More than 110 residents attended Lake County’s annual Legislative Breakfast at Zion’s Illinois State Beach Resort on Friday. Members of CCH’s statewide network helped plan the event, including statewide organizer Jim Picchetti.
State Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-Crystal Lake), State Sen. Terry Link (D-Lake Bluff), and State Rep. Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan) answered questions during an open mic session, as well as aides for State Sen. Dan Duffy (R-Libertyville), state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka (R), and U.S. Rep. Bob Dold (R-Northbrook).
Dr. James Menzer, homeless liaison for the Lake and McHenry counties’ Regional Office of Education, spoke about the need to restore $3 million in homeless program grants to schools.
“When students are identified as homeless, they are given access to supportive services that can really help them in the classroom. Fifty-two percent of students who are identified as homeless either met or exceeded Illinois’ education assessment goal in the last school year,” Dr. Menzer said.
A woman who introduced herself as a minimum wage worker spoke about the need to increase the state’s minimum wage.
“The gentleman who introduced me said that people earning minimum wage make $8.25 an hour. I actually make $4.95 as a waitress. Also, after taxes, minimum wage workers should make $16,500 a year. After counting tips, I made $8,500 last year, which is not even close to supporting myself and my three kids.”
CCH partners in the Raise Illinois campaign, a coalition of groups working with State Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood). She is chief sponsor of Senate Bill 1565, which proposes to raise the state’s minimum wage by $2.40 an hour over a 4-year period.
After the event, Rep. Mayfield agreed to coordinate with CCH’s statewide network partners to visit homeless facilities in Lake County with fellow members of the House Human Services Appropriations Committee. Last spring, Rep. Mayfield was a strong advocate for the restoration of state funding for homeless programs in the current state budget.
Members of CCH’s statewide network helped plan the event, including Waukegan Township Supervisor Patricia Jones, Staben House Program Director Lety Castellanos, Sonia Maries of Maristella, The Harbor Director Karen Kowal, and Sharon Bingham of Catholic Charities in Lake County.
– Jim Picchetti, Statewide Organizer