by David Kreisman | May 26, 2016
Ten thousand rally in Springfield, demand Governor Rauner stop hurting Illinois. (Photo by David Kreisman)
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – More than 10,000 Illinoisans representing 38 unions and some 20 community organizations rallied at the State Capitol to demand Gov. Bruce Rauner drop his harmful demands, and make Illinois work for all.
Illinois is quickly approaching a full year without a state budget because the governor refuses to approve any budget unless legislators enact his anti-worker agenda. Although an education funding bill has kept K-12 schools open, human services and state universities have been hard hit because of Governor Rauner’s refusal to stray from his extreme agenda.
In addition, construction projects have stalled, child support payments are in jeopardy, and businesses are owed millions for goods and services provided to the state.
Low-income college students are struggling to stay in school as funding for state student assistance under the Monetary Award Program (MAP) is no longer flowing. More than half of all African-American and Latino college students in Illinois receive MAP funding, with 57 percent of grant recipients being first-generation college students.
With the state not paying its bills, local governments across Illinois are feeling the pinch. In Will County, the health department is laying off dozens of employees (members of AFSCME Local 1028) and cutting programs that are dependent on state grants.
“Every day I see firsthand the harm the governor is causing,” said JoAnn Washington-Murry, a child welfare specialist from Chicago and AFSCME Local 2081 member. “Because the governor is holding up the budget, treatment programs have had to scale back or shut down. That hurts children and families, because if parents can’t get help to turn their lives around, my only choice is to keep that child in foster care.”
Governor Rauner is taking the same my-way-or-the-highway approach to a new union contract for state employees. Claiming an impasse, he broke off negotiations with AFSCME Council 31 and is asking the state Labor Board to allow him to impose his demands, which include doubling health insurance costs for state workers and a four-year wage freeze.
“We have a message for Governor Rauner: What you’re doing is wrong,” Washington-Murry added. “It’s wrong to destroy social services in order to force lawmakers to do your bidding. It’s wrong to refuse to negotiate and walk away. It’s wrong to hold a state of 13 million people hostage to your political agenda.”