Infrastructure, the child tax credit and clean energy were among the topics U.S. Rep. Sean Casten addressed Saturday during a near-capacity town hall at the American Legion Post in Downers Grove.
Casten said his last in-person town hall was 17 months ago, before the state imposed restrictions on public gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Democracy works best when it’s in person, “said Casten, a Downers Grove Democrat representing Illinois’ 6th Congressional District, which includes parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties. “Democracy is at its worst when it’s the 15th comment on a Facebook thread.”
Addressing COVID-19, Casten said 280 people, on average, die each day from the virus, which he said is an improvement on the 884 COVID-related deaths that occurred a year ago on that date.
“We’re not back but we’re a lot better than where we were,” he said adding, “please do not rest easy. Don’t take anything for granted. If you are not vaccinated, if you don’t have a medical reason not to, please get vaccinated.”
Referencing the American Jobs Plan and its emphasis on infrastructure, Casten talked about the importance of expanding broadband nationwide, citing as an example West Chicago where he said 50% of students learning remotely during the pandemic lacked wireless access.
“You can’t have equity unless you have broadband,” he said.
Casten said climate change and clean energy are economic opportunities to seize.
He said part the infrastructure proposal is to get solar panels and electric vehicles built out in an equitable manner, in addition to road, bridge, rail and waterway improvements.
Casten acknowledged the infrastructure bill should have been done “a long time ago” in response to an attendee’s question about why took 20 years of pleading from construction and trucking industries, unions and building tradespeople.
He added, U.S. infrastructure earned a C- from the American Society of Civil Engineers resulting in huge costs to truckers and commuters.
“We have done infrastructure in this country but we haven’t replaced it at the rate it’s deteriorating,” he said. “Part of the reason is we have always funded roads and bridges with a gasoline tax, which has not been raised in over a decade.”
As a result, construction costs rose, but funding did not increase, he said.
Casten said he supports making permanent the child tax credit, which he said benefits roughly 69% of children in his district, lifting 5,500 of them out of poverty. Statewide, the tax credit is expected to benefit more than 2.5 million children and lift 153,000 children out of poverty, he added.
He touted the proposal to extend public education by four years, including two years of prekindergarten and two years of college education saying, it would “catch us up” to our trading partners.
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July 17, 2021 at 06:11PM