On the eve of Governor Rauner’s second State of the State address, workers spoke out Tuesday in Springfield, imploring Gov. Bruce Rauner to quit holding the state budget hostage and insisting on advancing harmful plans that erode wages and safety net programs for working people.
Jeffrey Maher, a firefighter with the Galesburg Fire Department, asked the governor, “Instead of punishing the least among us by your failure to execute a budget, would you please make an effort to improve the quality of life for our citizens?”
Illinois has now gone the longest period in its history without a budget. Rauner has insisted on the General Assembly passing components of his corporate agenda before he addresses the state’s spending plan.
Gabriel Gomez, a professor in the College of Education at Chicago State University, has experienced firsthand the devastation the cutbacks has had on his students. “Our students are predominantly African-American and face challenges in their communities, from crime to hunger to poverty and racism. It makes me angry that the governor would allow these students —who so many have given up on—to suffer, all because of his obsessive political agenda against my union.”
“The delay in passing a state budget has resulted in funding reductions for state programs and agencies that provide treatment and support to families experiencing drug and alcohol addiction, abuse and neglect, and mental illness,” said Annice Brave, a high school teacher in southern Illinois.
“When home life overwhelms a child, too often, they lose touch with their lifeline: their school. This can be the life-changer, because education is that one thing that can help them overcome problems to become contributing citizens.”
Rauner’s proposals drive down wages and restrict access to working family economic recovery programs like workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. He also insists on politically-charged changes to legislative districts and term limits in exchange for doing his job.
Additionally, since July, the social services infrastructure is crumbling because of Governor Rauner’s refusal to enact a state budget.
Home healthcare worker Robert Taylor said, “Governor Rauner has broken the child care and home healthcare programs and brought dangerous instability to the social services safety net in Illinois.”
Stephen Mittons, a child protection investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, “For the past 20 years, I have been a frontline worker protecting the safety of children in some of the poorest areas of Chicago. We know the harm the governor is causing by refusing to agree to a budget, like children left home alone so their parents could go to work.”
Rauner’s agenda was overwhelmingly rejected or ignored on the local level and the General Assembly has been firm on not passing any of his right-wing think tank playbook.
Terrence Neal, a union painter, stated, “Over the last year, Governor Rauner have been pushing so called ‘Right-to-Work’ zones in Illinois. He wants us to think that these policies will benefit workers, instead, it is a power grab to move us into part-time positions, offshore our jobs, cut back on health and safety protections in the workplace, and pay us less.”
Terry Biggs, a steelworker from Granite City, added, “It’s time for Governor Rauner to stop trying to sell us on a bad deal and get to work on making sure we get a fair shake.”
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