Daily Herald - Report: Mothers, other women hurt more by budget impasse

Submitted on Mon, 05/09/2016 - 19:00


by Melissa Silverberg

Women and mothers are disproportionally hurt by the ongoing state budget impasse, according to a new report.

Randi Gurian, CEO of The Harbour, a homeless youth provider in Des Plaines, was joined by other members of the collective of nonprofits calling itself the Responsible Budget Coalition outside state Rep. David Harris' Mount Prospect office on Monday to discuss the new report and ask legislators to pass a budget now.

"We're here because we need Rep. Harris to know how the budget impasse is creating barriers for mothers in his district," Gurian said. "We're here because we need Rep. Harris to make sure the state stops breaking its promise to moms and their families."

The group released a report that outlines ways it believes the budget impasse is specifically hurting woman and mothers in Illinois:

• Illinois has failed to fund MAP grants for 130,000 college students, 62 percent of whom last year were women.

• As Meals on Wheels programs across Illinois struggle for funding, the report says 60 percent of seniors experiencing food insecurity are women.

• Funding cuts are endangering local mothers who are survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

• Cuts to social services in Illinois will mean more responsibility falls to women, who make up 66 percent of unpaid caregivers.

• Families with young children are among the fastest growing groups affected by homelessness.

"Mothers are students, caregivers, seniors, survivors and more," Gurian said.

She said The Harbour is one of many agencies that has not gotten state funding in 10 months.

"They've broken their promise to the Harbour, but more importantly, state leaders have broken their promise to young mothers and youth at risk of homelessness," she said.

Yesenia Maldonado, executive director of Between Friends, which provides domestic violence services out of an office at the Rolling Meadows courthouse, said the budget cuts could have deadly consequences for women in violent relationships who cannot get help.

"Put the safety of mothers first, not the governor's non-budget agenda," Maldonado said. "Pass a budget that chooses revenue instead of choosing to put mothers' lives in danger."

Harris, a Republican, invited the demonstrators into his office, where he said he understands their concerns.

"This budget situation is the worst we've ever seen," Harris said. "I'm discouraged. I'm disheartened. We must get a budget for the state of Illinois. We are pushing the state over a financial cliff."

Harris agrees the state has put social service agencies in a terrible situation. He said he is hopeful for some kind of resolution before the session ends in the next few weeks.

"What we're doing is wrong. We're moving in the wrong direction and I could not agree more," he said.

Harris stopped short of promising changes, but he said he is working to find a middle ground. He called the battle of will between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan "a butting of heads between two titans."