Tearful mom says she doesn’t want to hear lawmakers’ sympathy anymore. She needs them to choose revenue to prevent cuts to families with special needs and other vital services
Rockford, IL – Women gathered at The Center of Hope in Rockford today to unveil a new analysis from the Responsible Budget Coalition that shows the failure of state policymakers to choose revenue is having a disproportionate impact on women. This is due to the fact that women make far less than men for the very same work and caregiving responsibilities are far more likely to fall on their shoulders.
Merry Klemm gave a mom’s perspective of the budget impasse at the press conference. Merry is a caregiver for her 28-year old son, Eric, who has special needs. She constantly worries vocational and socialization services that her son and others utilize at The Center for Hope will be cut if lawmakers don’t soon address the state’s revenue shortfall. She worries Eric will lose his sense of community.
“As a mom, I’m so afraid for my son’s future and I am embittered when I hear legislators say they ‘feel for us’ or hear them quote numbers,” said a tearful Klemm. “Maybe they do feel bad, but they need to act. They need to pass a budget that chooses revenue so Eric and his friends at [The Center for] Hope get the services they need and so moms like me don’t have to worry constantly.”
Faye Marcus of the American Association of University Women noted that women who solely have a high school diploma can make 78 percent less than those with a four-year degree. She detailed how state policymakers had failed to provide any state funding to Illinois’ public colleges and universities (54% of students who attend are women) and MAP tuition grants (62% of which female students receive) this fiscal year.
“For Illinois to be pro-women and pro-business, our leaders in Springfield must pass a budget that chooses revenue to fund affordable higher education,” said Marcus.
Sue Wilson, Executive Director of First Step Day Care & First Step Learning, Inc. of Belvidere, said childcare continues to be out of reach for many families. This is despite the Governor’s decision in November to reverse many of the childcare cuts his administration instituted in July. An estimated 10,000 children who would have been eligible for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) under the pre-July guidelines remain ineligible.
“Just last week I had to look two families in the eye and tell them they didn’t qualify. There is no good reason these families should be turned away,” said Wilson.
Wilson also warned that families currently receiving childcare assistance could soon be under the knife again if the Governor and lawmakers do not choose to act soon to raise revenue.
Claire McIntyre, President of the League of Women Voters of Greater Rockford, detailed other harms to women outlined in the report, such as senior women being forced to skip meals, homeless women and children being turned away from shelters, and sexual assault victims being placed on waiting lists.
McIntrye concluded: “Women are being denied opportunity and independence, which is bad for Rockford and bad for Illinois. The right choice for women is the right choice for Illinois, to choose revenue.”
The groups said they would share the analysis with local lawmakers in hopes they will use the data to advocate for a responsible budget that chooses revenue over continued harmful cuts to services women rely on.
The Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC) is a large and diverse coalition of approximately 200 organizations concerned about state budget and tax issues. It includes organizations that serve children, families, veterans, seniors and people with disabilities; education groups concerned about early learning, K-12 and higher education; labor unions; faith-based and civic organizations; and many others.
The individual organizations that belong to the RBC represent a diverse range of interests but are united by these three common principles:
• Adequate revenue to support state priorities and make smart investments
• No more cuts to vital programs and services
• Fairness in raising revenue
Media Contact: Neal Waltmire, firstname.lastname@example.org, 815-353-7655