Debbie Dilks is a native born Missourian. She comes from a long proud lineage of farmers and union workers. She was raised on a small farm in east Independence and later in Blue Springs. She is a single mother of a daughter who attends Boonville High School. Forced into a transfer due to the closing of the office that she worked at in Warrensburg for 10 years she is proud to now call Boonville home for the past 6 years. She understands the difficulties and challenges that families face in today’s economy.
Debbie attended Blue Springs school district and later UCM in Warrensburg studying psychology and biology. As a 4.0 gpa student, her educational future was bright and promising. Early in her 3rd year of college she was hit with a medical emergency that required a lengthy hospitalization and major surgery. As a student with no health insurance she was forced into dropping out of college and go to work full time to pay off the enormous hospital debt incurred by this one isolated incident. Debbie believes that no one should ever be forced to sacrifice education over illness. A great education should be the right of all Missourians. And healthcare should be accessible and affordable so that no one is forced into bankruptcy or forced into choosing between health or a college education.
Presently she has been in the telecom industry for 16 years, a 10-year member of CWA and 6 years IBEW, Debbie has been an active voice for workers’ rights to organize and protecting wages, pension, retirement and healthcare. She believes that Missouri needs new and forward thinking options to bring good paying jobs back to Missouri. The people of Missouri deserve to be able to earn a living wage and to work toward the American dream of owning a home and raising a family without fear of their jobs being outsourced.
FIGHTING FOR A FUTURE
Debbie decided that enough is enough and that it is a crucial time for Missouri to have better choices in our government. She will fight to protect the future of Missouri and will put families and the people of this state first, not big corporations or status quo politics.
At a time when people have to work longer hours for less money, I believe it is our responsibility to assure a living wage for every Missourian. Working mothers and fathers in Missouri are tasked with raising families on multiple part time jobs that don’t provide benefits or paid leave. Living paycheck to paycheck puts an undue pressure on families around our great state.
A $15 minimum wage is a living wage. The minimum wage has not kept up with inflation, and our state’s families and children are suffering. Jobs that pay $7.65 an hour are plentiful, but jobs that put more than Ramen on the family table are few. We must stand up and demand better pay.
We need to focus on creating more jobs, especially jobs that are full time. These are jobs that can support a family, put food on their table and a roof over their heads.
In 2013 Missouri infrastructure received a C- rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). While we have seen some improvements over the past 3 years, with our roads and bridges, we are in no way out of the woods. Schools, drinking water, and waste water are just a few of the categories that received C ratings. This must change. We must create jobs to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and in turn strengthen our economy.
Missouri has lost many large and small manufacturing industries. These abandoned properties are prime areas for the expanding green industries. We can rebuild communities with manufacturing plants for wind turbines and solar power units and parts.
Unions are the backbone of our democracy. Scientific research suggests that improving wages and reducing inequality is dependent on the existence of strong unions. We must retain the right to organize. We need unions more than ever – not only to raise wages, but to keep our democracy vibrant given the historic income divide. Nationally and locally the decline in union membership tracks alongside the decline in wages.
Right to work is wrong for Missouri. Statistics show that by passing laws such as this one, workers’ wages and benefits go down. The fact is that right to work and collective bargaining keeps all worker wages from falling through the cracks not just unions.
If passed, the TPP would expand the ability for corporations to attack environmental and health safeguards, making it easier for big corporations to ship our jobs overseas, push down our wages and increase income inequality. This trade agreement provides big pharmaceutical corporations monopoly rights to keep generic drugs off the market and undermines human rights. I stand opposed to the TPP.
CORPORATE TAX LOOPHOLES
Welfare reform ought to focus on our State’s poorest families, but instead on Tax Loopholes that provide “Corporate Welfare.” According to a report from the Mercatus Center (H/T AEI), Missouri has given $5.2 billion in subsidies to private businesses. This gives Missouri the dubious distinction of being the ninth most generous state in terms of corporate welfare. Corporations should be paying their fair share of taxes. Cuts should be reserved for small businesses, allowing them to grow, expand jobs, increase pay and build stronger local economies.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly 25 percent of suicides in Missouri involve a veteran. We must close the gap in services and provide mental health and medical care to our nation’s soldiers. We must assure that no veteran is homeless or lacks proper care. Missouri needs to enact tax breaks for local businesses who employee veterans thereby ensuring more job opportunities as soon as they return home.
VOTER ID LAWS
Missouri’s legislature voted to allow a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November which will disproportionately impact the poor, senior citizens, those with disabilities, and others who have a right to have their say at the polls. At a time when distrust in our government and legislature is at new highs, the last thing Missouri needs is to disenfranchise more voters. It is our duty to bring people back out to the polls, not to isolate them. There is little to no evidence of voter fraud in Missouri. This is why I stand opposed to Amendment 6.
We must overturn Citizens United. Corporations are buying our democracy with large contributions and should not have the same rights as people to spend money in elections. We need Campaign finance laws protecting our democracy from corruption and preserve the integrity of our elections.
We must create a ballot initiative to have fair and independent redistricting of our state’s congressional districts. It is time to end the gerrymandering that purposefully isolates voters.
Missouri has participated in the Voter CrossCheck program since 2013. The program is designed to disenfranchise voters, specifically people of color. This program is unconstitutional and has led to the purging of millions of voters from voter rolls. There is no evidence that voter fraud has ever been an issue in Missouri. It is time to stand up and protect voter rights. Every citizen has the right to vote and I will fight to protect those rights.
Many people work long and hard to be able to retire and enjoy their best years. Years that they should be able to spend with family and grandchildren. What they don’t expect is to have to end up choosing between food or medication or to worry about whether they will be able to pay the bills next month. There are some that would end Social Security or privatize it. Now is not the time to end it but to expand Social Security and ensure its future success. As a daughter and a younger sibling I will fight to protect social security.
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE FOR ALL
We must expand Medicare and Medicaid to all Missourians with an added focus to include comprehensive mental health care. I am opposed to the recent bill SB 608 which fines the poorest people in our state as they attempt to access healthcare for themselves and their families. Single payer health care is a necessity to the future, and it’s our responsibility to assure that no individual goes without accessible and affordable health care.
We must increase school funding to provide competitive salaries to teachers so that our children receive the best public education possible. Missouri ranks 46th in the country for teacher’s pay. we must provide salary increases for our teachers. Even with their low salaries, teachers are often forced to use their own money to supplement supplies provided by schools. This is wrong.
We must expand the A+ program to include 4 years of public college. We must provide an opportunity for a college education for every child in Missouri who works hard, regardless of their station or location.
Missourians were sold a bad bill of good intention with Proposition A in 2008. While the bill gave the appearance of adding funding to Missouri schools. What really happened is as revenue comes into the schools from the Lottery industry, the state pulls citizens’ taxes out of that fund to be used in a slush fund. In the end, these revenues have never added value back to our schools, only to the pockets of the legislature behind the bill. We must both reclaim and increase this school funding to encourage vibrant learning institutions that attract and retain world class teachers and faculty.
GREENER FUTURE FOR MISSOURI
If earthquakes triggered by fracking and wastewater removal continue to affect Missouri, it could create a staggering array of threats to our environment, our water and our health in addition to increasing the risk of destabilizing the New Madrid Fault.
I stand in solidarity with the Natives at Standing Rock and am committed to ending the oil pipelines through our state. We must protect our natural resources and utilize clean energy.
We must fund green energy alternatives and increase research for green farming alternatives while providing education and assistance to farmers who are transitioning to green alternatives.
While protecting our environment, we must help to transition fossil fuel workers into Green jobs. Training programs and assistance to move these workers into a new industry will be beneficial to workers, the economy and our state. Missouri jobs have been moving out, and it is time to take advantage of the abandoned properties and building to bring in Green manufacturing. This will help our planet and revitalize our communities.