State Representative, 5th District
Job creation is critical to the recovery of our state and local economy. That is why I am supporting House Bill 144 which provides tax breaks for businesses who hire long-term unemployed individuals. Iím also supporting House Bill 145 which gives tax breaks to businesses who move part-time employees to full-time positions. Jobs must be available to all members of our community, which is why I am sponsoring House Bill 2669, a bill that will encourage businesses to promote diversity within their company. Additionally, I have continued my work to make Illinois more attractive to major film and TV production groups by sponsoring House Bill 1528. The filming of popular movies such as Batman: The Dark Knight, Transformers, Divergent, Empire, Chicago Fire and many more have brought new resources and job opportunities to our community; this bill will help attract more blockbusters to our state.
A good education is critical to creating opportunities for our children. However, too many students are frequently absent from school. I am supporting House Bill 3197 which will create a State Board of Education Attendance Commission with the mission of finding solutions to the chronic absenteeism problem. I am also working to make sure students are treated properly while in school by creating a Student Bill of Rights in order to improve the relationship between students and police officers in schools. House Bill 1458 will limit the involvement of police officers in student misconduct investigations and require that a trusted adult be present when police question students.
As chairman of theHigher Education AppropriationsCommittee, I am committed to providing our state colleges and universities with the funding they need to offer an excellent education at an affordable price. I also believe we need to increase funding for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants so that college is affordable for all students. Additionally, I am supporting House Bill 3428 which will save students and their family's money by preventing students who do well enough on their high school Advanced Placement exams from having to retake the same classes in college. Another bill am supporting is House Bill 402 which provides income tax deductions for certain student loan payments. I firmly believe that all students deserve a college education, and I will continue to fight to make college more accessible for our students.
In addressing the financial problems of the state I plan to once again analyze the stateís budget one line at a time in order to find a balanced solution of both budget cuts and new sources of revenue. The governorís proposal relies exclusively on budget cuts, placing an unfair share of the burden on working and middle-class Illinoisans. Unfortunately, decades of mismanagement have created the problems we face today, however as my colleagues and I work together to find a solution, I will make sure that it is fair and in the best interests of my constituents.
Senior citizens have worked hard to build for a secure retirement, and the state needs to be there for them. To help seniors stay in their homes, I recently supported a new law increasing the value of a key property tax credit for homeowners over the age of 65. I will continue to fight for a responsible state budget that provides for critical services seniors depend on. This includes continuing to fund senior programs such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), senior reduced fare transit cards from the Chicago Transit Authority, and the Circuit Breaker and Illinois Cares RX programs.
I believe that everyone should feel safe while in their neighborhood. However too many areas have seen the devastating effects of increased crime rates. In addition to maintaining relationships with local police officers and residents, I am working to reduce violent occurrences in our community by sponsoring House Bill 1530 which prevents temporary residents of youth shelters from roaming the streets at night. I am also supporting House Bill 242which will help deter stalkers from using the internet to monitor the activity of potential victims.
On the other hand, we should not be punishing innocent residents for crimes they did not commit. I am sponsoring House Bill 169, a bill that will destroy arrest records for innocent individuals who have been misidentified and mistakenly arrested for crimes they did not commit.
While reasonable pension reforms are necessary, I remain strongly opposed to cutting benefits for current pensioners and will continue fighting to protect the benefits hard working men and women have earned. I am committed to ensuring that all stakeholders have a seat at the table and a voice in the discussion on future pension legislation. As always, I strongly encourage everyone to contact my constituent service office if they have questions, comments or concerns on this issue.
The history of unethical behavior in Illinois is embarrassing and we must continue to take steps to ensure that elected officials respect the offices they hold and that taxpayer money is treated with the respect it deserves. I have worked to eliminate pay-for-play in Illinois. Furthermore, I voted to institute the most comprehensive set of campaign finance reforms in the history of Illinois, which place strict spending caps and transparency requirements for all candidates and lobbyists. I also supported reforms that grant the public access to important information regarding tax-payer funded mass transit employee salaries as well as safety and budget information.