to menstrual hygiene products by requiring them in public bathrooms, as well as allowing menstrual hygiene products to be paid for with SNAP benefits. I was also Chief Co-Sponsor on a bill to allow women to safely receive certain types of birth control directly from a pharmacist. Increased access and affordability is critical to ensuring women are consistently in control of managing their reproductive health.