March , 2018

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Senator Jones: “We always have the recall

By China Strausberg

Saying this is a serious situation, members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus late Thursday night called on their supporters to help them put the brakes on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s “draconian” budget cuts they say would hurt the elderly, students, affect healthcare and especially harm the poor.

In what Senator Donne Trotter (D-17th) calls a “political game of budgetary chicken,” he said, “We are under attack.” Gov. Rauner has laid down the gauntlet vetoing 19 state budget bills that could lead to more social service cuts and a probably government shutdown after June 30th if Rauner doesn’t compromise. The governor has angered the black caucus by extending his TV ads accusing them of trying to force him into raising taxes.

WVON’s Cliff Kelley joined the Legislative Black Caucus in taking their fight to the people and asked the public to call Gov. Rauner’s Springfield office at 217.782.0244 or his Chicago office at 312.814.2121 and tell him to stop the cuts.

Senator Emil Jones, III, who is also chair of the Senate Black Caucus, warned the public to be watchful of several African Americans running against members of the black caucus he says are allegedly paid to do so by Gov. Rauner. He warned there would be a lot of money spread around but asked the public not to be fooled and to remain united in calling on Rauner to restore the cuts.

Jones went a step further and said if the governor doesn’t do the right thing by the people of Illinois “we do have recall in the state of Illinois.  I think there are a couple of organizations which are already working on tis recall,” he told a cheering audience.

“He’s already putting up candidates to run against us…black Republicans in our district to run against us. Don’t be fooled,” said Jones. “It’s a set up. Those are black Republicans hat he’s financing to run against us. Don’t be fooled, but we the black Caucus are standing tall to prevent this.” “We will not come home until this is fixed.” He said they will be back in Springfield on June 30th and July 1st and urged the public to join them to voice their opinion.

Trotter, who was joined by Senators Mattie Hunter (D-3rd), Jacqueline Collins (D-16th0, Rep. Mary Flowers (D-31st), Rep. Elgie Sims (D-34th), Ald. Eugene Sawyer (6th), Rep. Esther Golar (D-6th), Rep. Kwame Raoul (D-13th) and others, said the Caucus is disappointed in Rauner.

Activist Eddie Read called out those blacks who supported Rauner over Gov. Pat Quinn. Read called on former Senator James Meeks, Pastor Corey Brooke, Hermene Hartman and Dr. Willie Wilson “to come back to the ‘hood and let them explain what he (the governor) promised to do.” “I don’t know Bruce Rauner. Willie Wilson said he would make sure that Bruce Rauner do right by the black community.” Read said blacks don’t need him running for the presidency with so many problems plaguing the community.

“When the governor signed the Democratic education budget, I thought we had finally found common ground and were going o move forward collectively. Yes, education is a priority, but so are services that assist seniors, developmentally disabled children and other at risk people and communities,” said Trotter.

“We need a balanced approach to a balanced budget. Wiping out these budgets isn’t balanced It’s extreme. I hope the governor has an alternative in mind that’s better than phantom savings and slashed programs from those most at-risk in our state,” said Trotter. The governor has done a good job scaring the hell out of us. The lights are not going out” after June 30th,” he said referring to Rauner’s deadline budget threat.

Senator Hunter, who said the Caucus held three rallies including on the West Side and the suburbs, said, “We need people to reach out to the governor because we have until June 30th. The clock is ticking, and we need to move. Citizens of Illinois need to act and they need to let the governor they do not appreciate the action he is taking and he cannot balance the budget on the backs of the poor people of this state.”

Senator Collins said they are asking the public to stand with them and fight Rauner’s cuts. “It will take all of us working together…. We need people to wake up, make sure we move forward and not going backwards…. Money doesn’t rule. People who come together have strength to make sure we’re on the right path….”

Rep. Flowers said, “We hired the governor to do a job for the people of the state of Illinois, not for himself. It is not about what he wants. He is suppose to serve the people of the state of Illinois not tort reform. That’s up to the legislative process not to hurt or harm our constituents. He is causing the death, hurting and harming our most vulnerable people and that is not acceptable….”

Flowers added, “Education is in the Constitution. This is something we are entitled to. He does not have the liberty to play games with our lives. We’re non-negotiable. We are not toys to be played with. If you want to govern, govern. If you want to play, you should excuse yourself from being in that seat.”

Senator Trotter said, “There is too much misinformation that has been going out a lot of it manufactured and put out with his campaign commercials in the middle of a negotiated process. It’s confusion because people are nervous, scared and their anxiety levels are high.”

Asked if after June 30th would the government shut down, Trotter explained before that happens there are “triggers” set in place. “We have to pay bills…our obligations. Shutdown is one of those terms to scare people. We are not there yet, but we are close but we need to not get any closer.”

“The governor threw out a couple of doggie bones today,” Trotter said. “He could have done that months ago. He said we are going to look at term limits next year. We told him that months ago…. Obviously he read the constitution, but it’s the first time he’s acknowledge it is the law of the land.”

Asked what would happen if the budget is not passed, Trotter said, “There will be some lights turned out. There will be some dimming of lights…services would be eliminated…especially our small vendors who cannot wait 30 days” to get paid.

Senator Raoul said when Rauner signed the education bill he tried to “psyche you” because “24-hours leter he vetoed everything else. That is a hell of a turnaround. We don’t want to turnaround. We want to move forward.”

Leslie M. Rogers, assistant administrator from the South Shore Hospital, painted a grim picture if the cuts are not restored. “There are 18 safety net hospitals in Chicago,” he said. “What the governor has proposed is a $1.4 billion cut to Medicaid… Many of us (safety net hospitals) would not exist.” He said it would mean a $2 million cut to his hospital alone and about $3 million to Jackson Hospital. It would mean laying off most of the 450 employees at his hospital.

Community activist Pam Bosley, who lost her son to gun violence on April 4, 2006 as he stood in the parking lot of his church, said Saint Sabina was suppose to get 1500 jobs but due to the cuts they can only hire 300. “He cut the youth from working this summer…. If our youth do not work during the summer, they are going to be shooting,” she said. “We demand together that our governor give our youth jobs….”

Rochelle Crump, president, National Veterans United, said, cuts to veterans are “shameful.” She said the cuts are also affecting the children. “Every cut the governor makes” affects veterans.

Maximillian M. Boykin, from the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, said, “The best way to stop HIV from spreading..is to get the meds they need to make sure it won’t spread. If you take that away, HIV spreads. We know that from other red states in this country that has happened…. That is what he is setting us up for,” he said referring to Rauner who has cut funding for AIDS.

Nakeba Johnson, Chicago State University Student Government Association spokesperson, said many of CSU students come from homes well below the poverty level and that Rauner’s proposed budget cuts “would lead to program and staff reduction and the university would no longer be able to provide the services that attracted me to CSU in the first place. I fear these cuts will only lead to more of my classmates dropping out of college.”

According to the black caucus, Rauner’s cuts include:

Addiction Prevention –$1.6 million

Autism–$1 million

Teen REACH –$3.1 million

Criminal justice services –50% reduction

Medicaid –$1.47 billion

Health & Family Services:

Nursing homes –$65 million

Early Intervention Program –$23 million

AIDS/HIV services $6.0 million

Breast & Cervical Cancer Screening Program –$9.8 million (71%)

Managed care (funding hospitals receive to coordinate patient care) — $60 million

Child support and department operations — $12.5 million

Eliminating Crucial Services

Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which keeps families safe by assisting with energy costs.

Youth employment and violent prevention programs

Developmental disability program and services: Best Buddies, Project Autism, Arc of Illinois, epilepsy services, dental service and respite care

Mental health programs: Child and Youth Mental Health Lockout Services and the Psychiatric Leadership Grant

Supportive housing services, homeless youth services, emergency/food programs and teen parents service.

The Senate Democrats have proposed: tuition tax credit so that qualified parents or students who are Illinois residents can claim a tax credit for higher education expenses incurred at any qualified public or private university, community college, vocational school or other postsecondary educational institutions located in Illinois.

They’ve also proposed increasing the minimum wage to $9.00 on July 1, 2015 and by $0.50 each year thereafter until the minimum wage reaches $11.00 on July 1, 2019. It provides a three-year tax credit for employers with less than 50 employees.

The Illinois College Promise Program covers tuition and mandatory fees for up to two years at any of the state’s 48 community colleges so long as the student continues to meet all applicable eligibility requirements.

Healthy workplace Act guarantees up to seven paid days of sick time to full and part time employees. Sick time would accrue at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employees would not be able to take sick time for the first 120 days of employment.

Corporate loopholes—End a variety of corporate tax breaks including corporation’s ability to automatically receive a tax break for production outside of Illinois. Closing these loopholes will bring the state $334 million.

Providing youth employment and violent prevention services. Creating youth employment summer programs and internships offers young people economic independence and stability. Violence prevention programs keep teens and young adults off the street and out of harm’s way. These services are a matter of life and death for resident in areas of high crime.

Protecting crucial health and human services—keeping childcare centers open and protecting LIHEAP from being suspended on July 1.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.

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