Senate Black Caucus supports measure to fund social services, higher education and senior services

Members of the Senate Black Caucus unanimously supported legislation to fund the remaining programs left out of the budget due to the impasse. The budget package gives relief to college and universities, low-income students and a wide variety of human services and public health programs. The House approved the measure yesterday, but the governor has already threatened to veto it.

Below are comments from Senate Black Caucus members following the passage of the measure:

Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) Senate Appropriations Chairman

“Decimating our great institutions and eroding the state’s safety net are not only backward but inhumane,” said Trotter, sponsor of the funding plan. “The people have spoken and we’ve acted. Now the governor needs to put an end to this nonsensical impasse, because the people of Illinois have had enough.”

Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) Senate Black Caucus Chairman

“Today we took a responsible step forward in ending the budget impasse. Now it’s time for the governor to sign this legislation so Illinois will no-longer be the laughing stock of the nation. If the governor veto’s this bill, it only firms up my belief that he is out to wreck Illinois’ economy.”

Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago)

“Keeping our after-school programs and pipelines to employment open for teens keeps them off of the street,” said Hunter, a member of the Senate Human Services Committee. ‘Illinois’ youth can no longer be used a bargaining chips in distracting debate over the governor’s turnaround agenda. In Chicago, having a safe place to go and access to jobs is a matter of life and death for too many of our young people.”

Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago)

“If the governor is going to continue holding the state and its most vulnerable residents hostage while he demands reforms that would hurt the middle class and aren’t proven to benefit anyone but large corporations and the wealthy, the least he can do is allow universities and service providers to present their bills to the Comptroller and get in line to be paid as soon as the money becomes available,” Collins said. “We’re in a state of emergency, with Chicago State set to close just 17 days from now and many social services and health care providers already shutting down, and it is the governor’s moral obligation to recognize this and provide relief by signing the measure we’re sending him.”

“It is deplorable that at-risk youth in violence-prone communities, families struggling with homelessness, the mentally ill and the addicted, individuals with HIV/AIDS and women who have been victims of sexual assault continue to pay the price in this budget standoff,” Collins said. “I’m proud to vote for legislation that takes the pressure off of people who did not cause this crisis, and puts responsibility back where it belongs – on the people’s elected representatives, first and foremost the governor.”

Senator Patricia Van Pelt

“This is important legislation, make no mistake. It gives the governor authorization to send critically-needed and necessary funds to our agencies and universities. It is the legislature’s job to authorize spending. But it’s up to the executive branch to disburse the funds—funds that will go a long way for the most vulnerable and our students.

Today, the Senate has essentially put the ball in the governor’s court. It is time for him to truly “turn the state around,” providing funds to those who need it. I urge the governor to sign this legislation into law.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 2046 funds the following programs:

  • Appropriates $3.9 billion ($3.1 billion from General Revenue Funds)
  • Funds public colleges and universities, including Chicago State University, which is scheduled to shut down and lay off all staff on April 30
  • Funds MAP grants (state assistance to low-income college students attending both public and private Illinois institutions of higher learning)
  • Funds human services, public safety and public health programs not currently funded under court orders and consent decrees; these include
    • Breast and cervical cancer screenings
    • Community mental health
    • The Community Care Program (in-home assistance for senior citizens)
    • Meals on Wheels for seniors
    • Homelessness prevention and services
    • Indigent burial
    • Local public health grants
    • School construction grants
    • Affordable housing
    • Lincoln’s Challenge Academy
    • Juvenile and Adult Redeploy Illinois (second-chance programs for non-violent offenders)
    • Services for victims of sexual assault
    • Afterschool programs and violence prevention programs for at-risk youth
    • Immigrant and refugee services
    • Respite services for caregivers of those with developmental disabilities
    • Addiction treatment programs
  • Includes back pay owed to some state employees

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