SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Following the end of legislative session this weekend, state Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, released the following statement:
“One month after I had the honor of becoming state Representative, the House voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. This was just one of the major steps forward that the General Assembly took this year to make Illinois a state where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
“Over the past few months, I’ve introduced legislation to expand access to quality early childhood education, crack down on predatory lenders seeking to take advantage of vulnerable people and to make our streets safer by investing in communities that have been left behind for far too long. Bills I sponsored to remove barriers to housing and job opportunities faced by individuals who’ve committed nonviolent crimes, and to protect victims of violent crime and sexual assault, now await the Governor’s signature.
“After years of hard work by advocates that have been devastated by the impact of the War on Drugs on black neighborhoods, the General Assembly voted to legalize marijuana and expunge the records of people who have languished in prison simply for possessing cannabis. While provisions of the bill that increase investment in our neighborhoods and ensure minority-owned businesses are included in the new cannabis industry and are a good start, I will continue advocating to expand opportunities for individuals who’ve been impacted most by the criminalization of drugs and heal our community.
“Voters will have a historic opportunity next year to amend our constitution and implement a Fair Tax system that will allow 97% of people statewide to pay less than or equal to what they owe now, while raising critical funds for investment in our schools, infrastructure and social services.
“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, but my true focus is on the work left to be done. We have got to make investments in our roads, bridges and public transportation a priority. While the capital bill that will be signed into law is a good start, it will take years of effort to make our infrastructure safe and conducive to a growing economy. Opportunities for minority-owned businesses must be expanded to create jobs in the communities that need them most. To give the children of our city the quality education they deserve, we must continue fighting for an elected school board that is truly accountable to the people, not politicians or wealthy donors.
“I’m looking forward to discussing my priorities and gaining new ideas through conversations with residents of the 26th District this summer.”