SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, took critical steps toward building a stronger Illinois this session by advocating for good-paying jobs, affordable health care and tax relief for the middle class while passing a responsible, balanced budget.
“My goals as a new state representative were to strengthen Illinois by strengthening the middle class,” Hernandez said. “We must continually take steps that will grow the economy and create jobs that will pay well, relieve the tax burden on a middle class that has borne the brunt of an unfair system for too long, and ensure health care is affordable for all Illinoisans. While I have taken some significant first steps, there is more work to be done.”
Hernandez passed a budget that manages spending while sustaining investment in crucial services. Hernandez’s budget further invests $375 million for public schools, and provides much-needed funding for health care, senior care and veterans’ services. Over $1 billion has been set aside to pay bills remaining from the Rauner-era budget crisis, and makes required pension payments.
Hernandez also helped pass several economic develop bills which were designed to spark the growth of good-paying across Illinois. These bills included the 21st Century Employment grant program, legislation that grants funding to community colleges, high schools and greater access to vocational and practical skills-based education that is available to all Illinoisans. She also backed the Worker Protection Unit in the Attorney General’s office, which was created to ensure workers received steady wages, safe working conditions and fair treatment.
“We need jobs that are paying $35, $40 dollars an hour or more,” Hernandez said. “Those jobs require a good functional education. It is also crucial that we make sure workers are well-treated. It doesn’t matter how well-compensated people are if they never get a paycheck, and it doesn’t matter what work someone is doing if conditions are unsafe. Our new Worker Protection Unit will fight for workers’ rights.”
Affordable health care was also a crucial focus for Hernandez. She supported the Pharmacy Benefit Manager’s Article and the Prescription Drug Pricing Transparency Act, both of which focused on forcing pharmaceutical companies and insurance agencies to price medications clearly and fairly. Hernandez also worked against the radical Trump agenda that targeted the Affordable Care Act, putting millions of Illinoisans’ health coverage in jeopardy.
“Filling a new prescription or visiting a doctor should not force people to have to dip into their savings,” Hernandez said. “Medical care is a major cost for many households, and that has to change. Staying healthy isn’t optional. Skipping an emergency room visit because it will cost too much is not a choice anyone should have to make. There are special interests dead set on putting profits over the wellbeing and even the lives of the people of Illinois. Massive pharmaceutical companies and insurance agencies are now even the president are trying to make care unaffordable. I will not let that happen.”
Hernandez passed the Fair Tax amendment, which shifts the tax burden off middle-class taxpayers and onto the wealthy. While middle-class families bear too much of a burden under the current tax system, Hernandez’s Fair Tax plan cuts taxes on 99.7% of local residents, while making millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share to balance the budget and fund critical services like education and health care.
“The Fair Tax is crucial legislation that will form the foundation of our plans for Illinois’ future,” Hernandez said. “While there is plenty more work to do to make our tax system completely fair, this is a critical step toward putting the middle class first. The tax relief this brings to 99.7% of people here in our community, combined with the money it brings in for schools, health care and other essential services, which will have a huge positive impact for years to come.”
Hernandez also recently helped pass the Reproductive Health Act. While states like Alabama, Georgia, Missouri and more are passing outrageous restrictions with the goal of stripping away the federal protections of a woman’s right to choose, Hernandez voted to make women’s health care a fundamental right in Illinois. The bill ensures women here will always have the right to make their own medical decisions – regardless of what Donald Trump and extreme politicians in other states do.
“Everywhere we look, women are having their rights taken away,” Hernandez said. “States all over the Midwest are limiting access to needed women’s health care, and we have radical Supreme Court justices who have gone on record saying they are against reproductive rights. Illinois has to act to keep these freedoms safe and ensure that women everywhere have control over their bodies.”