Out with the old, in with the New Deal.
President Roosevelt’s New Deal took our country out of depression and laid the foundation for decades of growth and prosperity. We can do the same thing in Illinois by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, reinvesting in good-paying jobs, and recommitting to early childhood education and public schools. And we can do it without further burdening the middle class.
Increase funding to all public schools by eliminating corporate tax loopholes and make millionaires pay their fair share.
Provide universal access to child care and support working families with paid sick leave, fair scheduling practices, parental leave, and a living wage.
JOBS & INFRASTRUCTURE
Create tens of thousands of new middle-class jobs with a New Deal infrastructure program.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Pass criminal justice reform and refocus resources from prisons to diversion programs, job training and placement, and social and mental health services.
AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION
Voting is at the center of our civic life. Eliminating barriers that keep people from the ballot box are key to competitive elections, which ensure elected officials are responsive to the needs of their communities. That’s why Ameya supports automatic voter registration, which would register virtually every adult to vote unless they decline. Bruce Rauner vetoed an automatic voter registration bill in an effort to suppress voting. The United States is one of only a handful of nations around the world that places needless barriers on voting. That is wrong. We must change the system here in Illinois, and increase voter participation and turnout. As governor, Ameya will work to do just that and ensure competitive elections at every level of government.
BUDGET FOR ALL
An Infrastructure of Core Services
Passing a budget is the least we can do in state government. It ensures a well-maintained infrastructure of social services that are essential to the well-being of millions of Illinois residents—and their well-being affects the safety and economic security of all. Yet we’ve watched for years as our leaders have failed to even propose, let alone pass, a balanced spending plan for Illinois. An honest account of Illinois’ fiscal situation demands fundamental changes to our approach to meet our challenges.
Bruce Rauner believes fiscal salvation lies in cutting the wages of working families and reducing the quality of government services. But time and again, in other states and countries, such austerity has failed to revitalize economies or strengthen communities. It only divide people by class, race, and region. We cannot simply cut our way out of decades of mismanagement on both sides of the aisle.
This mismanagement has now undermined our network of social services. Non-profit social service providers in communities across our state are engaged in critical work helping people confront and conquer life’s challenges. The budget impasse has created a backlog of bills that is forcing providers to cut staff, eliminate programs, and extend their lines of credit to the maximum. They aren’t being paid what they were promised. And our state credit rating has been repeatedly downgraded, raising our borrowing costs and burdening the next generation. The human and financial costs are growing by the day.
Ameya Pawar believes government can be a force for good—but we have to elect people who believe in it. Ameya will bolster programs that increase the quality of life for people in Illinois, whether domestic violence victims, children, or people with mental illness. Instead of seeking to do more with less, we will seek to make the greatest impact we can with our limited resources, seeking out innovative ways to fund social programs that will better support working people and expand our economy.
How To Fund It
To fund these essential investments, the reality is that Illinois needs new revenue. That doesn’t have to mean continuing to live under the burden of our broken tax system. After all, Illinois is overly reliant on property taxes, sales taxes, and other regressive taxes that hit working families harder than anyone else. The time has come in Illinois for progressive taxation that ensures the wealthy pay their fair share.
As governor, Ameya will lead a comprehensive analysis of our neighboring states and best practices across the country to advance a plan to reform our systems of taxation in Illinois. As the 5th largest economy in the country, we have the resources to support the needs of our state. It will just need a bigger commitment from the most fortunate among us.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
A good criminal justice system fosters strong communities—keeping us safe while ensuring that people caught up in the system can become productive members of society. But that’s not what Illinois has. Our criminal justice system has become a maze where too many people go straight to prison and don’t have enough paths out. We spend $1.4 billion a year on overcrowded prisons that fail to help people leave the maze, whether through mental health services, addiction treatment, or job training. That’s why half the people who leave prison in Illinois return within three years—costing the state money and undermining public safety.
Under Bruce Rauner, pathways out of the system are getting even more closed off. The failure to have a budget for three straight years has gutted funding for the very social services that keep our communities safe and thriving—including youth programs. Rauner wants us to see these cuts as someone else’s problem, but they affect everyone.
Ameya’s New Deal for criminal justice would build pathways to opportunity so people can permanently exit the criminal justice system. In addition, Ameya recognizes that far too often, people with mental health crisis or substance abuse problems are unfairly arrested and imprisoned. We must invest in mental health, social services, and intervention programs in communities across Illinois and make large public investments in job creation programs to address poverty and inequality as part of a broad and holistic effort to create a more just state. To cut off the community-to-prison pipeline at its root, we must invest in our people and create opportunity.
ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD
Public schools should be accountable to parents and the public. Over half of the property tax bills paid by Chicagoans go to Chicago Public Schools (CPS). That’s why Ameya supports an elected school board for CPS. Having a board selected by the mayor diminishes public accountability and is simply undemocratic. Unaccountable board members have little incentive to serve the public and sometimes place the interests of the wealthy ahead of the well-being of students. Chicago’s appointed school board has overseen the mass closure of public schools, privatization of school cleaning services, and continuing expansion of charter schools. Electing a school board is not a silver bullet, but it’s an important reform to help restore faith in the system that serves nearly 400,000 students in Chicago. Every other school district in the state has an elected board. Chicago must have one as well. Ameya supports HB 1774, sponsored by Rep. Rob Martwick, that would create an elected board for CPS.
We are responsible for protecting the environment not only for ourselves, but for future generations. Climate change is real, and we must confront it head-on. Illinois has been a leader in clean energy, and Ameya will continue to build on that legacy by prioritizing carbon reduction in new infrastructure projects and working to ensure our regulations incentivize the development of renewable energy. Part of the solution is maintaining and updating existing infrastructure where possible, rather than building anew. By prioritizing repair and maintenance we can reduce environmental impact. As Republicans work to dismantle environmental protection at the federal level, Illinois must stand ready to step up and protect our air and water. Bruce Rauner opposed helping schools across Illinois test for lead and providing funds for updating hazardous pipes. Ameya will stand with families and do all he can to ensure all possible steps are being taken to protect our children from the hazards of lead.
Everyone deserves equal rights, regardless of who one loves or one’s gender identity. As Governor, Ameya will not tolerate discrimination of any kind in Illinois. That’s why Ameya supports the full inclusion of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) neighbors, friends, and family members. Ameya will protect and honor marriage equality and transgender rights as well as deploy anti-bullying campaigns. He will vigorously uphold all laws to protect the LGBT community from discrimination and will strengthen Illinois’ commitment to equal rights for all people.
EQUITABLE SCHOOL FUNDING
Good education is the foundation of economic mobility. It provides a pathway to the middle class, the American Dream, and generational wealth while ensuring everyone can contribute to their community. Our K-12 schools should be a pipeline to trade and vocational schools, community colleges, and universities. A strong pipeline will attract businesses from around the country and world—because employers understand that their workers want strong and stable communities with strong local schools. Equitable education funding is the linchpin of a growing economy that works for everyone.
But across Illinois, many communities don’t get a fair chance due to the way Illinois funds education. Local property taxes determine kids’ educational opportunities—making a child’s zip code more important than hard work. In fact, our state has the nation’s largest funding gap based on where kids grow up, with schools in high-income districts receiving about 20% more funding than schools in low-income districts. That’s morally wrong—and it damages our state’s workforce and competitiveness.
Bruce Rauner is entirely out of touch with the inequity, which may be why he has undermined every attempt to help neighborhood schools around the state and close the opportunity gap. He vetoed a bill that would give more funding to struggling public schools. And he has refused to support numerous efforts to distribute funding more fairly, especially to districts with poor students. Instead, he has tried to divide teachers from parents, one community against the next, and rural communities against urban areas. This is all an effort to prevent progressive policies to ensure the rich pay their fair share to reduce inequity in public education. We can improve educational opportunity—but we need a governor who believes it matters.
Ameya proposes to make quality education available everywhere in the state. He would work with public education advocates, policy experts, and legislators to recalculate the public school funding formula and direct more dollars into the schools that need it most. He would also give greater support to educational practices that research has shown to improve student achievement, knowing that equity must be paired with actual results for our youth. Ameya would reject approaches that rely on increased property taxes or that take existing funding away from any school.
EXPANDING FINANCIAL AID
Going to college is a pathway to success for countless young people in Illinois. If students have the drive and ability to pursue higher education but don’t have enough money, we need to support them—not just for their sake, but also to create a workforce for the future that maintains our state’s economic competitiveness. Just as important, we must lessen the student loan debt that is weighing down consumer spending, wealth creation, and forcing many young people to delay life decisions. Forcing students to take on so much debt just to attend college is wrong.
Yet for current and future college students, Bruce Rauner has gutted the Monetary Award Program (MAP), a program that has supported the dreams of low-income young people across Illinois by enabling them to go to college. Rauner is dividing rich from poor instead of being willing to create a budget that would help everyone succeed. We cannot allow young people and our state’s economic future to be casualties of political power games in Springfield.
Ameya proposes a large expansion of the Monetary Award Program (MAP) to reduce the cost of attending a college or university. He also proposes using the authority of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to offer a student loan refinancing program that lowers interest rates and monthly payments for students who agree to stay in Illinois. These steps would put hundreds of dollars per month into the pockets of college graduates—creating opportunities for saving and investment, increased local spending, and home ownership.
We are a nation of immigrants. Ameya’s father grew up in India with no running water or electricity, doing homework by candlelight. Ameya’s parents came to Illinois reach for the American Dream. They found it. That’s why Ameya knows first-hand that welcoming immigrants is a core American value—and a critical part of growing our economy. Illinois is home to more than 1.8 million immigrants, and over 21% of Illinois business owners are foreign-born. Ameya believes we cannot sit by and let politicians divide us, pitting one community against the next. While Bruce Rauner remains silent in the face of Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, Ameya and his family strongly reject and will resist it. Ameya will continue to stand up for the rights of immigrants and remind people of the ways they contribute to our state and country.
Ameya also supports the settlement of refugees in Illinois. People fleeing war zones and oppression need our help. Yet Rauner, like Trump, has rejected refugees coming in from Syria. Refugees cross deserts and oceans in search of freedom, and Illinois should stand ready to give them the opportunity to pursue a brighter future. In addition, Ameya supports the Illinois TRUST Act. Ameya calls on Governor Rauner to voice his support to protect our immigrant families, friends, and neighbors by working to pass the bill.
JOBS AND PUBLIC WORKS
All work has dignity—and good-paying jobs allow communities to flourish. FDR’S New Deal helped our state and country climb out of the depths of the Great Depression by creating living wage jobs that built our national parks, roads, bridges, libraries, schools, post offices, and other transformational infrastructure we still use and enjoy today. The New Deal also invested in the arts and culture through the Federal Art Project, which put artists back to work creating posters, painting murals, and building community art centers. Ameya believes it is time to make such investments again through his New Deal for Illinois.
Ameya will champion a public works program for the whole state, strengthening communities that have been left behind by decades of disinvestment. Ameya believes we can create eco-tourism opportunities along the Mississippi River and elsewhere while investing heavily in cities and rural communities alike by focusing on public school infrastructure, water and sewer mains, and roads and bridges that are rapidly decaying. The effort will create thousands of jobs directly through construction and thousands more indirectly as work multiplies, benefiting both workers and employers.
Bruce Rauner has failed to deliver an infrastructure plan or generate living wage jobs. Springfield has been limping from year to year with no long-range plan to modernize our infrastructure. This neglect cannot continue, especially when Illinois has one of the worst unemployment rates in the nation. We need a new vision for putting Illinois to work and prioritizing projects that generate the largest returns for our diverse economy—recognizing the different needs of different regions while connecting every part of Illinois to foster growth for decades to come. Instead of staying divided, we must work together as one state with a public works plan that helps all of Illinois.
MONEY IN POLITICS
Big money has taken over politics. The wealthy and large corporations wield far too much influence through campaign donations. That influence has only grown with the help of the Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United, allowing those with money to dominate our political process. Although campaigns require money, billionaires like Donald Trump and Bruce Rauner routinely use their wealth to bust contribution limits and discourage everyday people from pursuing public office. And the influence of a few billionaires is having a corrosive effect on our democracy. Ameya believes Illinois must strengthen its laws around contribution limits and provide matching funds for candidates who raise the bulk of their campaign money from small donations. We would all benefit from a system that allows our leaders to spend more time crafting policy and engaging the public and less time courting wealthy donors.
SUPPORT WORKING FAMILIES
The economy is supposed to work for everyone. Growth should be shared. But in Illinois and across the country, economic gains since the Great Recession have gone almost entirely to the top 1%. Inequality is higher than it’s been for generations. Working families—from the working poor to the upper middle class—are still facing anxiety and instability. We need a state government that supports working families in their pursuit of the American dream.
Bruce Rauner doesn’t believe growth needs to be shared. He has advocated lowering or even eliminating the minimum wage. He has made union-busting a keystone of his agenda, declaring repeatedly that he will not support a state budget until his anti-worker demands are met. The result has been worse than gridlock: it’s been an erosion of the social service infrastructure that many residents depend on. Rauner’s vision is the opposite of what Illinois needs—and it represents an attempt to divide Illinoisans by class rather than unite us in common cause. The division must end.
As governor, Ameya will work to foster an economy that benefits everyone, not just the wealthiest handful of people in the state. He believes in robust support for working families, including a $15 minimum wage, guaranteed paid sick days, guaranteed paid parental leave after a child is born, and fair scheduling practices that will increase stability and allow workers to balance job and family obligations.
UNIVERSAL EARLY CHILD CARE & EDUCATION
All children should be able to get off to a good start in life, no matter where they live. Yet working families across Illinois are struggling to balance their professional and family responsibilities. Illinois is home to just over 1 million children under age six. 67% of these kids have working parents or caregivers—and 43% are low-income. All too often, the cost of early care and education forces an adult from the workforce and becomes a driving force behind income inequality.
Economists have concluded that for every $1 invested in quality early care and education, there is a $4-8 return to the community. But Bruce Rauner cut childcare supports by 90%, making it nearly impossible for working families to access childcare assistance. These cuts reduce people’s ability to work, give their kids a fair chance, and balance work and family. Simply put, Bruce Rauner’s cuts were immoral.
Ameya believes working families must have universal access to early care and education as part of his New Deal for Illinois. His childcare program will expand subsidies to working families. Returns on this investment will not only benefit children directly but also create thousands of jobs for qualified professionals, serving as an economic stimulus to families and communities throughout our state.