Adequate and Equitable Funding and Holistic Supports for our Public Schools
The future of Illinois families depends on the viability of our public institutions: our schools, universities, and social services. Illinois ranks 50th in the nation in terms of state funding of k-12 public education. Because of program rollbacks and mismatch of supply and demand only half of Illinois children have access to quality, affordable pre-k education. We need leaders in Springfield who understand firsthand the importance of education as a foundation for economic mobility. As the daughter of a single mother without a high school diploma who worked two jobs to pay the bills, I learned early on that a better future depends on an excellent education.
I will work tirelessly in Springfield to ensure that support for public education, special needs students, and early childhood learning remains a top priority. Until we achieve adequate, equitable funding and create a set of holistic education priorities for all public schools in Illinois, our work is not done.
This work also requires a commitment to affordable housing, physical and emotional health, and robust social services. Our public schools have become the largest provider of mental health services in Illinois but receive no targeted funding from the state. Our state must increase support for community healthcare centers and expand the pool of providers accepting Medicare/Medicaid payments. We must invest in social and emotional learning, mental health supports, and trauma-informed care for our children and educators. If we neglect these most essential services, we will pay the price for generations to come.
Like healthcare, a safe, stable home environment is fundamental to the wellbeing of any child. The supply of affordable housing should be determined not by an across-the-board average, but rather by the percentage of the population in jeopardy of losing housing. Housing funding should target communities unable to meet the needs of their residents. With greater affordable housing, our schools will experience lower student mobility and lost instructional time, and our families and communities will enjoy greater stability.
Ensuring the Long-Term Success of Our State
We must move past individual agendas and political posturing to tackle Illinois’ deep financial crisis. With an operating deficit that constitutes 58% of our annual spending on services, our state’s spending trajectory is unsustainable. Moreover, we must address the inequity in our tax system which undermines economic growth and erodes the health and well-being of our middle class. That is why I support a progressive income tax that reduces our over reliance on local property taxes--which are inherently regressive--and drives greater equity across the system. Finally, we must change the way we govern in Springfield. I support term limits for state legislatures and leadership, campaign finance reform, and the drawing of fair and unbiased maps. Reaching across the aisle, I will work to do what is right for Illinois every day--for our citizens, businesses, kids and families.
Workforce Readiness and Economic Growth for Thriving Families
My mother worked two jobs during my childhood -- cleaning houses and working in an office -- not because she wasn’t driven or smart as a tack, but because she lacked both a high school diploma and access to training for higher wage jobs. Since then, the income gap has grown exponentially, and the primary driver is the growing wage gap between those with high school degrees vs. those with college or advanced degrees.
I fully support increasing the minimum wage across Illinois. I believe that Illinois needs to provide increased job training and workforce readiness programs through public-private partnerships targeting youth and parents/caregivers without college degrees. We currently have approximately 65,000 unfilled jobs in our state, and our unemployment rate is highest among our least-educated residents. We need to offer young adults and their families better pathways to careers leading to economic self-sufficiency. I am committed to working with our postsecondary institutions in private/public partnerships to reverse this trend and ensure our residents have access to well-paid, high-demand jobs. This investment in workforce readiness, which is essential for families to thrive, will fuel broader economic growth critical to the future of our state.