Rush Calls on Gov. Rauner and General Assembly to “Lay Down Their Egos,” Put Illinois Citizens First and Stop Acting Like “King Kong Vs. Godzilla”
CHICAGO — U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) reiterated his call for an immediate end to the Illinois budget stalemate that crippled the state’s social service and non-profit agencies and has placed tens of thousands of Illinois residents at risk. Standing with workers from Ashely Quality Care at 610 W. Root Street and flanked by a coalition of clergy and community residents, including Church of God in Christ Bishop O.C. Booker, the representative likened the Springfield crisis to the epic film “Godzilla vs. King Kong.” The state is $11 billion in arrears for all bills.
The state appropriation ran out December 31, 2016 so lawmakers have asked non-profits to keep providing service with the promise that eventually Illinois’ spending authority will be restored so agencies can get paid. Even with restoration, agencies like Ashley Quality Care, which has been without state payment since June 2015, will still have a fiscal gap needed to be addressed by the state.
“On behalf of the people of the 1st Congressional District of Illinois, I am joining in this moral stand against the fiscal suffocation of our state’s social service agencies,” Rush said. “No matter how you want to look at it, the Governor and the Speaker of the House have declared war on social agencies. I am here to support these vital organizations in their call for an end to the budget brutality that hurt our communities. I join in the demand that Governor Bruce Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly lay down their egos and put the people of Illinois first.
“This state budget brutality is wreaking havoc on our communities and particularly poor people,” he said. “It has put the most vulnerable people at risk, of which some 1.9 million live in poverty. Black children in Illinois, for example, are nearly four times more likely to live below the poverty line than white children. This is a war against poor people, poor families and poor children, nothing more and nothing less.”
Before the budget impasse began Ashley’s Quality Care serviced over 1,000 clients and more than 950 employees. Due to the impasse the company is down to less than half of those numbers. Under a contract with the Illinois Department of Aging the company has not received any payments from the state since September of 2016. This is approximately $1 million sitting and pending until further notice. Without receiving these payments Ashley’s cannot meet payroll for home care aides and staff. As a result our home care aides and clients are suffering by coming to work every day for a company that is not able to pay them their due wages.
“Ashley’s Quality Care Homecare Agency and many others in the Chicago and across the state are suffering from the current budget impasse,” said Frankie J. Redditt, president and CEO of Ashley. “We’re losing our workforce, we are in danger of losing our company and more importantly this is hurting the very seniors who rely on our care everyday who deserve to be treated better than they have been. How many seniors will have to lose their home care services and be sent back to hospitals, how many more workers will lose their jobs and be sent to the unemployment line? Enough is enough. We need relief now.”
Added Bishop O.C. Booker, president of the first jurisdiction of the Church of God In Christ, representing more than 2,000 churches in Chicago and suburban Illinois, “How many disabled seniors will have to go without services? How many employees will become unemployed? How many people will experience foreclosures or served eviction notices? …And, how many students will lose their health care benefits because their parents have no income? No budget, no money, no pay. We need help. Now is the time to respond.”
Congressman Rush, in partnership with 7th Congressional District Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) vowed to fight with these agencies to bring the budget stalemate to an end.
“We know that a state budget is as much of a moral document as it is a fiscal blueprint and yet our citizens, Ashley’s clients, are not numbers on a spreadsheet,” Rush said. “This fiscal crisis is impacting real lives. Workers are losing their jobs due to no fault of their own leading to both a workforce and caseload crisis in Illinois. School districts are being forced to make cuts that harm students in the classroom; and, even further, the state is crippling child welfare agencies.
“While these two despots are engaged in war, I am reminded of a movie I used to see called Godzilla vs. King Kong. The one thing I remember about it was there were two giant monsters fighting for power and destroying the city of Tokyo as a result of it. They were wiping out homes and businesses and wreaking havoc on the people of the city. Madigan and Rauner are like King Kong and Godzilla and they are destroying Illinois,” the representative continued.
“We’ve seen day care centers close, mental health facilities close, rehab services close, anti-violence programs, close and community centers close. This may be the greatest destruction of social service agencies and providers in the state’s history. We don’t just have people falling through the cracks, we have an entire demographic of people falling into craters of instability—all because our elected officials at the state level are unable or unwilling to secure a state budget.
“Again, I am calling on Gov. Rauner and the General Assembly to end this civil war put the people of Illinois first. By passing a budget they may be able to halt the damage already done to children, families and communities.