BELLEVILLE – Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget plan would take a steep toll on middle-class families, the elderly, and sick and disabled residents, said Metro East families who joined with state Reps. Dan Beiser, D-Alton; Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton; Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea; and Eddie Lee Jackson, D-East St. Louis; and state Sens. James Clayborne, D-Belleville; and Bill Haine, D-Alton, to urge a more balanced solution to the state’s budget challenges.
“The choices made in the coming days and weeks in Springfield will have a tremendous impact on families here in the Metro East,” Costello said. “Now more than ever, as many middle-class families struggle to make ends meet, every decision must be made with their best interests in mind. A budget that denies them the care they need, the services they depend on, and opportunities to help their children get ahead simply costs too much for Metro East families.”
“It’s time to take action and decide on a suitable solution for these families that are standing in a mist of uncertainty,” Clayborne said. “We are coming together to make a statement that we’re done with the back and forth and are ready to fix these problems. These are real people with real issues, so let’s find real solutions.”
Parents of children with autism and local seniors who rely on in-home care were among those who stood with members of the Metro East’s legislative delegation at the Developmental Disability Services of the Metro East center in Belleville to urge a balanced approach that makes responsible spending cuts while protecting critical services for middle-class families, senior citizens and those in great need.
“We stand for fiscal responsibility, and we know there’s nothing responsible about punishing people who are trying to make ends meet,” Beiser said. “We’re committed to cutting waste in Springfield and Chicago, and we stand ready to do whatever it takes to get a state budget that works for the hard-working families in the Metro East.”
“Throughout the last few months I have spoken to and met with many people who would be negatively impacted by the governor’s proposed budget cuts. There are very real implications here,” Haine said. “What we heard today echoes what we have been hearing for months. These cuts hurt people who, through no fault of their own, are suffering from Alzheimer’s and other severe disabilities. If this funding is cut, where do people go? We as a civil society have an obligation to help these individuals. Now more than ever it is important to speak with the people in our communities so we can bring their concerns with us to the negotiation table.”
Rauner has called for the suspension of funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps thousands of residents cover the costs of home heating every winter, and has proposed severe reductions to agricultural education, and programs that serve families of children with autism. Policy changes backed by the governor would make it harder for seniors to receive in-home care, forcing residents to seek out more costly nursing home care.
The governor’s proposal also slashes funding for hospitals, cutting more than $36 million from Gateway Regional Medical Center, HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Memorial Hospital, Touchette Regional Hospital, Alton Memorial Hospital, Anderson Hospital and OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center. The Illinois Hospital Association estimates these cuts will reduce economic activity in the Metro East by over $865 million, and cost the area 642 jobs.
“A budget that slashes educational opportunities for young people isn’t competitive, and no amount of campaign-style speeches or TV ads can make a proposal that stops working families from heating their homes and keeps children with autism from getting the therapy they need seem compassionate,” Hoffman said.
“Seniors whose only wish is to spend their retirement years in the homes they worked to build instead of a nursing home, and those with developmental disabilities who overcome tremendous obstacles and simply ask for help unlocking their full potential certainly didn’t cause problems facing our state, but Gov. Rauner’s budget treats them as the problem and makes them pay for it,” Jackson said. “We stand with the middle-class families of our communities. We stand with the elderly. We stand with those with special needs. We stand with students. That’s why we will never stand for a budget that abandons them.”