Candidates discuss building a progressive Illinois

West Suburban Teachers Union Local 571

From left, Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, Sen. Laura Murphy and Sen. Linda Holmes were honored for their dedication to public education and working families. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

OAK BROOK — When gubernatorial candidates speak to a room full of educators, there’s no doubt they will be asked their opinion on pension reform and the recent passage of a tax credit program to overhaul the way Illinois funds schools.

But three Democratic candidates were surprised when educators also wanted to know their views on fracking, climate change and clean energy.

“I wasn’t thinking I was going to discuss climate change, but talking to educators — I should have known better,” joked Sen. Daniel Biss.

West Suburban Teachers Union Local 571

Educators from western Cook and DuPage Counties gather to hear from three Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Biss, along with Chris Kennedy and Rep. Juliana Stratton — JB Pritzker’s running mate and candidate for Lt. Gov., were invited guests to the West Suburban Teachers Union Local 571’s 12th Annual Legislative Breakfast.

Local 571 President Jane Russell believes it’s in the best interest of her members to meet and form relationships with local legislators. The annual breakfast encourages members to be aware of current political issues and candidates.

West Suburban Teachers Union Local 571

From left, Rep. Juliana Stratton — JB Pritzker’s running mate and candidate for Lt. Gov., Chris Kennedy and Sen. Daniel Biss were invited guests to the West Suburban Teachers Union Local 571’s 12th Annual Legislative Breakfast. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

All three candidates believe a progressive income tax for Illinois is the best way to fund schools.

Stratton laid out a plan she and Pritzker intend to follow: Make preschool universal, bring back vocational training to high schools and apprenticeships for young adults and invest in financial aid and MAP grants.

West Suburban Teachers Union Local 571

West Suburban Teachers Union Local 571 President Jane Russell is dedicated to educating her members on political issues and candidates. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

“We are ready to increase public funding for education across the board . . . by passing a progressive income tax in Illinois. Those who can afford to pay more should do so,” she explained.

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Kennedy would like to go a step further and eliminate the property tax system, which would eliminate a conflict of interest in both parties where political leaders are property tax appeals lawyers.

“They’re making money on the property tax system. They’re not going to let us switch to an income tax system — they have a conflict of interest and it’s big money,” Kennedy explained.

With one of the most regressive tax codes in the country, Biss would like to start with repealing the flat tax provision in Illinois’ Constitution and move on to a progressive income tax.

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He also pointed out the issues of school funding was an issue prior to current GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner taking office. As he put it, “things weren’t great in Illinois,” reminding guest two Democratic governors prior to Rauner were imprisoned.

“We have to defeat this horrible governor, but if we only defeat him and go back to whatever we had before Rauner — then shame on us. We need to understand what it was in Springfield, on both sides of the aisle, that stopped us from enacting the progressive policies that our state needs.”

Along with the three gubernatorial candidates, three legislators, Sen. Linda Holmes, Sen. Laura Murphy, and Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, were honored for their dedication and support of public education, labor unions and working families.

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As a member of the Pension Conference Committee Holmes has stayed committed to defending pension legislation, being the one dissenting vote on SB1.

She held fast to Illinois’ Constitution, which indicated pensions shall not be diminish. “You can’t change the terms of the contract once it’s in place. To me that seemed really, really obvious. Why it wasn’t obvious to everyone else [on the committee], I don’t know,” Holmes explained.

SB1 eventually made it’s way to the Illinois Supreme Court, where it unanimously ruled SB 1, unconstitutional.

“The morning I heard that, I really wanted to pour champagne over my cornflakes, I was so excited,” she said to laughs.

Looking ahead, Holmes and Welch are looking at charter schools. Both legislators are moving forward with HB 768, which creates a charter school application process where only locally elected school boards and parents could decide if a charter school is good for their community.

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Welch also is fighting to keep the recently passed tax credit program to five years.” “[Republicans] are going to try and make it go even further to where they get vouchers in the public school systems. If that happens, that’s going to destroy the public school systems. We need to be putting more money into our public schools and not taking out money,” he said.

Murphy also voted against the school voucher bill. She knows Rauner’s agenda is to eliminate unions and the pension members have earned. She’s going to continue fighting for public education, jobs, and to close corporate loopholes. “That’s how we make the middle class successful,” Murphy added.

Values will determine future Illinois governor

JB Pritzker for Governor

As candidate for Illinois’ governor, JB Pritzker has decades of service to humanitarian and philanthropic endeavors. He sees issues in Springfield with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s reform agendas, which want to devastate the nation’s middle class and shred the social safety net for the most vulnerable, and he wants to make changes for the better. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, June 1, 2017
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

JB Pritzker for Governor

WARRENVILLE — If you’re from Chicago, it’s likely the family name Pritzker means something to you.

It’s a name that’s synonyms with philanthropy and entrepreneurship and it’s also a name that’s seen a lot of ink on Forbes magazine’s “America’s Richest Families” list. His estimated net worth is $3.4 billion.

JB Pritzker’s happy to have his name known both ways.

While on the gubernatorial campaign trail, he was invited to Warrenville May 24 by Indivisible Naperville to field questions from its members and introduce himself as Pritzker the candidate.

JB Pritzker for Governor

Indivisible Naperville member Sandy Hill asked JB Pritzker what he thinks is the best way to retain qualified teachers. Pritzker told Hill, “If you don’t pay teachers properly, you don’t get good teachers.” Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Convincing Democrats current GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner has to be unseated in 2018 is an easy task. Convincing Democrats to replace the Republican’s “rich guy” with one of their own “rich guy” isn’t always an easy sell.

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Pritzker has an easy answer for them: the governor’s race is about values and what candidates stand for. “Before elected governor, Bruce Rauner never stood for anything. Then when he became governor, he suddenly had an agenda — a Koch brothers agenda,” Pritzker said.

Voters can chose from a number of pre-existing values Pritzker stands for, such as early childhood education, social and economic justice and historical preservation. “I grew up in a family where my parents taught me to stand up for the values we believe in,” he explained.

He says Rauner’s biggest issue is he doesn’t understand the difference in government when it comes to an expense, and an investment.

JB Pritzker for Governor

Indivisible Naperville member Sandy Hill asks gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker what he thinks is the best way to retain qualified teachers. Hill was one of about 200 guests who traveled to Warrenville to hear Pritzker speak. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

“The expenditures of government, sometimes, are really investments in people. In business they’re not counted as investments, but in government, they really are,” he explained.

JB Pritzker for Governor

The need to keep Illinois a blue state is more important now than ever, especially after every state around Illinois wen red in 2016.

“We say, ‘thank God Illinois’ blue,” but Republicans look at it and they see a bull’s-eye,” Pritzker warned.

With a Republican governor already working the Koch brother’s agenda, it will take a full-court press to keep Right-to-Work out of Illinois.

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“Right-to-Work sounds great — if you don’t know what it is,” Pritzker said to audience laughter. “I like to say it’s Right-to-Work for less money.”

Organized labor knows the importance of keeping Right-to-Work out of Illinois. For more than a year, union members have voiced their opposition to Right-to-Work at county board meetings across the state because it is a way to cripple organized labor.

“I really believe unions helped create the middle class in this country and unions help maintain decent wages in this country,” Pritzker said.