Below, I've outlined my platform on some of the top issues facing Illinois. While the issues before us are complex, I'm optimistic about Illinois' future. This March, voters will be asked to choose between a new generation of leadership and the status quo.
I want you to know where I stand, and I hope you'll stand with me on Election Day.
Public and Charter Schools
I went to Chicago Public Schools for elementary and high school. I helped coach a water polo team at a CPS high school for four years. I currently sit on the Local School Council at Edison Elementary. There is no reason why new charter schools should be opened when public schools are closing or operating on reduced budgets. Charter schools lack transparency; lack statute-required parent and community involvement like LSCs; and have an incentive to focus on higher achievers and ignore students who need more attention. I support a moratorium on the opening of new charter schools in Chicago, and a roll-back of the current charter schools. We desperately need to focus on strengthening our public schools and making them Illinois’ number one priority.
Affordable Housing and Rent Control
Tenants should be able to stay in their neighborhoods with affordable housing options. The real estate lobby is putting profits over people by developing properties without considering the effect to the neighborhood. I believe renters should be prioritized over the financial interests of real estate developers. I support lifting the Illinois ban on rent control. I’m an advocate for requiring large developers to conduct racial and economic-impact studies on their project so the people of Illinois can get the transparency they deserve. I also support the creation of quasi-judicial housing courts, because tenant laws mean nothing without an affordable, simple way to exercise those rights.
Illinoisans are entitled to affordable, quality healthcare options. I support a single-payer system that will replace for-profit insurance companies and their premiums. Instead, I advocate for a state-sponsored health insurance fund that will have greater negotiating leverage with an option for other states to participate - moving towards the goal of national Medicare for All.
A typical employee pays an insurance premium on a monthly basis. That premium goes to a large insurance company that promises to cover you should you need medical treatment. Because they’re a big company, they have more leverage and can get healthcare services for lower prices. Sounds simple, but we all know things aren’t that simple in practice. Some claims are denied because they’re not covered; reimbursement takes forever; and a sizable amount of our premiums just go to administrative overhead costs. But most importantly, millions of Americans across this country just can’t afford it in the first place. Meanwhile, insurance company CEOs are making millions every year. Something’s gotta change.
I support universal healthcare where health insurance premiums are replaced by a healthcare tax that is equivalent to the average yearly premium cost. The typical employee wouldn’t feel a hit to their bottom line. The funds are collected into a healthcare fund used to do the same thing insurance companies do - except better. No more profit-motive to deny claims and save money, and no more multi-million dollar bonuses to CEOs. Other states will have the option to join the fund should they adopt similar laws. Together, Illinoisans will have negotiating power over healthcare providers. That way the People are the true owners of the insurance fund.
Income Equality & Progressive Tax Rates
Illinois is home to the highest overall tax burden in the nation. In Illinois, the top 1 percent of income earners pay just 4.6 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while the bottom 20 percent of earners have almost three times the tax burden of the wealthiest, paying 13.2 percent. This type of income inequity should not be tolerated and is largely due to the state's flat tax rate. When the 1% don't pay their fair share, the rest of us pay up.
High-net-worth (HNW) individuals should pay taxes at a higher rate than everyone else. I support progressive tax rates and a Wealth Tax.
Women have made remarkable strides towards equality in the past years. But still, women are consistently paid less than their male counterparts. I will focus my gender equality efforts on a critical area: Women in the workplace. We can’t afford to marginalize women and treat them as second class citizens - especially with the issues we’re facing. It’s not enough to simply recognize the inequity, make a policy, and move on. We need overt, pronounced change. I propose statewide reporting requirements where businesses will have to disclose how much they are paying men versus women. This way, the people of Illinois can understand how businesses are contributing to the wage gap.
It's no secret that Illinois' pension systems are severely underfunded. As a contributor (and hopefully one day beneficiary) to a government pension, I know this mess needs to be cleaned up immediately. Raising taxes is counter-intuitive and will not help. Finding "new" sources of revenue often sorely over-estimate their revenue (remember Rahm Emmanuel's speed camera claims?). We can solve the state's pension crisis by increasing quality of life, not raise taxes, and address the apparent pension abuses.
A government's best tax base is its people. People earn income (and pay income taxes), buy houses (and pay property taxes), and spend money (and pay sales tax). However, Illinois are leaving the state in record numbers and thus our tax base is eroding. We need to give people a good reason to come and thrive in Illinois. We do this by having better schools, better public transportation, and removing the draconian barriers to enter professions (did you know you need a license to braid hair in Illinois??). These are some of the things that will make people want to move to Illinois and generate the funds we need to begin to address the monstrous debt our legislature have gotten us into.
Campaign Finance Reform
Illinois is notorious for having some of the country's most expensive elections. It's an unfortunate reality that those with more money often end up winning the race. I want to take the money out of politics. I support democracy vouchers and public matching for campaign financing reform. This means that all voters will be given a set number of vouchers which have a certain dollar value. The vouchers can be given to candidates, and in turn be used to purchase campaign services and materials. This ensures that a full-time college student will have the same political donor power as a millionaire. It's the fair thing to do.