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Senator shares ‘record of success’

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

Back in January, a father and his daughter attended one of my meetings in Sterling. He’s retired from the Illinois Department of Corrections. She was pursuing nursing through the area community college. I bring them up because their issues define this race and why I am running.

There are those in Springfield who think the answer to our state’s financial problems is to break promises to our retirees and state employees. Corporate interests, who long ago abandoned their workers’ retirement security, now want the state to do the same.

I’m not going to be part of that. I’ve fought to protect your economic and retirement security.

Our communities are enriched with people who taught our children to read, write and do math. We’ve been protected by prison guards watching over criminals. Those workers and their services are valuable.

Over the years, those workers dutifully paid into the pension system. The problem is, for decades, the state didn’t. And now, the solution is to take it out on the workers and retirees? That’s just not right or fair.

We need to broaden the discussion. I think we need to bring tax reform into the pension reform debate.

Every year, all the state tax breaks and loopholes are catalogued so you can see just how much they cost taxpayers. The latest tally totals $6.8 billion. Some are essential, but many are obscure and forgotten.

It’s time to re-examine them, figure out what’s working, and get rid of what isn’t. Any money we find should help fund the pension systems, balance the budget, and invest in our future.

And that brings me to education.

Quite honestly, the state is failing in its commitment to support public schools, community colleges, and universities. I fear how many opportunities are lost as millions are slashed from the education budget.

And then I wonder how many more opportunities will be lost if Republicans gain control of the Senate. Their agenda guts education by hundreds of millions more, saying it makes good business sense.

That’s nonsense. Their plan sticks local taxpayers with the burden and prices students out of higher education. What kind of business plan is that?

We’ve got problems in Springfield. But ripping off retirees and slamming shut doors of opportunity aren’t solutions.

I’m running because I think economic security and educational opportunities are priorities.

As a senator, my job is to help people. Some days that’s navigating the bureaucracy so someone gets the aid they deserve. Other days it’s breaking ground for the Western Illinois University campus in the Quad Cities, a project I fought for years to get to make sure our families had the same opportunities offered elsewhere.

This new district includes not only my hometown of East Moline but now your hometowns.

Over the past 7 years, I’ve secured $563 million in capital projects for my district, which created thousands of jobs.

I can bring the same record of success to your communities as your senator.

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