"I am ready to serve and put our communities first. Through lived experiences, I understand the challenges ahead and I am ready."
Our economy has not recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. Small businesses are struggling, inflation is raising the cost of goods, mortgage rates are at their highest, student loan debt continues its straggled hold on our families, and homeowners received an increase on their property tax bill. Our working families are struggling, and they need relief. As State Senator, I will focus on bringing union-skilled jobs and the respected skill set training to the forefront, empowering individuals to have good-paying jobs and benefits. As well as getting the youth involved in the trades and helping at-risk youth in underserved communities move from the streets to productive careers. We must focus on our small businesses as they continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. We must assist them with grants to help them get back on their feet. I will also work with the private sector to build incubator programs to assist small businesses, and encourage entrepreneurship.
We must continue to invest in our public-school education instead of disinvesting. We continue to see teachers being laid off and programs being eliminated. We cannot allow for budget cuts to our public schools. Instead we must invest in STEM programs in high schools, CTE centers and build trade apprenticeships with local unions. I will also advocate for accessible pre-k education for all our families and special education for children with learning disabilities and deaf and hard of hearing. The lack of these programs being accessible in more schools makes it a burden to our families, that must travel to other communities to receive the help they need. I also believe that childcare should be accessible to all families unable to afford it. The state should open its childcare eligibility to more families and make a streamlined system to allow more providers to become licensed.
Our families deserve to feel safe in their community. We need to tackle the root causes of violence, or we will not progress. Countless decades of disinvestment in our underserved communities must end. We must invest in mental health and reopening all the mental health clinics that closed a few years ago. We must keep our at-risk youth away from our streets and back in our schools. One initiative is to focus on after-school activities and building community hubs where our youth have a safe place to stay after school. I look forward to working with community organizations that are doing the work now. We must support our men and women in blue with the necessary resources to help keep our communities safe. We cannot have Police officers handle all situations; we need to invest in mental health providers to assist police officers when dealing with a mental health crisis. We should focus on additional training in de-escalation and domestic violence.
Healthcare is a human right, and we must continue to fight to make it a reality. We must continue to work on helping Illinoisans with the cost of life-saving medication like insulin. I applaud our state's efforts to cap insulin prices; that is a good step towards making lifesaving medicines accessible to all. We must also continue to make gains in technologies like biomarker testing. Bio Marker testing can identify cancer in early stages, increasing the chances of defeating the disease. We must continue strengthening critical access hospitals in our rural communities and eliminating healthcare deserts across the state. We must also protect our safety net hospitals as they serve our underserved communities and ensure our hospitals and nursing homes are safely staffed.
The voice of working people in this country is something we must always protect from those that want to eliminate it. We must protect workers from interference, outside influence, and anti-union efforts. Workers must have the right to bargain over wages, benefits, and matters that affect their working conditions. I am proud to receive the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, CFL, Teamsters Local 916, Chicago Fire Fighters Union Local 2, Iron Workers, SEIU State Council, and SEIU Health Care. As a Union Representative, I fought for the rights of working-class workers, and as a State Senator, I will continue that fight.