Crystal Clear Vision for today and tomorrow

As Illinois’ United States senator my primary role will be to serve as an agent of economic change and prosperity for the people of Illinois. That includes two important tasks: to envision change and to catalyze change. Change is as much in the details as it is in the vision. My 20/20 Vision plan is more than a statement of ideas. It is a plan of action. As United States senator, I will pursue my 20/20 Vision to:  Build a new educational infrastructure and create jobs – including “green” jobs – in a revitalized manufacturing economy for the people of Illinois.  Promote research and development that will enable the United States to be a domestic producer of infrastructure systems such as high-speed rail and a leading global competitor in scientific fields such as biotechnology. The policy and legislative agenda of 20/20 Vision will channel economic stimuli to Main Street, in much the same way that recent stimulus packages have been directed to Wall Street. Our solutions will be long-term, because we can no longer afford to mortgage the prosperity of future generations through short-term quick fixes that remedy nothing. We need to first invest in our human capital and reshape our educational infrastructure: My 20/20 Vision links all levels of education to the economy. Improvement of our educational infrastructure to create sustainable jobs in Illinois and revitalization of the state’s manufacturing base is no small task. It will require federal policy that is dedicated to:  Strengthening education from early childhood through the university level.  Supporting training, research and development in fields that promote advanced manufacturing and create green jobs. Large corporations and smaller supply-chain manufacturing companies must work in tandem to increase global competitive advantage; businesses must partner with local governments and school districts to produce a well-educated and highly skilled workforce. I will draw on the many sources of human and institutional capital in our state that are already working independently toward strengthening education and paving the way for employment in green industries.

Educational policy and legislative agenda
20/20 Vision will include initiating and/or supporting federal policy for a fully articulated, educational infrastructure which focuses on one child at a time, beginning at early-childhood, continuing into secondary, and sustained through post-secondary and four-year education by:  Continuing the Early Learning Challenge Fund and other federal early care funding streams.  Creating funding for the establishment of polytechnical high schools, as well as expanding career and technical education.  Improving math and science instruction in public high schools and promoting the study of engineering at the university level.

 Strengthening post-secondary manufacturing training programs in community colleges.  Supporting advanced manufacturing and green-job creation through more research and development by public and private universities.  Ensuring that every Illinois student who seeks a college degree will have the resources needed to complete it.  Supporting Education Access legislation to enable every eligible low-income student to receive Pell Grants that cover at least 85% of the costs of attending a public university or college.  Reducing debilitating educational debt while promoting public service.  Providing Illinois school districts with the flexibility to develop innovative educational solutions and programs that address localized educational contexts and needs. o Including micro-grants for unique programs that serve special-needs students and the best and brightest students, one child at a time. As I pursue this legislative and policy agenda, I will also bring together a coalition of stakeholders from across Illinois to formulate a shared strategy; including the:  Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council, a partnership of stakeholders from the government-labor-business-communities. Since 2005 the CMRC has been working throughout northern Illinois to improve secondary and post-secondary education. Over the last two years CMRC has opened two high schools aligned with technology and advanced manufacturing.  The Illinois Community College Sustainability Network, a consortium of all 48 community colleges in the state. It is dedicated to providing training and expertise for the new energy economy and building a “green-collar” workforce in Illinois.  The Vermicomposting Center at Southern Illinois University, which puts millions of wiggler worms to work to consume tons of food waste. The center also develops sustainable initiatives including green construction techniques, industrial ecology and rain-water harvesting.  Local and regional economic development initiatives, such as the Danville-based Vermillion Advantage in east-central Illinois. This initiative works with businesses and schools to enhance workforce preparedness.

Revitalizing manufacturing and creating green jobs
20/20 Vision will create jobs in Illinois manufacturing and nurture green industries whose products reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our environment. I will initiate a comprehensive federal policy for rejuvenating manufacturing and creating jobs that:  Increases funding for research and development by publicly and privately held companies that supports advanced manufacturing and green-job creation.  Provides matching funds for manufacturers that offer in-house worker skills retraining.  Establishes a system of national skills standards for salaried and production manufacturing jobs through an education, training and verification system that will increase the global competitiveness of American advanced manufacturing.  Encourages the development and sustainability of small businesses as an immediate source of job creation through microloans, R&D incentives, accelerated depreciation and tax credits for new capital expenditures  Provides tax incentives for corporations that “in-source” job to local workforces in areas such as electronics-component manufacturing and assembly and software development.

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 Encourages the reverse flow of low-tech manufacturing (such as sewing and plastics) back “onshore” to the United States, where lower transportation costs and a weakened dollar can now yield efficient and profitable domestic production and distribution.  Funds a wind-turbine supply chain initiative to link local companies to rapidly expanding opportunities in the renewable-energy industry.  Increases funding to improve state manufacturing infrastructures, including increased broadband access and improved environmentally friendly electricity grids.

Labor policies
20/20 Vision includes pro-labor policies which have and can continue to improve the workplace for all Americans. In the U.S. Senate, I will be an advocate for labor and support:     Employee Free Choice Act Pension and benefit reform Education-to-employment pipeline Health-care benefits for retired workers

Environmental protection
20/20 Vision offers forward-looking environmental solutions that will reduce our consumption of fossil fuels – through sustainable practices, technology development and alternative energy sources – as the primary objective of environmental legislation that I will introduce and co-sponsor in the U.S. Senate. Legislation will include:  Telecommute tax credit: For employers that allow employees to work from home either full or part time.  Broadband Internet tax credit: To companies that provide areas without service, or increase speeds in areas with service.  Sustainable environmental choices: Support comprehensive cap-and-trade climate-change legislation that will provide incentives to reduce global-warming emissions while putting millions of people back to work in clean-energy jobs and promoting long-term economic growth, including:  vehicle fuel-cell/battery technologies  wind, solar, geothermal and biomass power  commercial building retrofits and home weatherization  mass transit, high speed rail and freight rail  high-speed broadband Internet access

Banking and securities regulation
20/20 Vision supports banking and securities regulation that protects the public interest and respects the free market. Lawmakers need to understand the organic, underlying relationship between jobs and regulation. Regulation is the prevention that heads off the need for critical-care treatment. Understanding this relationship is the first step in finding the cure to what ails us and preventing relapses. Therefore, as senator I will support legislation that:

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 Re-regulates financial markets in a way that makes clear distinctions between loans, securities and deposits.  Regulates the types of financial instruments that lead to the near-collapse of 2008, including derivatives and credit-default swaps.  Minimizes conflicts of interest in the granting and use of credit by the same entity.  Limits the financial power of depository institutions to ensure soundness and competition in the market for funds, whether loans or investments.  Limits the degree of risk in securities trading, where losses could threaten the integrity of deposits.  Creates parallel risk-management systems for depository institutions and securities businesses such as bank holding companies.  Caps bank interest rates, fees and other charges by financial institutions.  Creates consumer protections designed to eliminate abusive lending and banking practices. The state of our economy represents a tragic period in American history that did not have to happen. It has resulted from irresponsible government policy that has allowed the free market to go unchecked. Government policy needs to ensure that there are reasonable controls and limits on the market so that it operates in the best interests of the country as a whole and to ensure that the economy is not subject to massive peaks and plunges that yield devastating effects. My 20/20 Vision is the cornerstone of my campaign for U.S. Senate. It is a blueprint for creating jobs, reinvigorating the economy and revitalizing manufacturing in Illinois. Its ultimate goal is economic security for all Illinois families and workers – professionals and trades people, business owners and union workers alike. We can no longer afford to be a virtual service economy, leaving the production of physical things to other countries that have lower labor costs and environmental standards. Only by re-infusing our economy with the production of goods that we can use at home and sell abroad will we be able to secure our position as a leading nation whose strength and prosperity are certain.

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