By Nate Seeskin
AVODAH Organizing Fellow
Time is of the essence in the negotiations over the Illinois state budget and political games continue to dominate the scene in Springfield, leaving Illinoisans to question how our state will look once Fiscal Year 2016 begins in July. Members of the Democratic-controlled Illinois General Assembly (ILGA) failed to reach a budget agreement with Republican Governor Bruce Rauner by the June 1st deadline. Now, ILGA must approve a budget plan by the end of June with a supermajority in both chambers (36 in the Senate, 71 in the House) in order to pass. In the mean time, Governor Rauner is suggesting that with decreased revenues coming in this year, that Illinois has no choice but to make $6 billion in cuts to social services like Medicaid, mental health programs, public transportation, and state universities. At the same time, Governor Rauner is attaching his controversial pro-business Turnaround Agenda as a condition to achieving any type of agreement in the negotiations.
JCUA, a member of the Responsible Budget Coalition, thinks these proposed cuts are unjust as they disproportionately target those most vulnerable and needy, including the disabled, mentally ill, elderly, homeless, and low-income populations. A balanced budget is not one that attacks the livelihood of many people, but operates on adequate revenue to hold a steady social safety net. Over the past few months, members from JCUA have been mobilizing to show our opposition to budget cuts, arguing that Illinois should instead look to raise revenue. We’ve been meeting with legislative officials, signing letters and petitions, and attending rallies with our friends and neighbors in the community, illustrating the pain that we will go through as a people if Rauner’s budget becomes a reality.
The rope is getting short and now is the time, more than ever, to have your voice heard. Sign up here to become a member of JCUA, where you will be updated about the most recent developments in the budget campaign and learn about new avenues to get involved. In the mean time, you can take a few minutes to send a letter to Governor Rauner and your state legislators requesting that they look to raise revenue over cutting social services. After that, send the link to your friends and family. Peoples’ lives should not be in the mix of these budget negotiations!