Gov. Bruce Rauner’s immediate reductions to child care for working parents, home-based services for the elderly and disabled and home energy assistance show stunning disregard for working families and the less fortunate.
The governor’s recommended funding cuts in his proposed FY16 budget further demonstrate this lack of concern. Particularly callous is his proposal to terminate all services for wards of the state when they reach age 19, greatly increasing the risk that former wards will become homeless. Meanwhile, the governor’s budget also proposes cutting back services to homeless youth by more than 50 percent.
This double blow would eliminate the basic safety net for older youth who fled homes of abuse, dysfunction and rejection. Without essential services and protection, these young people face abuse and exploitation in their struggle to survive.
The governor’s disregard for those who are young and vulnerable is alarming. It breeds a lack of confidence in a political leader who has claimed compassion would be a priority of his administration.
Fiscal policy experts agree that we need to raise adequate revenue to support state priorities, make smart investments and avoid making further cuts to critical human services. The spending plan advanced by the General Assembly also includes funding reductions, yet rejects drastic cuts to vital services, pointing to new revenue as the solution.
A state that does not protect the less fortunate and give working families an opportunity to get ahead is a place without hope. Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is in the business of hope — hope for a better future for youth, families and communities. We invite the governor to join us in this vision for Illinois.
— Ed Shurna, executive director, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless