Deadline for Illinois Budget Negotiations Passes: Take Action Now!

June 11, 2015
JCUA Board Chair and member Peggy Slater is interviewed at Raunerville action in MAy.

JCUA Board Chair and member Peggy Slater is interviewed at the Raunerville action in May.

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.

Read the rest of this entry »


Governor Rauner: Be A Pursuer of Justice

May 27, 2015

Rabbi-ReevesBy Guest Blogger Rabbi Frederick Reeves 
KAM Isaiah Israel

On Wednesday, May 13, JCUA took part in a rally with over 200 people to call attention to the devastating impact of Governor Rauner’s “Turnaround Budget” on those who are most vulnerable across the state.  As we gathered in front of one of the Governor’s ten homes, Rabbi Fred Reeves of KAM Isaiah Israel gave the opening prayer, posted below.

Together we turn our thoughts and direct our words to the Eternal in this universe.

Eternal One, we gather together here this day each one of us from our own place. We come from many neighborhoods; we come from many faith traditions, but we are united in our belief that bringing justice into our world is the duty of humanity.

Grant diligence to us as we work for the betterment all the citizens of Illinois. Imbue us with a love of our fellow human beings so that we work not for our self- aggrandizement, but for the improvement of the position of others.

Keep our elected leaders in health as they perform the difficult task of leading this great state, and grant wisdom and discernment to them as they make the choices that determine the direction that this state will go. And especially to our governor, Bruce Rauner, grant a deep and motivating sense of justice for all of the citizens of Illinois. Help him do what is right. Silence those voices around him encouraging him to help those who do not need his help, and strengthen those voices calling on him to help the helpless, lift up the fallen, feed the hungry. Make our governor into a Pursuer of Justice.

For all this, we pray to You, Eternal One. We say together, Amen.

Group-Shot

As a rabbi, I am guided by the words of my own tradition, and there are two words which call out most powerfully, so powerfully in fact, that one of them is used twice. Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof: Justice Pursue Justice. We stand here as part of the Responsible Budget Coalition rejecting Governor Rauner’s proposed budget because of the unacceptable way that he has tried to make an unbalanced budget look like a balanced one. A truly balanced budget is not only balanced in terms of dollars and sense, it also is balanced in social responsibility and balanced on the scales of justice for our society.

It is an unbalanced budget that slashes critical investments in Illinois families and our future including transportation, education, and health care.

It is an unbalanced budget that denies Illinois families the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty, make ends meet and send their children off to school.

It is an unbalanced budget that denies access to health care, a good education, quality child care, and universities people can afford, and good roads, buses and trains to get back and forth to work.

It is an unbalanced budget that creates revenue shortfalls by failing to maintain responsible tax rates and instead has harmful and shortsighted tax cuts which have time and again failed to produce the benefits that their supporters promise.

So I call on Governor Rauner to clean up his unbalanced budget, and to present one that balances responsibility with the needs of those whom he was elected to serve. I call on him to put the teachings of justice into practice and become a pursuer of justice for all of the citizens of Illinois.


JCUA Demonstrates Opposition to Governor’s Proposed Budget

April 15, 2015

By Nate Seeskin
JCUA’s AVODAH Organizing Fellow

Good Friday on April 3rd saw only the beginning of what could be drastic cuts to the Illinois state budget as Governor Bruce Rauner, by executive order, suspended $26 million in social services for the rest of this fiscal year. Programs and areas impacted by these immediate cuts include assistance for the homeless and immigrant integration services. As echoed in Governor Rauner’s larger budget plan, these cuts unfairly target vulnerable populations, especially since no revenue increases are entertained on his behalf.

JCUA members attend budget hearing

JCUA members attend budget hearing

JCUA has been busy at work demonstrating our opposition to the Governor’s proposed budget. On Wednesday, April 1st, several members attended a packed hearing hosted by the Illinois State House Appropriations-Human Services Committee, where numerous non-profit leaders and community members testified how devastating these cuts will be to them. At various points, the hearing was emotional as people expressed how these aggressive cuts targeting vulnerable populations like immigrants, the physically disabled, mentally ill, and the homeless would be. Read the rest of this entry »


JCUA Newsletter – February 2015

February 11, 2015

In the February 2015 issue of the JCUA newsletter…

  • JCUA congratulates Arise Chicago and Golan’s workers for winning their strike and first union contract.
  • RSVP to join JCUA and other members of the Trauma Center Coalition for an Interfaith Vigil.
  • Register now for JCUA’s 2015 Passover Seder – Getting to the Promised Land.
  • JCore Member Meeting – Wednesday, February 18.
  • Sign up for Or Tzedek 2015 summer sessions.
  • Save the Date for JCUA’s first progressive dinner – ‘Just Eat’ – on June 15.
  • Rabbi Ari Hart reflects on his work with JCUA.

Read it now


Gun Lobby Appropriating Holocaust Imagery

July 21, 2014

There are debates over policy that are civil and there are debates that are fueled by disrespect, racism, discrimination and anti-Semitism. The new gun store and firing range being proposed in the Chicago suburb of Niles has generated conversation on both sides of the issue. People can have differences of opinion but it is never acceptable to utilize images of Nazis and the Holocaust to make one’s point. One of the largest online gun lobby media outlets, AmmoLand, published a call to action for their supporters that included explicit and offensive Nazi images along with misogynist anti-women language. AmmoLand, along with the Illinois State Rifle Association, are urging their supporters to attend the upcoming Niles Trustees Meeting (Tuesday, July 22nd, 7:00 PM at 1000 Civic Center Drive, Niles, IL) to voice their support for this store and firing range at the final vote on the matter by explicitly attacking women and labeling those who support sensible gun policies as Nazis.

Example of gun lobby Holocaust imagery

The establishment, if opened, will be next door to several schools, including Niles West High School. Business owners have gone on record stating that it will negatively impact their livelihoods and community members testified to the emotional and psychological toll it would take on them hearing bullets being fired all day during business hours. JCUA was present for the second hearing for the special use permit at the Niles Plan Commission Meeting and testified against opening the store in the proposed location. Nonetheless, the Plan Commission voted 5-2 to send the proposal up to the Niles Trustees for a final vote. It is imperative that those who support our kids having a safe neighborhood to go to school in and those who support stopping the flow of guns into the City of Chicago from neighboring suburban gun stores come to this meeting tomorrow and voice their opposition to this gun store. The gun lobby is using fear mongering, hateful and anti-Semitic rhetoric to rouse their supporters to the meeting. We must be present with common sense, clarity and civility. Please attend the meeting tomorrow.

jcua-action-alert-banner

Attend The Niles Trustees Meeting

What: Final vote on new gun store and firing range 

Where: Niles Municipal Building (1000 Civic Center Drive, Niles, IL)

When: Tuesday, July 22nd at 7:00 pm (come early to get a seat)

Let us know you are coming by clicking here!



Does Your Money Fund The Gun Industry?

June 12, 2014

As we witnessed this week the 74th school shooting since Adam Lanza opened fire on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012 it is easy to feel overwhelmed with a sense of helplessness as to what we can do as individuals. With each school shooting it becomes less sporadic and transforms into a regular occurrence and a real fear for so many of us. We send our children to school hoping that they will be educated and now we also hope that they return home alive. JCUA works with our community partners throughout Chicagoland to address the root causes of gun violence. For example, we have been active recently with the coalition to bring a trauma center to the south side. There is currently no trauma center capable of handling gun shot victims anywhere on the south side of Chicago. In addition, to the work of addressing the systemic issues of gun violence, there is something very practical all of us can do to make an impact.

Since 2005 contributions from gun companies to the National Rifle Association (NRA) has totaled upwards of $60 million dollars. Gun companies funnel their money to fund the chief gun lobbying organization in the United States. Every gun purchase an individual makes helps strengthen the gun lobby. Yet, for those of us that do not buy guns, we also may be unwittingly funding the gun lobby. Do you know if your 401k or other retirement account invests in the gun industry? It is imperative that we divest our retirement money from the gun industry.

Unload401k_fb-share-590x400This week JCUA attended a workshop with the Campaign to Unload and People for a Safer Society to discuss the urgent need for all of us to divest our retirement accounts from gun companies. The Campaign to Unload has targeted three specific gun companies, three of the largest contributors to the NRA for divestment: Sturm, Roger and Co., Smith & Wesson and Olin Corporation’s Winchester Ammunition. Each of these companies are close allies of the gun lobby and have donated millions to fund those that work to block common sense gun legislation both federally and at the state level.

While contemplating the horrific loss of life every day to gun violence do not feel helpless. There is something concrete and quick you can do. Divest your retirement accounts from these companies and send a financial message that we will no longer tolerate this. As President Obama said after the latest school shooting in Oregon: “Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced, developed country on Earth that would put up with this.”

Action Steps:

1) Visit the Campaign to Unload and People for a Safer Society websites to find out more about the divestment campaign.

2) Call your investment manager or bank and find out if your retirement accounts are invested in Sturm, Roger and Co., Smith & Wesson or Olin Corporation and ask for your money to be taken out of those companies.


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