Gov. visits for wrong reason
Hayley Montalvo | Northern Star
Demonstration outside DCEDC event
Lynnea Erickson, Safe Passage abuse intervention services coordinator demonstrates outside of the Holmes Student Center where Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered the keynote address for the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation’s Annual Dinner and State of County event. “I believe it’s irresponsible of the governor to be doing anything in this climate besides sitting down and getting this budget passed especially when the most vulnerable in our community are fighting for their survival,” Erickson said.
Gov. visits for wrong reason Dennis Muxlow Northern Star
It was in poor taste for Gov. Bruce Rauner to attend a dinner celebrating the economic success of DeKalb while many in this community, including a large portion of students, are being hurt due to his and the General Assembly’s refusal to pass a budget.
Rauner gave the keynote speech at the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation annual dinner Thursday in the Holmes Student Center, Duke Ellington Ballroom. Business leaders from throughout the community assembled to celebrate their successes over the past year. But largely ignored from this conversation were the economic realities that many students and others in the community face because of the budget fight.
There were students who expected Rauner to discuss the impasse’s effect on funding for Monetary Assistance Program grants and other services during his visit to campus. These important issues were unfortunately barely mentioned in his address. Instead, business leaders discussed their accomplishments despite the tough economic times.
“2015 has been an outstanding year for economic development in DeKalb County,” said Paul Borek, executive director of the DCEDC.
Community members rallied outside to demonstrate against the lack of a state budget. Safe Passage, one of the only sexual and domestic violence shelters in the county, is beginning to have operational problems because of the impasse.
“Safe Passage is turning away 30 people a month due to a lack of resources and state funding,” said Safe Passage Director Mary Schaid.
Also rallying were students from several surrounding colleges and universities.
“This is the first time in five years I am worrying about my enrollment at NIU,” said Rainn Darring, Campus Activities Board president and a MAP grant recipient.
Many students who blamed Rauner for the impasse chanted, “Governor Rauner, do your job,” during the rally; however, it seemed these students and the issues that matter most to them were simply an afterthought to the governor.
“I hate that we aren’t giving scholarships for kids that need support,” Rauner said.
Rauner will not support a budget that raises taxes without reforms from his Turnaround Agenda. While he continues to hold his ground by only passing a budget that is accompanied by what he calls “common sense reforms,” college students and victims of domestic violence are being hurt in the process.
These reforms include term limits, redistricting reforms and pension reforms, among others.
Instead of celebrating the success of business leaders, Rauner should instead focus on how he can compromise with the state legislature and vice versa so organizations like Safe Passage can continue to help victims of domestic violence and so students don’t have to worry about whether or not they will be able to attend school next semester.