We are in one of the worst crises in modern American history. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost loved ones to COVID-19, while millions have lost their jobs and have no health insurance or financial stability. Americans are losing their homes and their land to raging wildfires and one of the worst hurricane seasons on record–which we know will only get worse without intervention.
Just like America’s response to the Great Depression, we must take bold action to put the people of the 3rd district and millions of Americans back to work and to address the looming crisis of climate change. We need a bold Green Stimulus package now.
- COVID-19 – We face the single greatest economic and public health disasters of our lifetimes. Over 200,000 Americans have died, 80,000 small businesses have closed since March, and the unemployment rate is at 10.2% nationally and 20.7% in Illinois as of September. This pandemic is highlighting the inequities that exist in our society: While the nation’s billionaires have increased their wealth by 29% –$845 billion– in the past 6 months, everyday Americans have suffered greatly. Black and Latino individuals are 2.7 times more likely to contract COVID-19 and currently have an unemployment rate nearly double that of white individuals.
- Climate Catastrophe – Fires are ravaging the west coast, burning over 6.6 million acres, killing more than 30 individuals, destroying buildings, and leaving thousands of families homeless or displaced. Meanwhile hurricanes are threatening thousands on our East Coast. Scientists inform us that this is our new normal if we fail to take action. This existential threat looms in our midst and it must be addressed with urgency. The latest research shows that we have 10 years left to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and cut CO2 emissions by 45% of 2010 levels to ensure that this earth is habitable for our grandchildren.
- Transportation, Transit and Infrastructure Issues in Illinois’ 3rd District – Only 10% of the workforce in the Third District uses public transportation, the worst rate in Northern Illinois. This is likely due to the fact that we have a number of transportation deserts in the district. These are areas where our transportation needs are not being met, like limited access to bus and “L” services on the Southwest side, the discontinued 31st street bus in Bridgeport, and infrequent service on Metra’s SouthWest Service Line. Illinois Third District is at the center of this nation’s rail network, which means that millions of tons of freight in rail cars and trucks move through our community every day. In addition to addressing inequities in our public transit system, we desperately need investments in infrastructure to modernize our roads, rails, and bridges to cut down on congestion and pollution.
Solutions for the Third District
We need a Green Stimulus package to put millions of Americans back to work, investing in the transportation and infrastructure needs of the 3rd District and this nation, with a lens towards solving our climate crisis. The package should include the following:
Job Creation- We must put Americans to work by investing in infrastructure improvements that will make our roads and our railways more efficient and in green technologies that will put us on a path towards a carbon neutral economy and infrastructure system. We can do this by investing in shovel ready projects that will improve the flow of commerce through our communities and the everyday lives of all of us who use these roads and vital infrastructure every day, and in large capital investments in infrastructure modernization and green technologies. Most importantly, we must stipulate that these investments utilize local labor, and that projects are coordinated with labor unions to ensure that we are creating opportunities for local union contractors, skilled tradespeople, and laborers. Additionally, this Green Stimulus package should be paired with a green workforce development program that gives 3rd District residents a direct pipeline to work in building a new, green economy.
Addressing the Climate Crisis – Now is the time to invest in the future, to put millions of people to work, to rehabilitate aging infrastructure, and to roll back climate change so that our children and grandchildren inherit a habitable planet. In addition to fixing existing transportation issues and eroding infrastructure, we need to think bigger. We must allocate funds to “greenifying” our infrastructure systems through investments in things like high speed rail, transit expansion, last-mile mircomobility programs, and environmentally friendly design and construction. In a world where transportation is designed for personal cars, I support green infrastructure projects that will truly innovate the way we think about our roads and incentivize greener forms of transportation. We will look at evidence based research to understand if there are imaginative solutions, like that of solar roads for example, that we are able to implement in the immediate future. We must invest in solutions that make public and private transportation faster, cheaper, and greener, using this moment to reimagine the future of transportation and infrastructure systems.
Rebuilding Justly – Decades of disinvestment and systemic racism have created deep socioeconomic inequities. In the process of rebuilding, we must be inclusive of all people by focusing on reversing the effects of systemic racism. We must actively include women, people of color, LGBTQ people, refugees, and immigrants–undocumented or otherwise.