In Illinois, our public schools rely too heavily on property taxes for their funding, placing a heavy tax burden on property owners. As a former educator, I understand the importance of a quality public education. In the State Senate, I will fight not only for more state funding for public schools, but also for a complete overhaul of public education funding in Illinois. I support legislation like HB750 that will fund public schools through the state income tax instead of property taxes, which is a more equitable funding formula.
Too many hard working families in Illinois struggle to pay skyrocketing hospital bills and out of control prescription drug costs. I will work to expand access to quality affordable health insurance for the thousands of men, women, and children in Illinois that lack adequate coverage. I support existing state programs such as Kid Care, Family Care, and Veterans Care that seek to expand access to quality health care.
In the last two decades thousands of good paying high skilled jobs have left the region with the closing of the Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul and several factories in Danville, leaving a devastating effect on the economies of towns throughout the 52nd District. In the State Senate I will seek to bring high wage jobs with good benefits to the district by creating an attractive business climate and encouraging economic development in East Central Illinois.
I am the first person in my family to attend university, so I am a strong believer in the transformative power of higher education. I understand that the University of Illinois, Parkland College, and Danville Area Community College are not just places of higher learning, but also engines of economic opportunity that benefit all of East Central Illinois by training a highly skilled workforce. In the State Senate I will be a strong advocate for increased funding for higher education, which would reduce the need for future tuition increases and ensure that a college education is an affordable option for hard working students.
My values were shaped in the small farming community of Gifford (population 800) where I grew up, thus I have seen firsthand the importance of agriculture in the 52nd District. In Springfield I will make sure that the state does not overlook the interests of small family farmers, who are often neglected in favor of big agribusiness. I will push for stronger state incentives to increase production of biofuels and work to expand international markets for Illinois agricultural products like corn and soybeans.
As Vice Chair of the Champaign County Board and as Champaign County Auditor I have earned a reputation as a budget hawk and fiscal watchdog. If elected, I will bring the same approach to the Illinois General Assembly and the state budget. The state must cut waste and keep spending under control. Hard working families struggle every day to balance household budgets and pay their bills on time, the state should establish priorities and do the same. Doctors and hospitals ought to be paid promptly for the work they do taking care of our citizens.
One of my duties as Champaign County Auditor is to serve as the county’s agent for the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF), the state pension system for county and municipal employees. The IMRF, which is 90% funded, is a good example of a pension system that has been managed responsibly. The Teachers Retirement System (TRS) and State University Retirement System (SURS), on the other hand, have been neglected and under funded for decades. In Springfield I will fight for better management of state pension systems because hard working teachers and university employees should be able to retire with financial peace of mind.
Energy and Gas Prices
Gas prices are spiraling out of control. Hard working men and women shouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg just so they can drive to work and feed their families. I have proposed a plan to cap the state gasoline tax when gas goes above $2.50 a gallon. I have also proposed investing a portion of state revenues from the gas tax into research and development for renewable energy and alternative fuels. The University of Illinois has already begun testing miscanthus, a type of perennial grass, as a form of fuel and there must be greater funding for these types of projects, which would create jobs in East Central Illinois and benefit the entire nation by reducing our dependence on foreign oil.