As a member of the Illinois State Senate, Gary serves as the Chairman of the Senate Labor Committee and is a member of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities and Licensed Activities and Pensions committees.
Revitalizing Southern Illinois’ Coal Industry
In Southern Illinois, we are well-known for supplying the coal that helps power the region and the state. As a member of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee, Gary believes we must pursue an all-of-the-above energy strategy to reduce energy prices and create jobs here at home.
Cumbersome state and federal bureaucracy hampers our energy production, increasing the time it takes to receive the permits needed to expand coal mines. That’s why Gary passed an initiative to make it easier for local mines to obtain permits to help cut through government red tape and allow mines to expand and create jobs. Gary also took on Barack Obama and the EPA to help open four new coal mines in Southern Illinois and expand another mine in Galatia, creating hundreds of good-paying jobs.
Gary is also working with other downstate lawmakers to push a coal investment plan that would incentivize the state to burn more Illinois coal, raising both demand and employment in the region.
A budget is about setting priorities. We need a balanced budget but not at the expense of working families in Southern Illinois. Gary voted “no” on Governor Quinn’s 67 percent income tax increase because balancing the budget on the backs of middle-class taxpayers is not the solution.
Shuttering state facilities is not a solution either. We need to be creating jobs, not handing out pink slips. That’s why Gary is fighting Governor Rauner’s attempts to close the Franklin County Detention Center, Sparta Shooting Range and Hardin County Work Camp. He also pushed back against Rauner’s attempts to starve our local colleges of resources by joining colleagues on both sides of the aisle to approve necessary funding.
Standing Up for Southern Illinois’ Working-Class Families
A hard day’s work should lead to a fair day’s pay. It’s a value that families all across Southern Illinois share, and one that Gary has worked to protect during his time in Springfield. But not everyone in Springfield shares that belief. Governor Rauner is pushing an agenda that will undermine middle-class economic security. The governor’s plan will drive down wages, strip away employee protections against abusive employers and end collective bargaining. Gary believes that the key to improving our economy is to strengthen the middle class, not weaken it.
Education Funding Reform
A student’s ZIP code shouldn’t determine the type of education they receive. Unfortunately, that is a reality in Illinois. Our state has the least equitable public school funding system in the country, and downstate students have been penalized for decades because of it. That is why Gary voted to overhaul our broken school funding system to bring $57 million more to Southern Illinois schools. This much-needed reform will lead to lower property taxes, greater investment in the education of our children and grandchildren and fairer funding for Southern Illinois schools.
Protecting Our Seniors
When services for seniors were on Rauner’s chopping block, Gary took a stand and said enough is enough. He knows the importance of making sure services like the Community Care Program and Meals on Wheels stay afloat to keep seniors in their homes and ensure they receive the care they deserve.
Gary fights for senior citizens and has continued to keep senior issues on the forefront of his legislative agenda, including supporting an initiative to protect the elderly against perpetrators of financial exploitation.
Investment in Southern Illinois
Gary has worked closely with local mayors and city administrators to bring taxpayer money back to communities in Southern Illinois. He helped secure millions of dollars in state grants to replace water lines in cities all across the 59th Senate District.
Forby knows the importance of ensuring Southern Illinois has the resources it needs to keep key construction projects in the region. When the Illinois Department of Transportation announced it was going to cease road construction projects, Forby acted quickly to ensure funding for these projects remained in Southern Illinois.
Governor Rauner’s drastic cuts to higher education are having a devastating impact on our local communities. When Southern Illinois University and local community colleges called on legislators to help avoid massive layoffs so they could continue to provide excellent education to students throughout the region, Gary responded by joining other lawmakers to ensure the colleges received the resources they need to avoid massive layoffs.
Southern Illinois Values
Our values are what separate Southern Illinois from the rest of the state. That’s why Gary has fought so hard to protect our values from Chicago politicians. He’s an ardent defender of our Second Amendment rights, and led the charge to bring concealed carry to Illinois, allowing properly trained, law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons. He is an avid supporter of Illinois sportsmen and ensuring robust opportunities for outdoor recreation throughout the state. Hunting and angling are central to Southern Illinois’ identity and are favorite pastimes of Gary’s.
Veterans have risked it all to fight for our freedoms. That is why Gary has continued to be a strong advocate for our brave men and women in the armed services. When veterans return home, they should know that Illinois stands behind them and will provide them with resources they need. That’s why Gary passed major property tax relief for disabled veterans, sponsored tax credits that encouraged employers to hire returning veterans and helped create the Veterans Health Insurance Program, which brings affordable health care to veterans.