8-month old Sha-Niyah Love has lived almost her entire life during the time Illinois has been without a budget.
Sha-Niyah's family is just one of the many Southern Illinois families who the Governor and lawmakers are failing to invest in.
"[T]hey can't help us, because the government won't help them. So what now?" says Sha-Niya's mother, Shanikka.
"I mean, come on! The kids have WIC appointments, doctor’s appointments, et cetera. And how are we supposed to get there if we don't have a car?" says Jennifer Baseden, another young mother.
Baseden and Love are part of the Healthy Families Program at Shawnee Health Service that provides parental coaching and other supports that allow young families to suceed.
Baseden and Love were joined by the Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry and local service providers one day ahead of the Governor's State of the State Address. They delivered their assement that the state of Southern Illinois families and communities were weak. They were bolstered by a new report from the Responsible Budget Coalition.
Miriam Mullison-Link, Jackson County Health Department Administrator, noted public health deparments in over 75% of the counties south of I-70 have reduced staff or cut hours or programs. She warned that she will likely be forced to discontinue all state funded services by June or July. She described the danger state policymakers' irresponsiblity is posing to public health.
“Illinois’ public health emergency response network is being dismantled by the Governor and lawmakers’ failure to choose revenue and put a budget first. When the next flood comes or the next disease outbreak, we won’t have the strong public health system that we need to protect families. Fewer public health workers, especially nurses, threatens our communities and when the emergency hits, it’s too late," said Mullison-Link.
Carbondale Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Randy Osborn also spoke at the press conference. He told how the state eliminated funding for the Teen REACH after school program that has proven to improve grades, keep kids safe, and reduce juvenile crime. Statewide 15,000 kids have lost access to the Teen Reach program.
"A comprehensive, proven program addressing some of the most pressing youth development issues was effectively dismantled," Osborn said.
John A Logan College Student Trustee Brandi Husch spoke about how the state has failed to provide promised tuition grants to 400 low-income students at John A. Logan, nor have state leaders provided a dime of funding to any colleges and universities this fiscal year. Husch worries about what cuts may be coming and what that means for the future of hard-working students in Southern Illinois.
Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry said the Governor and lawmakers must choose revenue before more damage to Southern Illinois families is done.
"It's our people who need these services that it's going to do damage to and maybe permanent damage," said Henry.
Southern Illinois "State of Our State" News Coverage
New Must-Read Report
Read the new Responsible Budge Coalition report "State of Our State: Failure to Invest in Families and Communities Is Weakening Illinois."