AURORA – Two Kane County Democratic lawmakers called for the governor to sign a spending plan for social service agencies hard-hit by the lack of a state budget.
State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Aurora, and state Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, attended a June 22 news conference where representatives of various social service agencies spoke of how the budget impasse was affecting their ability to provide services.
Both advocated for Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign Senate Bill 2038, legislation that would provide some funding for these and other social service agencies.
"What we need is governing by the governor,” Kifowit said. “And we need him to stop making up excuses for why he’s not signing this bill that helps so many people in our community. The bottom line is, we are in a society that should be of compassionate people and not a society of greed where money trumps all."
Holmes said taking all human compassion out of the equation: “The state should run like a business – but a business with a heart. We do have obligations. We do need to take care of people who need to be taken care of."
Holmes said when the state does not cover services for people with mental illness, homeless shelters are overwhelmed. When the state does not cover services for battered women’s shelters, women are at risk for injury or death if they don’t have a safe place to go once they leave their abuser.
"This political game of holding people hostage has gone on long enough,” Holmes said. “These are people’s lives. This is not a game."
The news conference was hosted by the League of Women Voters of Central Kane County and the League of Women Voters Elgin Area at the headquarters of the Association for Individual Development in Aurora.
The governor’s press secretary Catherine Kelly wrote in an email response that, as it is drafted now, “SB 2038 will exacerbate our current budget crisis because it doesn’t include funding for critical government services to our prisons, mental health facilities, child care, summer feed programs, among many other things.”
“All of these services are addressed in the GOP Leaders’ stopgap proposal [House Bill 6585 and Senate Bill 3435]. If Sen. Holmes and Rep. Kifowit truly wanted to take care of people, they would be pushing their Democratic leaders to be in Springfield to vote on this bill that would provide relief in these areas,” the response stated.
Both Holmes and Kifowit refuted the response.
“The purpose of SB 2038 is to fund the critical needs of our social service network, which would provide the needed emergency funding from last fiscal year directly to the organizations,” Kifowit wrote in an email response.
Rauner’s administration would shortchange social service agencies by siphoning off their funding and using it for governmental functions, Kifowit wrote.
“The purpose of the Commitment to Human Services Fund is to support human service providers – not government operations, travel reimbursements and other spending, which should be utilizing general revenue funds," Kifowit wrote. "SB 2038 does not include these extra expenses and is a true bill that provides emergency funding for our human services.”
Kifowit and Holmes both wrote that the GOP stopgap proposal does not fund needed services.
Kifowit wrote that the stopgap proposal eliminates services for autism, psychological services, homeless prevention services for families and youth, programs for at-risk youth, respite care and services for elderly seniors.
“I would suggest the gov spend time working on a responsible, full-year budget and sign SB 2038,” Kifowit wrote. “Actions speak louder than his empty words.
Holmes wrote that she voted on necessary measures for the state’s needs, and they are sitting on Rauner’s desk.
“The governor needs to understand how government works,” Holmes’ email stated. “There are two chambers. It takes 60 votes in the House and 30 in the Senate to pass a bill. Budget bills are typically negotiated in order to achieve those numbers.”
Holmes wrote that Rauner should “be an active part of the negotiations” to achieve passage of a bill.
“He has wasted several months attaching agenda items that result in little or no cost savings to the budget. In other words, he was tying non-budget items to the budget,” Holmes’ email stated.
“He was also touring the state and holding press conferences bashing rank and file Democrats, as well as the Speaker [Mike Madigan] and President [John Cullerton], while we had working groups trying to negotiate a budget," Holmes’ email stated. "That has proven very unproductive and resulted in an unprecedented Illinois budget impasse.”
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