Illinois Gubernatorial candidate Ameya Pawar laid out his plan to unite the state during a public appearance in Jacksonville yesterday.
An alderman for Chicago’s 47th ward, Pawar’s statewide bus tour made a stop at the Community Park Center for around an hour yesterday. The Democratic candidate outlined specific goals for his campaign and for the future of Illinois, followed by a question-and-answer session with local residents in attendance.
As Pawar explains, his gubernatorial campaign, dubbed “A New Deal For Illinois,” rests on four planks.
“We have to stop relying on property taxes to pay for public schools, and that means we need a progressive income tax so that we can fund all schools equitably. The second plank is Universal Child Care. If we say we have family values, we actually have to value families, and that means recognizing that for many families, child care costs more what they make in a month, that’s immoral. The third plank is a Jobs and Capital Bill, rebuild our parks, our tourism infrastructure, invest in our river towns, invest in tourism infrastructure in central and southern Illinois. And the fourth plank is Criminal Justice Reform. We have to stop sending people to jail for low-level drug offenses,” says Pawar.
Going back to the candidate’s four planks, Pawar expands on the importance of public education, and in turn, proper funding for Illinois’ public schools.
“Public schools and public education is the building block of a community. It not only educates children, but it sustains property values, it drives economic growth, it helps people move to a community and retire there. Schools, while their most important function is to train our young people for tomorrow, to educate them, their secondary function is also to be the basic building block of a community. They’re sort of like the skeleton of a community, nothing else exists without the skeletal part of the community which is a public school,” Pawar explains.
Much of the news coming from Springfield last week dealt with Senate Bill 1 and Governor Bruce Rauner’s views towards it. Senate Bill 1 proposes an evidence-based funding formula for Illinois schools. When asked his thoughts on the piece of legislation, Pawar says he supports Senate Bill 1, and that it’s essential for Rauner to sign it into law, despite the Governor’s promise to issue an amendatory veto to the bill and threaten a special session should the bill not reach his desk by noon today.
Another key talking point was the concept of an urban-rural divide, specifically between Chicago and downstate Illinois. Ultimately, Pawar says, the goal in his race for Governor is unity.
“Rural communities are centers for our agrarian economy. What people grow on their farms ends up on our financial markets, so those high-flying traders won’t have anything to trade if our farmers aren’t doing their hard work on the farm. We’re all interconnected. So if we continue to look at one another as ‘the other,’ instead of coming together as neighbors, then the only people who can get ahead are people like Bruce Rauner and his wealthy friends. We are all Illinoisans, we rise and fall together,” says Pawar.
With lengthy stalemates over myriad issues at the Capitol having been well-chronicled, Pawar was asked how he plans to work with state lawmakers and actually accomplish these goals. Pawar says the answer to that question isn’t simply explained. He says however, that he welcomes partisanship, because it often propels lawmakers towards compromise.
Aside from Bruce Rauner, Pawar’s opponents in the 2018 race for Governor include fellow Democrats Daniel Biss, Bob Daiber, Scott Drury, Chris Kennedy, Alex Paterakis and J.B. Pritzker, as well as Republican William Kelly. The next gubernatorial election will take place in November of 2018.