Financial Freedom from Crippling Student Loan Debt

As a mother of three, I know the anxiety families and students in Illinois feel when theycontemplate the cost of college. It is a travesty that one of the world’s wealthiest countries withthe best universities forces students to take out massive high-interest loans that many will struggle to pay off for decades. To add insult to injury, the federal government depends on revenue generated from student loan interest to finance many of its programs. Moreover, student loan debt is forcing many families and young adults in Illinois to make painful choices between paying their monthly loan minimums and putting food on the table. As a progressive Democrat with decades of experience in the capital lending market, I will add energy to the growing chorus of policymakers and students on both sides of the aisle who are demanding that the federal government and states implement policies that can wipe out student debt. We all know that this country can do more to reduce the cost of getting a higher education. We should have been prioritizing spending that eliminates student debt a long time ago. Enough is enough – we need to get our priorities straight and fight for financial freedom! While continuing to champion national level efforts to reduce student loan debt, I will diligently work with lawmakers in the Illinois Legislature and our Governor to implement a range of programs aimed at easing the loan burden that threatens to financially cripple the next generation of students. Some of these efforts include: fighting for changes to the state tax code that would allow borrowers to deduct their student loan interest; capping tuitions at state schools; implementing loan forgiveness programs for graduates who enter civil service in Illinois’s government; and supporting legislation that prohibits the capitalization of student loan interest when borrowers enter a period of unforeseen economic hardship.

Advocating to Destigmatize Mental Health and Disabilities

I know what it’s like to be at the margins of society. Though there is certainly much more to be done, we have come a long way as a country in ending discrimination against vulnerable populations. But we can never rest on our laurels. It is our human duty to strive for a more inclusive, compassionate, and merciful society. An issue especially dear to my heart is advocacy for the physically and mentally disabled. A close family member has faced obstacles throughout his life related to development challenges that were incorrectly diagnosed. I worked with his school system to help coordinate a more tailored curriculum and ensure that he received proper services and support. Sadly, not every family with a loved one in the same situation has the resources to ensure they receive specialized support and attention.

The bureaucratic hurdles I had to surmount to help place this loved one on more equal footing taught me to be more patient, love more deeply, and advocate for a more equitable system. As your elected official, I will fight harder for those who need help the most, whether it be due to a physical or mental disability, or someone suffering from anxiety or depression. I will lead on legislation that increases access to services, programs, and treatments that that helps remove the stigma of disability and mental illness. I will make sure these individuals are not treated as lesser human beings. Together, we can bring everyone through the door!

Smarter and More Effective Spending

As a member of the Illinois State Senate, I will apply my professional expertise in finance and as a Commissioner on the Streamwood Park District Board to reduce unnecessary spending so that Illinois’s stretched resources can be used more effectively on programs that are priorities for constituents. After I was first elected to the Park District Board, I saved residents $40,000 by steering my colleagues towards a less expensive playground renovation project. This was the result of extensive research I conducted to identify the sweet spot between lower costs and maintaining the quality standards our constituents deserve. I’ll bring that same tenacity and fiscal acumen to my work in the Illinois Senate, and I look forward to taking a hard look at our state’s budget to see where we can achieve savings that maintain the quality of our programs and services.

A Freeze on Pay Raises for State Lawmakers

The constituents in the 22nd District work hard and many are still feeling the after effects of the 2008 recession. Many of you heard the disappointing news that the Illinois General Assembly this year approved a 2.4% increase of $1,600 to their own base salaries…while also approving tax hikes that will cost ordinary Illinoisans more! Lawmakers in Illinois already receive the fifth-largest base salary in the United States. Additionally, these same lawmakers are entitled to a generous state pension when they retire.

If elected, I promise to oppose any attempts to raise lawmakers’ pay.

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