Jobs and the Economy
The Illinois economy suffers from two huge problems: high unemployment and fiscal imbalance. These are the most urgent challenges facing our state, and we must take immediate action to address them. I am working to encourage growth in Illinois, by increasing investment in small businesses and making the fiscal reforms needed to stabilize our budget.
The pension crisis is the most prominent fiscal challenge facing our state; simultaneously putting at risk our budget’s stability and the retirement security of teachers and other public employees. I have proposed several innovative approaches to reform our systems, and consistently advocate for sound, rational, and equitable reforms to our pension systems until we have resolved this problem for the employees and taxpayers of Illinois.
Illinois schools must prepare our children for the future. In a global economy, American competitiveness rests on providing each student with the best possible education. Improving Illinois's schools is our state’s top priority. I will work tirelessly to ensure that our educational system is a model for the 21st century.
For years, the growth of the Medicaid program has placed substantial strain on our budget, which is why I supported a historic reform package to strengthen and stabilize the program. At the same time, we will expand Medicaid significantly in 2014 in order to implement the Affordable Care Act. This requires that we remain vigilant in controlling costs and preserving the integrity of the Medicaid system.
Illinois government suffers from an awful reputation of corruption, stemming from a history of appalling abuses and crimes. These acts of corruption have a substantial direct cost to our state, but they have an even greater indirect cost in the form of a cynical public that expects little of its elected leaders. Improving integrity in our state government and restoring the public trust is among my top priorities in the legislature.
Illinois is fortunate to have an expansive and progressive Constitution that lays out a variety of rights and protections for ordinary citizens. This document also provides a blueprint for how we will protect individual and civil rights in Illinois. I have worked hard to pass laws that support and strengthen these rights and protections, and I will continue to fight to protect the rights every Illinois citizen is entitled to.
I am passionately committed to preserving a clean and healthy environment for this and future generations. Over the past 40 years, state and federal laws have been very successful in improving our air and water quality. Today, however, we face the largest environmental challenge in history, the threat of global warming. My goal in the legislature is to ensure that Illinois meets this global challenge head-on.
Experience has taught us that the best way to keep abortion safe but rare is to combine pro-choice laws with broad reproductive health education programs. Unfortunately, both of these policies are currently under attack by right-wing organizations, threatening women's autonomy and physical well-being alike. I am acutely sensitive to this issue, and I pledge to lead the fight in Springfield to protect women's reproductive freedom.