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Ill. Legislative Black Caucus Urges Constituents to Fight Rauner’s Proposed Cuts

Deborah Bayliss | 7/1/2015, 2:36 p.m.
Members of the Ill. Legislative Black Caucus fanned out across Chicago and the suburbs last week for “Stop the Cuts” ...
Ill. State Sen. Donne Trotter (Dist.-17th) address audience members who gathered for the Ill. Legislative Black Caucus "Stop the Cuts Rally" held June 25 at Chicago State University's Breakey Theater. Also in the photo L-R are Ill. State Sen. Jacqueline Collins (Dist.-16th); Ill. State Rep. Mary Flowers (Dist.-31st) and Ill. State Sen. Ester Golar (Dist.-6th) Photo by Deborah Bayliss

Members of the Ill. Legislative Black Caucus fanned out across Chicago and the suburbs last week for “Stop the Cuts” rallies, urging constituents to fight against Ill. Gov. Bruce Rauner’s FY2016 proposed budget cuts to social service and other programs.

The Democratic legislators called the proposed cuts a ‘direct attack” on the working poor as representatives from various social service agencies spoke about the impact of a government shutdown if a budget is not passed by midnight June 30, saying funding for programs and services across the state would be slashed including Medicaid funding to many of the state’s hospitals, home care for senior citizens, HIV/AID funding, childcare assistance and mental health programs.

“This is not the Republic of Rauner but the Democratic State of Illinois,” said Ill. State Sen. Donne Trotter during the rally held at Chicago State University’s (CSU) Breakey Theater. “…What we’ve seen from the governor is that he wants a social Darwinism where only the wealthy survive…We want Rauner to know that numbers reflect people.”

Front Row L-R Chicago State University President, Dr. Wayne Watson and Ill. State Rep. Elgie Sims, Jr. (Dist.-34th). Back row L-R Ill. State Sen. Kwame Raul (Dist-13th) and Chicago Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward).

Front Row L-R Chicago State University President, Dr. Wayne Watson and Ill. State Rep. Elgie Sims, Jr. (Dist.-34th). Back row L-R Ill. State Sen. Kwame Raul (Dist-13th) and Chicago Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward).

CSU’s communications director and spokesperson, Tom Wogan said CSU invited the governor and other republican legislators to the event but they declined attendance.

Fr. Michael Pfleger of the Faith Community of St. Sabina, Chicago Aldermen, Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward) and Joe Moore (49th Ward), Cook County Commissioner, Stanley Moore (Dist.- 4th) were among those in attendance.

With budget negotiations stalled, Illinois, if no budget is approved, is heading in the direction of a government shutdown. Starting July 1, the state will be left without the legal authority to spend money as usual.

Democrats who control the legislature, pushed through a $36.3 billion budget reported to be more than $3 billion short saying Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda that calls for reforms to worker’s compensation, a property tax freeze originally slated as permanent but now shortened to two years, term limits and redistricting and pension reform are not negotiable budget items, while Rauner proposed a $31.5 billion spending plan.

On June 25, Rauner vetoed 19 budget bills from Democrats that combine to create a nearly $4 billion deficit, according to the governor.

“Today I veto House Bill 4146 form the 99th General Assembly in order to protect Illinois taxpayers from an unbalance and therefore unconstitutional budget,” read the statement from Rauner. The Speaker (House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President, (John) Cullerton, admitted the General Assembly’s budget is unbalanced. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget concurs, calculating this budget is nearly $4 billion out of balance. For too long the state has made spending promises that exceed available revenues…and has generated significant backlogs of unpaid bills and debt burden of well over $100 billion…and the worst credit rating of any state.”

Chicago Public Schools and other schools in Illinois are expected to open on time this fall as Rauner last Wednesday, signed House Bill 3762 appropriating funding.

In terms of higher education, CSU President Dr. Wayne Watson said the university faces a proposed $11.8 million cut which would mean the layoff of about 200 employees at minimum.

Tuition assistance grants for students could also be cut.

“Chicago State historically has been the springboard for African Americans. If these budget cuts (take place) that may not continue to be the case and that would be devastating to the Chicago State,” said Watson.

When asked for comment on the pending shutdown, Rauner spokesperson, Lindsey Walters provided the following statement, "Speaker Madigan and the politicians he controls intentionally passed a budget that's unbalanced by $4 billion. Gov. Rauner is committed to working with legislators to pass the Turnaround Agenda and help free up state resources so taxpayer dollars go to those in need, create jobs and grow the economy."

Ill. Sen. Jaqueline Collins (Dist. 16th) told the audience who packed the Breakey Theater, “It all depends on you. All we have to do is fight. It’s extreme and immoral what the governor is trying to do…balancing the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable...we’re asking you to call the governor.”

Constituents, who wish to contact the governor’s office, can call (217) 782-0244.