Health care in Illinois has suffered because of the budget crisis. Even before the long impasse, residents in many areas of the state had limited access to medical and mental health clinics – particularly those that provide services to our most vulnerable citizens. The breakdown in state reimbursement funding made this situation worse, driving many facilities to lay off staff and a few to close their doors. We need to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Many health care workers choose to serve at clinics like these because of a deep commitment to their mission, and often for lower pay than they might receive from other employers. If these facilities are forced to lay off staff, even for a short time, they may permanently lose dedicated employees who have no choice but to look for work elsewhere. Such damage might take years to repair. We need to ensure that all Illinois residents have access to quality health care at an affordable price. In the face of reckless policy shifts at the federal level, we need to make sure that our individual insurance markets continue to function. We need to continue to have a functioning insurance exchange in Illinois, even if the Affordable Care Act is gutted or repealed. All Illinois residents should be enrolled in a quality, affordable insurance plan, with no discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions. This is necessary not only to keep Illinoisans healthy, but also to encourage economic growth by ensuring that the people of this state have the freedom to pursue new economic opportunities – to change jobs or to start a small business without fear of losing health coverage and putting themselves and their families at risk of financial ruin because of an illness or injury.
Women’s reproductive rights are fundamental to both health care and equality. Unlike Tom Morrison, I fully support legislation recently signed into law that ensures that abortion remains legal in Illinois in the event that Roe v. Wade is ever overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, and allows coverage for the procedure for those insured by state employees insurance and Medicaid. I also fully support the requirement that insurance sold in the state of Illinois covers birth control.
Fair and Equitable TaxationIllinois’ tax structure is unfair. We need education, we need infrastructure, we need to support our first responders and we need to ensure that the most vulnerable among us have access to health care and other essential social services. But our state currently imposes a flat income tax rate that leaves our poorest residents paying a higher percentage of their income in taxes than do lower-income residents in other states; those with higher incomes pay far less than they would elsewhere in the country. This income tax structure also forces local governments to rely more heavily on property taxes. We need comprehensive change in how we tax ourselves. I favor 1) a constitutional amendment that would establish a graduated income tax and 2) a restructuring of the way we pay for education in Illinois, to alleviate our reliance on property taxes.
I support LGBTQ rights in the state of Illinois. Unlike my opponent, I fully support the right to marry and protection from discrimination in employment, education and housing. I fully support policies that allow for access by transgender youth to bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity, and I firmly oppose the discriminatory legislation – introduced in the House by Tom Morrison – that restricts access to public bathrooms to those who match the gender indicated at birth on one’s birth certificate.
I was educated in District 15 and 214 schools, and I taught at a public university attended by many students from our local districts. The quality public education I received here prepared me well for my next steps in life, and I consider it one of my chief obligations – as a citizen and a legislator – to make sure that future generations of students enjoy the same opportunities that were available to me. I also understand the important social role of our schools: they are where kids learn to live, play and work together with people who come from a rich diversity of backgrounds, orientations and life experiences. I am dedicated to making sure that our public schools remain strong, vital community institutions with the funding they need to prepare our children for rewarding, productive lives.
My environmental priorities are to maintain clean air and water standards in Illinois and to improve public transportation and pedestrian/bicycle transportation options in our communities. Since moving back to Rolling Meadows I’ve been a member of its Environment Committee, where I have helped advise the city on recycling strategies and other environmental issues. More recently, I’ve served as the bicycle liaison to the city’s Traffic Committee, drawing upon my decades as a bicycle commuter. I understand that pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly infrastructure is good for the environment, good for the local economy and property values, and good for the health and financial well being of those who use it. I am working to bring my experience to bear on improving infrastructure in Illinois.
While I understand the value of preserving access to appropriate firearms for sport, I do not believe the Second Amendment precludes commonsense legislation that will work to reduce gun violence. I support dealer licensing and tougher penalties for illegal sales; a ban on the sale of weapons or accessories and modifications that allow rapid fire of large numbers of rounds; and effective measures for keeping guns out of the hands of those with a history of domestic violence or mental illness.