The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus stood with community advocates and rallied against Governor Raunerâ€™s vicious cuts to social services and other programs. In front of a crowd of 150 people, advocates claimed the cuts represented a direct attack on the working poor and those who werenâ€™t born into financial prosperity. Programs and services that provide in-home care for seniors, child-care assistance to working parents, home-energy assistanceÂ to pay for heat and air conditioning and summer youth jobs stand to be eliminated or dramatically reduced.
â€œFor the governor to say that he allotted some money to take care of some of our need is really back handed,â€ said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford â€“ Chairman of the Black Caucus. â€œIf we are going to have a compassionate Illinois, why are we forcing those who canâ€™t help themselves to suffer? Why will they feel the cuts the most?â€
Cuts to child-care assistance will force parents out of the program, leaving them with the decision to either work or stay home with their children and require more taxpayer assistance.
â€œThese cuts were made blindly and without any account for the people they will affect,â€ said Senator Donne Trotter. â€œWhen you craft a budget, you put your money toward programs and services that are priorities. We can see that the programs that are funded reflect the governorâ€™s priorities, and itâ€™s not the people who need the most help.â€
Several organizations that serve communities who will suffer the most discussed how the lack of support increases crime, lowers our studentsâ€™ opportunities to be qualified for good jobs and will leave people without heat during Chicagoâ€™s coldest months.
â€œChicago winters are among the harshest in the nation. Last year, CPS even closed for a few days, and CPS never closes,â€ said Senator Emil Jones III, Senate Black Caucus Chairman. â€œI guess we will force families to set up wood-burning stoves in their homes â€“ we will call it Rauner heat.â€
Last week, Democrats in the General Assembly sent a budget to Governor Rauner to sign. The Black Caucus supported a budget package that provided adequate funding for programs and services that assist the working poor. Unfortunately the governor vetoed that budget plan.