Since coming to Springfield a decade ago, I have fought tirelessly for a new way of doing business. Slowly but surely, we’re getting there. I want to show you how I’ve been Honestly Different and pushing for the kind of commonsense, smarter and surer direction we need on the issues that matter to the voters of the 57th District.
It’s been my honor and privilege to serve the 57th District for the past 10 years. I’ve learned a lot about Springfield during that time and had my share of challenges and frustrations. But through it all, I’ve fought for you, for us, for a better Illinois. We’re in position now to see some really great things happen, and I want to work with you to get there. Support sending me to the Capitol and together we’ll get the job done, for today and tomorrow.
Candidate for 57th District Representative
Our state budget has been too much of a problem for far too long. I understand the policies and politics behind why we’ve had so many challenges and used my degree in economics and knowledge of the various spending pressures to lead us down a better path. We’re finally headed in the right direction.
In 2010, I led a group of legislators to put real, meaningful budget cuts on the table for the first time affecting education, health care, state employee salaries and mileage reimbursements. Since then, we’ve made billions of dollars more in cuts in the areas that really matter while maintaining our spending priorities and streamlining waste and inefficiency.
I have supported increasing revenue to help fill the gap because it’s simply disingenuous to pretend we can cut our way out of a problem like this any other way. I’ve supported unpopular facility closures, both to save money and to provide the services in a more effective way in the community. And I’m continuing to push for streamlined models for how we deliver our services. Just as the private and nonprofit sectors have done, we must do more with less and ensure that what money we are spending has a very effective, efficient and measurable outcome. There’s much more work to do. But I’m eager to get back to work on getting the job done.
There is simply no bigger problem facing our state than the enormous, catastrophically growing debt in our state workers’ pension funds. So when I was presented with a leadership opportunity on this issue this year, I jumped at it.
I’ve worked nonstop to understand the problem, define answers and build support for a long-term solution. We are on the cusp of a historic breakthrough. I am disappointed that we did not vote on the package of reforms that surfaced late in the spring legislative session and hope we soon will return to Springfield to take it up. This is a problem that is decades in the making and now we’re trying to make the hard choices to get it fixed in a much shorter timeframe. Until then, I’ll keep working to educate my colleagues on why we should support pension reform that:
- Restores certainty that workers’ hard-earned retirement is safe and secure
- Ends lavish pensions for legislators and others that are out of line with Illinoisans’ expectations
- Ensures government at the state and local levels and employees are paying their fair share to support a realistic, sustainable pension system
- Provides relief from the budget pressures now forcing us to fund pensions over spending in critical areas such as education, health care and human services
As our retirement funds adjust their estimated investment returns and send the crushing debt even higher, it’s essential we deal with this problem now in as meaningful a way as possible. I’m committed to getting this job done – no more excuses.
Another massive problem facing our state, I proudly stood with colleagues from both sides of the aisle as we took the first meaningful step to reducing expenses in this state health insurance program. Through a combination of targeted spending cuts and an increase in the cigarette tax that will lower health care costs by discouraging smoking, I worked with other legislators and the governor to produce $2.7 billion in savings in this $14 billion program.
Our work is not done. We will need to be vigilant to keep expenses manageable going forward, and that will become even more important as more people join the rolls when federal health care reform takes effect in the next couple of years. But with vigilant stewardship, we will produce a stronger Medicaid program that provides the coverage that is so important to those who need it in our district and our state while ending waste and holding accountable the health care providers and insurers for taking care of these needs at a reasonable cost.
We’ll never get to where we want to be in Illinois unless we more strongly embrace our future success, and we do that through education. I have fought year after year for appropriate funding for suburban schools, and that fight has paid off. I wholeheartedly support increased funding for early childhood education because with the right direction early on, students can and will succeed in even the most challenging situations outside the classroom. I’m working on special education funding and corporate property tax appeals to ensure we’re capitalizing on the funding available and providing the resources necessary to meet our most critical needs.
I’m disappointed we have not made as much progress in funding reform as I had hoped in the last few years. But I believe that can and will change as soon as we can make the substantial changes in our budget that I’m leading the charge on. In the reform debate, we need a data-driven approach where we examine why schools are successful and why they are not, and steer resources to meet the dire needs. We must also lead from Springfield by embracing the differences in education in our diverse state, rather than forcing bureaucratic mandates that squander our success stories.
Too often in Springfield, we’ve lost focus on what it takes to support a healthy economy. I can tell you that I’m encouraged by a changing attitude on the importance of job creation, and there’s more to be done.
I served on the House Bipartisan Jobs Creation Task Force, where we looked closely at our job losses and how we can turn that around. It starts with infrastructure. Illinois has phenomenal railroad assets and we are uniquely positioned to take advantage of them as the freight rail industry grows. I support efforts to increase our rail capacity in Chicagoland through more state and federal investment. Every dollar we put into better rails, roads, bridges and transit is a dollar that creates jobs, supports jobs and reinvests in our future.
Some tax credits in Illinois work well to boost our economy, and the EDGE tax credits are one of them. I support reforms to ensure the process for those credits is streamlined so they can better be utilized by companies creating and retaining jobs. I also support improvements in state environmental oversight to avoid unnecessary duplications and hassles in fees and permitting that force businesses to look to other states to grow.
Too often, we’ve all been embarrassed by our state officials in Springfield. Our ethics track record is sad and disturbing. But rather than giving up, I’m more resolved than ever to fighting our way to a new reputation of clean, honest and transparent government.
“She’s Honestly Different” isn’t just a campaign slogan for me. It’s how I live my life and lead at the Capitol by:
- Voting against the old way of doing business by saying ‘no’ to rules that allow House leaders to unilaterally control all legislative action in the chamber, despite the very real possibility of political payback from party leaders
- Sponsoring legislation to eliminate appointments to state boards and commissions by governors in the final days of their elected terms, to avoid crony politics
- Supporting increasing penalties for state workers who do political work on state time
- Pushing to eliminate a suburban Cook County education office plagued by ethical lapses and lack of performance
- Spearheading budget reforms that end waste and force more sunshine on what’s being spent and why
- Pushing back at Blagojevich cronies by fighting to eliminate sweetheart deals and special favors for campaign contributors and requiring lowest bidders receive state contracts
- Supporting campaign contribution limits and creating incentives for candidates to control spending
- Advocating to finally end a legislative scholarship program plagued by accusations of favoritism and political shenanigans
Working with you, we’ll bring a new way of doing business to Springfield and make Illinois a proud state once again.
Serving the 57th District
I’m proud of my track record of relentless advocacy at the Capitol. But public service starts at home.
I made serving you, my constituents, my top priority on the first day of taking office in 2003 and I’ve never wavered from that commitment. I and my staff aim to be problem solvers on a number of issues, helping respond to your requests and ensuring you have the information and access you need to be successful. Even when money is scarce and times are tough, we can serve you at the highest levels and will continue to make meeting your needs our No. 1 priority. We’re here for you, whenever you need us.
Our natural resources are precious and we must do more to protect them. As a state legislator, I have led and supported initiatives to protect our environment by:
- Reducing use of potentially toxic chemicals, such as sponsoring the Child Safe Chemicals Act to bar toxicity in child toys and products
- Limiting the time certain diesel-powered vehicles can idle
- Setting aggressive goals for Illinois to reduce carbon emissions and promoting clean air
- Reducing the use of fossil fuel energy sources and promoting cleaner energy, such as greater reliance on wind and solar power
- Strengthening energy efficient building codes and enforcement of energy efficiency resource standards
Among our environmental concerns is the frequent flooding problems our district faces, and the challenges it creates for our families and businesses. I have pushed legislation to create a stormwater management commission to address our concerns about living near the Des Plaines River. I worked closely with Sen. Susan Garrett for more than $6 million in funding from the state to complete a new levee that saved hundreds of homes during the summer 2007 storms. I’m making completion of a new levee in Mount Prospect and Prospect Heights a priority and working with a number of state and local agencies to coordinate a meaningful response to this growing problem.
Fighting for You
I’ve stood up for condominium associations that have been victimized by unscrupulous managers by pushing for minimum requirement standards for those managers, including financial protections against theft of funds. I’ve also created an advisory council to identify issues important to condo owners and will give those issues my full attention.
Senior citizens have a friend in me. I’ve held a number of forums and seminars to ensure their voices are heard on topics ranging from Medicare Part D to senior safety, and I’m committed to preserving the safety nets for seniors in Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. I’ve supported legislation to expand property tax relief for senior citizens that will ensure more of their hard-earned money stays with them.