Child Advocates, Students Gather at Capitol Ahead of Governor's Budget Address

Submitted on Thu, 02/18/2016 - 14:48


Harley.jpgChild protection advocates, students, child care providers, and others gathered in Springfield one day ahead of the Governor's Budget Address.The Associated Press, Bloomington Pantagraph, WAND NBC 17 Decatur, and the Chicago Tribune were among the news outlets that covered the Responsible Budget press conference.

The Associated Press article, which was published in dozens of media outlets across the state, featured the Wells Center, a substance abuse treatment facility in Jacksonville that was forced to end a program for 360 families.  It also highlighted the story of Richetta Harris-El, a former childcare provider, who was forced to turn away families who wanted to work and close her business due to the Governor’s changes to childcare eligibility. 

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Advocates for more spending on education and human services are urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to embrace higher taxes and a balanced state budget on the eve of his annual budget presentation.

The Responsible Budget Coalition held a state Capitol news conference a day before the conservative governor is scheduled to present a budget plan for the year that begins next July 1. Rauner continues to differ with Democrats controlling the Legislature over a budget that should have started last July 1.

Bruce Carter is the director of Wells Center in Jacksonville. He says the lack of a state budget has forced the substance-abuse treatment center to end prison-diversion programs in five counties.

Richetta Harris-El says she had to give up child care for working families because the program isn't being funded.

The Bloomington Pantagraph story featured the director of Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, a new RBC member.

The Responsible Budget Coalition also called on Rauner to "choose revenue" in his budget proposal.

Roy Harley, director of coalition member Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, said the current impasse has resulted in home visits and other services around the state scaling back or shutting down.

"Without a budget, we are failing the most vulnerable and needy among us," Harley said, calling the situation "unconscionable and irresponsible."

Decatur NBC 17 featured Frida Arellano, a first generation college student who attends Eastern illinois University, a MAP grant recipient, and a member of RBC member Young Invincibles. 


RBC senior communications manager Neal Waltmire was quoted in the Chicago Tribune noting that service cuts that increase the risk of child abuse and cause people to quit their jobs and drop out of college are harmful to families, communities, and the economy.  

Social service advocates who lined up by the dozens in the Capitol on the eve of the budget speech said that only underlined the need for Rauner to agree to a tax increase sooner rather than later.

"People are learning more and more about the pain that's being caused, and I don't think anybody believes child abuse or causing anyone to quit their jobs or drop out of college helps our economy or helps our families and communities," said Neal Waltmire, spokesman for the Responsible Budget Coalition, a group of social service providers and education and labor groups pushing for a tax increase.