The horror at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh cuts to the heart of our own community. This is the latest reminder of how easily anti-Semitism can become violence and murder.
I join the chorus of people offering thoughts and prayers for the victims and the communities suffering in Pittsburg and around the globe. I will be at a synagogue in Northbrook tonight to share space, reflect, and pray with members of our local Jewish community.
However, we must do more than pray. We as a society must demonstrate there is no room for anti-Semitism or for violence in our community.
As State Senator, one of my first pieces of legislation will be the Anti-Semitism Hate Crimes Act. This legislation will adopt the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism to help state and local law enforcement identify when a criminal act is motivated by anti-Semitism. For example, it would help prosecutors pursue state hate crime penalties against someone who paints a swastika on the front door of a Jewish fraternity (an addition of hate crime to the current crimes of graffiti and trespassing).
I am a strong supporter of the 1st Amendment right to free speech. This law would not outlaw Constitutionally protected speech that is unconnected to criminal behavior.
We must also work to keep extremely dangerous weapons out of the hands of people who would use them to kill. As someone recognized by Mom’s Demand Action as a Gun Sense Candidate, I will work to bring our community and state legislature together to help reduce gun violence.
As we mourn this senseless loss of life and innocence, let’s be vigilant for threats of hate and violence. Let's also work together to build a society that includes more love, caring and kindness. These are imperfect, but powerful, tools to combat hate.
From Arlington Heights to Northbrook, and from Deerfield to Lake Forest, all of our communities have had to pay the steep price of years of fiscal mismanagement by Illinois' legislative leaders.
And if there is any one issue that has come up over the course of this campaign that 29th district families are most concerned about, it is the financial squeeze being exerted on them by an out of control property tax system.
A property tax system exacerbated by the fact that the state of Illinois makes, according to national averages, one of the lowest contributions (28%) to the adequate funding of local school districts. Across the country, state's make an average 44% contribution.
Because of Illinois' dramatically underfunded pension systems (my pension plan is here), Springfield has made diminishing contributions to school district budgets across the state. And local governments, in turn, have responded by dramatically increasing property taxes.
This is the existential crisis facing Illinois' short and long term economic vitality.
If more and more families determine that their tax burden is untenable, as so many already have, they will pick up shop and vote with their feet. They have and will continue to leave our communities.
The net result will be the mass exodus of an entire generation of innovators, educators, and students that our state simply cannot afford.
"But Barrett," you'll say, "we already know all of that, so what's the solution?"
Well we know that my opponent, who has authored legislation that would have enabled school districts in Highland Park and Highwood to pass some of the largest property tax hikes in recent memory and even cast supporters of any property tax freeze initiatives as uninformed, has not demonstrated a serious commitment to tackling these challenges.
We also know that playing the blame game isn't going to get us very far either.
The only way we can change the decisions being made in Springfield is by changing the people we send there.
We need leaders who understand the burden that so many Illinois families have had to shoulder for too long.
We need leaders who will go down to Springfield and hold the line against unbalanced budgets, unsustainable tax hikes and more of this "kick the can down the road" mentality that is draining Illinois of it's potential.
By working with partners across the aisle to reorient our spending priorities and to get our pension system back, as I have committed to do, I know that I can be that strong advocate for our community that we so desperately need.
I’m Barrett Davie and one of the things I am going to bring to Springfield is my collaborative nature. I’ve consistently worked together with people from different perspectives and with diverging viewpoints to get things done. I’ve done this throughout my personal life, in my businesses career, and as board chair of Bernie’s Book Bank. I’ll bring this approach to Springfield too.
In our household, we live by a series of guiding principles, and one of those is we don’t focus on who’s right, we focus on what’s right.
We’ve got significant challenges here in Illinois, a series of hard problems we have to solve. The only way we are going to be successful is if we put the egos aside and begin to work together. Illinois needs capable leaders who know how to build coalitions of stakeholders with differing viewpoints to come together and solve these problems.
This is real work; this is hard work. I’m committed to doing it. Unfortunately, I’m just not seeing that out of my opponent and out of many of the folks down in the legislature. It’s time for a change.
Takeda Pharmaceuticals recently announced the closure of its headquarters in Deerfield. This is a tragic development for our community and for the approximately 1,000 families affected.
There are a number of reasons why Takeda has made this decision. Some of them surely have to do with Springfield malaise deteriorating our state’s business climate, but not everything is about politics.
Not more than a couple of hours after people in our community learned that their jobs are in jeopardy, my opponent Senator Julie Morrison, jumped straight to hyper-partisan finger-pointing, blaming the move on Governor Rauner.
I think it's the hyper-partisan blame game itself that is the most to blame. Businesses and families see our politicians screaming across each other and conclude that there is no one in government serious about solving problems.
If elected to represent you in the State Senate, I’ll focus on building comity and bi-partisan collaboration to help give employers confidence that Illinois is open for business.
The status quo politicians have run up more than $128 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. That liability may be double when considering local fire and police pensions. The IL Supreme Court’s decision to prohibit changes to existing pension promises makes reform more difficult and expensive, but it does not foreclose all opportunity.
This is not a partisan issue. We are all in this together. Dedicated teachers, law enforcement, first responders and other public employees are critical to our state’s prosperity. A compensation framework and retirement system that is competitive, dependable, and sustainable is in all of our best interests. It’s the failure of status quo politicians like Senator Julie Morrison and Mike Madigan to focus on this situation that puts Illinois at an existential crossroads.
I will consider any good faith pension reform proposal. However, I support the following steps to begin making measurable progress toward a sustainable system:
- All new employees must be moved to a 401(k) style defined contribution plan and should participate in and benefit from Social Security. We have to stop increasing the population of employees within an unsustainable system while also ensuring critical professions (teachers, police and fire) are attractive to future employees.
- Moral responsibility and the Supreme Court decision both support our keeping our promises to public workers and retirees depending on pension for their retirement. Funding these very generous promises recklessly made by status quo politicians will require renegotiation of existing debt and new borrowing.
- The ability to develop and pass a new structure for future employees allowing us to define and cap our existing long-term obligations freeing rating agencies to improve Illinois’ worst in the nation credit rating. This move is desperately needed to lower borrowing costs and renegotiate current debt at better rates.
- The state will then also be in a better position to think about alternative approaches to retire current obligations. For example, the term of the bonds could be stretched to match the long-term nature of the obligations, reducing the annual interest payment amount.
- The 653 local fire and police pensions must be managed by a central body. This will allow them to protect their respective shares while obtaining the benefits of economies of scale. My opponent identified this as something she supports but doesn’t have the courage to advance it because of union opposition* (we need leaders who are truly independent of special interests and willing to push back on them on behalf of the people and small businesses of our state). This proposal has been politicized and fear mongered. We can drive better returns for a combined effort. We can still provide the local control desired on issues of disability and workers compensation. Building trust here is critical. Solutions are required by both those who serve in uniform and our municipalities saddled with funding the currently ineffective system. My father was a Chicago policeman for 35 years and my mother has lived on a CPD widow’s pension for 14 years. I understand the importance of these benefits and believe we have a responsibility to be good stewards of a dependable system for current and future generations.
The opioid epidemic is a massive crisis in Illinois. Over 2,000 individuals lost their lives to overdosing and complications related to addiction to opiates in 2017.
Each one of these victims of addiction leave behind family and friends who miss them dearly, a feeling that my own family understands all too well. A year ago, my brother-in-law took his own life in my home after a lifelong battle with addiction and depression. The pain of losing a close loved one forced my family to face and discuss some very serious issues like addiction, depression, and suicide.
While I reflect on the memory of my brother-in-law and lives of so many others that have been lost to this disease, I can’t help but think about what could have been done to prevent these tragedies.
This campaign for Senate has given me the opportunity to meet with grieving families, health care experts, and community leaders to gain a broader perspective. I've learned that our community has some fantastic resources for families struggling with addiction and mental illness. I’ve also learned that our legislators in Springfield have been derelict in their duty to prioritize this issue.
That is why I am committed to giving a strong voice to our community leaders who need more allies in our state government. As your state senator, I will do the hard-work work of building consensus to develop and execute meaningful and measurable solutions to combat this horrible epidemic.
For me, this fight is personal.
Please don't delay in seeking help if you or someone you love is struggling with addiction. This is not something you should try and solve on your own. I am eager to refer you to some local organizations, including Live4Lali, who can help you.
It is no secret that for the last few decades, lawmakers in Springfield have brought Illinois' financial condition to a breaking point.
It is also no secret that we have arrived at this point because many of those same lawmakers, like my opponent Senator Julie Morrison, lack the will and competency necessary to solve our state's most pressing challenges. As debt and pensions crowd out our funding priorities, my opponent offers up no comprehensive plan for repair - just bleak acceptance to a gradual decline. Our most vulnerable people in this state deserve better.
As former chairman of the Board at Bernie's Book Bank, I have had the opportunity to lead an effort that is increasing book ownership among at-risk infants, toddlers, and school-aged children across Chicagoland.
The opportunity to serve this wonderful organization has left a lasting impact on how my family and I view the role and responsibility we all play in looking out for our fellow citizens.
While Bernie's is a charity that has been fortunate enough to be funded entirely by private contributions, I cannot begin to imagine what it would feel like to consider closing our doors due to the lack of adequate state funding.
With this in mind, I firmly believe that one of our state government's core responsibilities is to provide a strong and dependable social safety net that helps move people forward. Right now, under the leadership of Mike Madigan and Julie Morrison, our funding priorities are increasingly crowded out by debt payments and pension obligations.
Change Starts Right Here, with us!