J.B. Pritzker: Experience solving problems and thinking big

This is one of a seies of essays produced in response to an invitation from the Daily Herald on the topic, "Why I Should Be Illinois' Next Governor." The two Republicans and seven Democrats who have announced bids to seek the state's top job all were invited to describe themselves and their core positions. Publication of the op-eds began with submission by incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner and will continue daily on the Opinion page. Democrat Tio Hardiman declined.

Creating jobs, expanding health care coverage, and improving schools - these ought to be priorities for our state, and they will be my priorities as your next governor. Illinois needs a leader who has experience solving problems and thinking big, who has leadership and vision to overcome our state's challenges and build a brighter future for our state, and a leader who has the courage to stand up against the regressive policies of Donald Trump.

I've worked for decades fighting for social and economic justice and solving big challenges for the people of Illinois. Whether it's making sure tens of thousands of low-income children get breakfast at school every day, expanding preschool and child care for thousands of at-risk children across Illinois, starting a non-profit small-business incubator that created thousands of jobs or helping Illinois become one of the top technology startup hubs in the world, I'm proud of my record of getting big things done for Illinois' working families and communities.

Our state has big challenges to overcome: living up to our pension obligations to seniors, paying the state's backlog of unpaid bills, making education more affordable and more equitable and repairing our crumbling infrastructure. We must also stand up against Donald Trump's attempts to take away health care from a million Illinoisans and Bruce Rauner's efforts to privatize our public education system.

To overcome these challenges, we must be bold and innovative. That's why I have introduced detailed plans to create jobs, expand health care and invest in education. It's also time to reform our state income tax to make it progressive, just as in most other states, so we can reduce property taxes. That way we can protect the middle class and those striving to get there.

It's time for the state to invest in creating jobs all across Illinois.

Our roads and bridges, mass transit and waterways are key to maintaining our edge as the transportation and supply chain hub of the nation. Investing in our infrastructure will help us create and grow jobs.

Two thirds of all jobs are created by small businesses and startups. My small-business plan supports our entrepreneurs and provides the capital and training they need to succeed.

Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. We need to expand health care for Illinois' working families and defend it from Donald Trump's attacks. My plan, IllinoisCares, gives middle class families a break on their insurance premiums and makes health care more affordable. It will make our state a national leader in the move toward universal health care.

Education is the foundation of our economy, and we have a responsibility to make sure every child gets a quality education. That means universal preschool and expanding quality child care for our youngest children. It will save our state money and strengthen our families.

We also need to bring back vocational training to high schools. And when young people go to college, they should be able to do that without strapping themselves with debt for the rest of their lives. Our young adults are the future of this economy, and they deserve every opportunity to succeed.

These are bold plans because that is exactly what Illinois needs right now to strengthen our families. But first we need to address the No. 1 obstacle to progress in our state: Bruce Rauner. This governor has brought us the lowest economic growth in five years, created a historic 736-day budget crisis, brought our budget deficit to historic proportions and severely diminished our safety net. Gov. Rauner continues to attack working families instead of doing his job.

I'm proud to have received the endorsements of state leaders like Secretary of State Jesse White, Comptroller Susana Mendoza and the Illinois AFL-CIO. They know, as I do, that it's time for a governor with the vision and courage to build a brighter future for Illinois and to put state government back on the side of working families.

Democrat J.B. Pritzker, of Chicago, is co-founder and managing partner of the Pritzker Group, an investment holding firm.

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