My three top priorities are:
I believe that there is no greater investment we can make in our communities and in our state than effective education systems for our children. While the state has been increasing education funding over the past several years, I feel that we still have not reached the goal of an adequate and equitable funding system.
Currently, Illinois has the most inadequate, inefficient and inequitable education funding system in the country. It ranks 48th in the nation in the amount of funding the state provides for education (Illinois provides only 36%). And according to a report by The Education Trust, Illinois ranks dead last (50th) in the nation in the per pupil spending gap between wealthy and poor school districts. Their analysis revealed that Illinois spends $2,545 less per student in the highest poverty districts than in the most affluent.
If we are serious about moving forward on education funding reform and committed to reaching the $6,405 per pupil foundation level threshold set by the Education Funding Advisory Board, I recommend the state adopt SB750/HB750. I am a chief co-sponsor of SB750, a legislative initiative of Senator Meeks that is supported by A+ Illinois, Voices for Illinois Children, AFSCME, Better Funding for Better Schools Coalition, Chicago Urban League and others.
SB750 is a bipartisan bill that offers a real and comprehensive solution to closing the school funding gap while providing tax relief for middle- and low-income families. Some of the other outcomes include: 1) Illinois assumes 51% of the cost of funding education; 2) Creates a continuing appropriation for elementary and secondary education; 3) Reduces property tax burden by $2.4 billion statewide 4) Eliminates the state’s structural deficit; and 5) Bottom 60% of all income earners realize no tax increase after the reform.
Stop Mortgage Fraud and Predatory Lending Practices
As chairman of the Senate Financial Institutions Committee, I sponsored SB2349, the Mortgage Rescue Fraud Act last session, when I became aware of the mounting problem of mortgage fraud as reported in the Tribune’s five–part series “The New Street Hustle.” In response to a new study by the Center for Responsible Lending, “The Effect of Race and Ethnicity on the Price of Subprime Mortgages,” I will be pushing mortgage steering legislation to prohibit the deliberate steering of minorities into sub-par loans.
Reduce Incarceration and Recidivism
drug policies are not working. According to a study by Roosevelt University
“Intersecting Voices: Impacts of Illinois’ Drug Policies,”
Illinois is second only to California in the number of individuals being
incarcerated for drug offenses. Illinois spends millions each year incarcerating
the same nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom are rearrested, prosecuted
and imprisoned. I will be advocating for alternative sentencing and drug
abuse treatment and education for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders.
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