It has been my honor to serve the people of the metro-east in the Illinois Legislature.
Like many of you, I share your frustration at state government’s inability to adopt a budget. We must make tough decisions to get our fiscal house in order. Reduction of wasteful spending must occur. But that does not mean simply accepting the governor’s drastic budget cuts to universities and community colleges, health care and social services that would hurt our fellow citizens. We must put partisanship aside and work across party lines to solve our budget crisis.
As a metro-east legislator, my priority has been simple — be a champion for hard-working families. To do that, I have taken on Springfield and Chicago politicians to deliver jobs, better schools and vital transportation projects for the metro-east. In addition, at a time of rising property taxes, I have voted 18 times to freeze property taxes and led the fight to reduce property taxes for seniors and veterans so they can stay in their homes.
I have worked to create jobs for our area. The loss of jobs at Granite City Steel and other companies moving jobs overseas has devastated workers and their families. To provide help for Granite City workers, I have proposed extension of unemployment benefits to a year. Moving forward, I will lead the effort to pass laws to guarantee that the State of Illinois buys American-made products whenever possible, create incentives for businesses to create jobs in the metro-east, and pass legislation that would require local companies and workers receive preference on state purchases.
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As the former Transportation chairman, I secured funding for roads and bridges in the metro-east that employed thousands of workers and led to major transportation improvements, including the new Mississippi River Bridge, the widening of Illinois 159 and 157, MetroLink, the widening of Interstate 64, the re-opening of the McKinley Bridge and the Interstate 255 extension.
Making sure our schools are adequately funded is a top priority. Good schools are essential to helping our children succeed and attracting jobs and investment. Over the past several years, I secured increases of billions of dollars in new education funding and supported expanding preschool for 90,000 children. And, I supported raising high school graduation standards, making sure our students take more math, science, language arts and writing courses before graduating.
To support higher education, I helped obtain funding to construct new buildings and classrooms at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Southwestern Illinois College and the N.O. Nelson complex for Lewis & Clark Community College.
Working together, we can balance our budget, attract new jobs and businesses, lower property taxes and support our schools. I humbly ask for your support. Thank you.